Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Localism Bill granted Royal Assent

The Localism Bill has been granted Royal Assent, which is the final step required for a
parliamentary bill to become law.

Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of Plunkett Foundation, responds: "Too often there are significant barriers facing rural communities wanting to save their local shop and pub. The Community Right to Bid to Buy aims to help communities to address some of these barriers. We encourage rural communities to explore using the new Community Right powers to see how it can help safeguard their local shop and pub."

More information about the Localism Bill can be found at:

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Working Weekend!

On 12th and 13th November we held our last Volunteer Working Weekend for 2011.

Around 9am on Saturday morning the first of our twenty volunteers began to arrive for a busy and fun weekend ahead of them. After a welcome hot drink, piece of cake and lots of mingling getting to know one another, we began with the induction for the first day.

We had a long list of jobs that needed to be started and if possible finished around the farm. All jobs were maintenance based held ouside. Amazingly for November we were lucky enough to have two beautiful, mild, sunny days.

Once eveyone was given their jobs we all got to work. I was the leader of trying to fix our board walk that goes across are marsh meadow, where a few of the boards had been broken by cows. Without the boards people would find themselves upto their knees in lovely bog water. I was joined by two young lads and together we set to work on trying to lift the boards out of the bog. It soon became clear that neither of the guys had come properly prepared so we made our way back to the portcabins to find some more appropriate clothing.

Once happy we carried on with our job at hand. Everyone had got messy from their different jobs but after much falling over in the deep muddy water I'd have to say I think we were the messiest when we returned for lunch.

Over the weekend we all achieved so much, everyone worked so hard and really got stuck in to doing their jobs. We are all so grateful to all the people who gave up their time to come and help out on the farm. Altogther we accomplished:

1) Repairing numerous benches
2) Re-gravelling the drive way and around the tearoom
3) Creating a soak away outside for the new volunteer kitchen
4) Dismantling the old compost loo
5) Making planters for the new tearoom herb garden
6) Repairing the board walk
7) Making slow signs for the drive
8) Building a Bug and Breakfast  - a huge bug mansion for little insects and animals to hibernate in over the winter months.

A HUGE Thank You to everyone who came and helped, you all made it a great and brilliantly fun weekend. You are all so FANTASTIC!!!

Beth Kennett

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Love Your Garden Competition

On 26th July 2011 we began our Love your Garden competition. Fordhall Farm was joined by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust to begin six weekly events over the summer holidays trying to inspire the community to do more in their back gardens for wildlife. All events were free and were designed to give friendly tips and advice on how to invite all sorts of species into their gardens.

At the start of the year Fordhall Farm received a grant from the Big Lottery Fund to try and bring the community and wildlife together. Myself, Beth Kennett (Wildlife Officer at Fordhall Farm) and Sara Bellis (Wildlife Officer from the Shropshire Wildlife Trust), got together to see if and how we could work together and go about bringing this to life.

Other than little event days such as planting seeds ready for bees and butterflies, we wanted to come up with something that would bring together are own aims and that of the grant. Thinking of something that would bring a climax to the events and an overall aim and accomplishment to finish on was quite tricky, however, we finally came up with the competition that families and people of all ages could get involved in.

We had great fun in talking about things we could do and topics of events. All were free or low cost ideas, that invariably brought wildlife a safe haven and also could provide food for humans, such as lettuce.

The six events that were arranged consisted of a Wildlife Bioblitz, Marvelous Mammals, Amazing Amphibians and Reptiles, Brilliant Birds, Mega Minibeasts and a Wacky Wildlife Party. Overall we had nearly 300 people that came to the events, a quarter of those had never been to the farm before.

The winner of the competition was the person/family who made the most improvement and benefit for wildlife in the six week period within the Market Drayton area. There were various entries and on the 18th October Sara and I decided the winner. Ryan Kennedy from Shropshire radio came over to Fordhall ready to go to the winners home.

The winner being the Scott family. Joena, Jason, Jacob and Jasmine. After leaving the first event on the 26th they went straight home and began making plans for their wildlife garden pond. They made such brilliant habitats to benefit wildlife and to top it off they didn't spend a penny. Follow the link below if you'd like to visit thier website and see how they went about making the changes to their garden.

The competition and running the events showed that people were very interested in learning more about wildlife and tips/advice they could pick up.

Even though the grant runs out at the end of this year, Sara Bellis and I are looking into continuing a 'Family Wildlife Group' for 2012. Keep a look out for that!!

Anyway, that's enough from me. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you are interested in the Wildlife Group or any event.

Beth Kennett

Monday, November 07, 2011

We have busy amidst the blog silence at Fordhall - honest!

Hi all,

Apologies for the prolonged period of silence between blogs - we will now be resuming blogging with regularity!
So, for a catch up - the last few months on the farm have been extremely busy as a result of the renovation of the Old Dairy. We have had successful basket weaving courses, a very busy tearoom and farm shop, we have organised birthday parties, lots of people have been to visit the farm trail, the Big Draw was very popular and over 200 children plus their families attended our Fun and Frights Halloween event a couple of weeks ago. Then this weekend we have another infamous Get Mucky volunteer weekend, which is already fully booked. Phew, it makes me tired just remembering it all!

The basket is nearlly done - only 3 more hours to go..

The Big Draw saw many children make many scary creatures!
Our art fair gave local artists the opportunity to show off their talent.

Over 200 children attended our Halloween event - it was great fun!

In addition to all of the activity at the farm we have been busy developing our tearoom menu. Our new team of excellent tea room staff have been discussing lots of creative ideas to make the most of the wonderful asset we have and our new chef Barney, who has come all the way from London, has been working hard to get delicious and traditional hearty fayre onto the menu.

To help kick off the new menu we held two Autumn banquets especially for our supporters. Held in our flexible rooms upstairs, 30 people sat in a room decorated by all the wonderful things that surround us in the Autumn, and they were served a delicious 5 course menu. The atmosphere was convivial and the food pulled the evening together - it was a resounding success (and the staff learnt a lot along the way too!).

Getting ready for our first banquet and our rooms come to life

Following on from this we are excited to soon be opening an evening restaurant on a Friday and Saturday evening. The menu will be filled, of course, with the best local and organic produce we can find; providing you with a completely guilt free meal. Plus with all profits being reinvested back into the educational work of the Fordhall Community Land Initiative your meal will be achieving just more than a memorable evening experience.
Finding whatever we can on the farm to decorate our tables

We'll be in touch...