Tuesday, May 24, 2011

AGM, Barn Dance and Spring Fair Weekend!!

The Fordhall Community Land Initiative's 2011 AGM was held at Fordhall Farm for the very first time!  It was really well attended by shareholders from all over the country.  As it was held here, it gave people the chance to have a hot drink and a piece of cake in the new tearoom, which was opened last weekend.  The meeting was chaired by the Chairman of the Board, Chris Eldon Lee. 

The official AGM ran until 2pm, when it broke for a delicious 'bring and share' lunch and a local choir, the Mere Singers, came to entertain everyone. They sang some beautiful songs, including the famous "Pancake Day" from the play "Arthur's Plough". 

After lunch, guided tours took place around the farm and new buildings led by Charlotte, Ben, Beth & Bex and for those who didnt fancy the walk, Alec Nunn led a great Pyrography activity for adults and children alike.

In the evening, we celebrated with a Barn Dance and Hog Roast.  Lots of fun and laughter was had by everyone, the food was delicious (as always), local ale was sold at the bar and the band kept everyone up and dancing throughout the night.

The next day, Fordhall Farm was bustling...or should that be blustering with visitors attending the Spring Fair and Farmers' Market.  Some 20 Stall Holders battled against the gale force winds to sell their local wares.  There were opportunities to try out our new family orienteering course and kids could have a go at hunting out all the Fordhall Staff in Beth's Wildlife Treasure Hunt.  Ben's sheep were being sheared ready for the summer and the Tea Room was still being checked out by one and all taking shelter from the gusts of wind.

 Despite being windswept and a little bit chilly, a good day was had by all!! A big thank you to all who helped to make it a really successful weekend!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

clay oven update

Not only has the rennovation work of the dairy been completed, so too has work on the clay oven.
We held a fabulous hazel hurdling course back in April and Alan Houseman, who taught the course, also delivered the hurdles he had made, using hazel coppiced near LLanymynech, close to the border with Wales.
The hurdles now surround our clay oven to protect it from the elements and the finishing touch has been a lime wash on the base of the oven, which you can see being painted on by Sharon and Georgina, two volunteers who regularly help in the community garden.
I have also attached a picture of the hurdling course participants; watching and listening intently to Alan. The weekend was a great success with all the participants learning a lot about the tricky art of making hurdles. We were able to host the course with help from the Aggragate Levy Fund, managed by Shropshire Council and as it was oversubscribed we would certainly run it again next year.
Comments from the participants were all very positive, no one wanted the weekend to finish and everyone went home with the a hurdle they had made over the two days of the course. Bex

Saturday, May 14, 2011

NEW Tea Room and Farm Shop NOW OPEN!

Yes that's right - after years of planning and months of construction our new tea room and farm shop opened at Fordhall Farm this weekend.

We went for a soft opening, so no major publicity, but lots of signs at the end of the drive. We thought that we needed a little time to find our feet before we invite the masses... This would allow some time for staff training, remember everything we've forgotten, plan the menu etc. But a lack of publicity did not seem to matter, at lunch time every table in the tearoom was full!

The farm shop was bustling and everyone jumped in to help. The rustic tearoom and the clean lines of the oak canopy to the farm shop, make Fordhall a lovely space to sit and relax, and our visitors seemed to agree. With homemade soup, local cakes, sandwiches and organic teas, the tearoom vision we had is now a reality.

To be honest, it still feels like a blur. Arriving at Fordhall, with the new signs at the entrance, the gravel on the drive, and then the beautiful old dairy building, restored and revived. It is a sharp contrast to the run down buildings that greeted us only 9 months ago.

There are so many people to thank for this project, too many to list here. But they all know who they are. From the thousands of people who donated to our appeal last year which matched the generous funding from Advantage West Midlands, to our board members, our staff, and the many volunteers who tirelesly sanded tables and chairs, moved equipment and helped clean the space in preperation for today. Not to mention all the professionals who worked on the build including Shingler Construction, Seven Architecture and WCP Associates. And of course to Oliver Allan for his wonderful photos. Thank you all.

With the first day behind us, our focus now turns towards our AGM and Farmers' Market next week. Our upstairs classroom and office space is still in construction, but it won't be long until we can fully move in.

We hope to see you soon.


P.S. Lots more photos can be found on Oliver Allan's Flikr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/42865673@N07/

Monday, May 09, 2011

The BigWalk visit Fordhall!

Helen Hedges a shareholder in Fordhall Farm, dropped by on Friday to lend a hand. Currently Helen is the logistical support behind The Big Walk http://thebigwalk.co.uk/ and took the time to fit us in inbetween dropping off and picking up her walking team. Helen's husband Geoff Hedges and friends Diana & Drew Kirby from Tockenham, Wiltshire are walking the length of the country more than 1,100 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats! The team of four will be traveling the entire journey together, with Helen organising all the background details needed to keep the walk on schedule and keep everyone healthy and happy.

Helen walked the farm trail during her visit to Fordhall Farm and then helped the Fordhall Community Land Initiative (FCLI) in our office for the afternoon; we were then able to stamp Helen's Land's End to John O'Groats logsheet before she sped off to pick up the rest of the team at Friday's finish line! Geoff, Diana, and Drew started their 12 week mission on the 1st April 2011, that works out at about 15 miles of walking per day with 6 days walking and 1day rest.

A very inspiring bunch of people!!! Check out their blog at http://thebigwalk.co.uk/ pledges to the charities that they are supporting can be made through this webpage too! 
Thankyou very much for your help Helen, we appreciate that you took the time to visit us on your epic journey.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Fordhall's New Farm Shop is nearlly finished!

The transformation at Fordhall over recent months has been staggering. Can you believe that in 2 weeks time we will have a fully operational farm shop, tearoom and classroom space??

Our new septic tank!
Lovely Hazels and Daisy's have been planted outside, by volunteer Keith Atkey. Bex has planted a herb garden, our air source heat pump is now fully operational (after a few issues with the installation), lights are in, toilets are in and we even have a new septic tank! What more could you need?

This morning Ben and Azhar (from UK Equipment Direct) installed his new fridge. It took 7 men a good two hours to get it into place, but they got there in the end, and it now looks the perfect centre piece for the new farm shop.

The kitchen in the tearoom has all now arrive from Catering Centre UK and Shingler Construction are busy with the installation. Our beautiful Clearview Stove (made in Shropshire) has also arrived and been installed. Meanwhile, wonderful volunteer Viv has been busy gathering tables and chairs ready to fill the space.

The number of people involved with this build continues to grow and we are grateful to each and every one of you. We plan to open the week of the 16th May - a little behind schedule but it will be worth it..

This means that the perfect opportunity to come and visit is our Farmers' Market on Sunday 22nd May.

See you there..


Monday, May 02, 2011

The Magic of Fordhall Farm, by Sophie

Charlotte watering the newly planted
green roof
in front of the newly installed
PV cells thanks to Salop Energy.

It’s all go here at Fordhall where the new walls are being painted, calves are being born and volunteers are beavering away fixing fences and building carparks. Things seem to be in constant fast-paced change, but at the core, things are very much still the same since I left in 2008. Charlotte is still running around doing 700 things at once, Ben is still thriving as a farmer, and there are still so so many others pottering around lending helping hands. But there are some significant differences of course.

The new buildings: it is fantastic to see the vision from the early days in the campaign coming into fruition. It is almost like a little dream, but the noise of the diggers and chickens confirm that it is actually happening, for real, right now. It is great!

Bex (Community garden
coordinator) on
her way to water the garden
There is an immense level of productivity at the moment, and the momentum is peaking as the deadline approaches. Whether it is making decisions on crockery, to ordering toilet signs and planning computer networks. The level of detail that is needed from Charlotte, Ben and all those that are helping out is really impressive. They are champions are dealing with stress with a smile.

The photos show Bex off on her mission to water the new hedgerow at the driveway entrance. This involved a complicated process of connecting 3 hosepipes with much hilarity. The next photo is of Andy supervising Hugo (my husband!) as they put Andy’s car park plan into practice. And it looks pretty impressive.
 Charlotte tells me that there is only one week to go until they open. The pressure is on...
Andy (left - our wonderful volunteer landscape architect) and
Hugo (right - wonderful volunteer) constructing the new car park.

I sincerely hope that you are able to visit the farm this year, either during an event or to enjoy a walk around the extended and idyllic farm walks. To see your dream come true is such a special moment. And as supporters, you should take a moment to enjoy it for yourselves. I know I will certainly be visiting again in the near future.

Sophie (ex-employee, volunteer and dog’ s body. Or “Sophie from the book” as Charlotte calls me).

Ben, Charles and Chris moving hanging rails
for Ben's new burchery fridges.

Almost there - now just the finishing touches

Charles monitors the laying of our oak flooring in the upstairs office.
You can see the recycled newspaper insulation sitting below.