Friday, July 27, 2012

William Panter: 8 Weeks at Fordhall [Part One]

The idea of this blog is primarily to get my thoughts and experiences across to the public, but also, I hope this blog encourages more people to get involved in volunteering here. I’d never been here before, and as I don’t come from a farming background (far from it), I was expecting the stereotypical, corn-in-mouth farm I’ve seen on the telly; but I was very wrong. It’s community owned here, which means the ideas of how the farm should be run and should be presented isn’t in the hands of just the minority. As a result of this, what it offers to the community is far more than just cows in a field- it gives the opportunity for voluntary work, it offers organic and local food via the tea room and the farm shop, and it also offers anyone, anywhere, shares to own a little piece of Shropshire land.

But you already know that.

I've already made myself at home
at my own desk!

I’ll give you a little about me. My name is William and I’m 19. I went to school in Market Drayton, did my AS’s in Market Drayton, did my A2’s in Stoke and a Customer Service Apprenticeship in Crewe. After a year of being bored to tears as a jobseeker, I decided to look for more education; and after a lot of looking around, I can finally look forward to starting my university course in September. I enjoy sport, I absolutely adore alternative, rock and metal music and I wouldn’t be anywhere without my girlfriend, family and friends motivating me to go on and do things.

I started at Fordhall on an 8 week placement roughly 2 weeks ago now, and I’ve already learnt a lot about the Community Land Initiative and also the Farm as a whole. My title is ‘Admin Assistant’, but already it feels a lot more than that. I’ve helped input data from paper to PC, and helped with smaller jobs such as dealing with both incoming and outgoing mail. But by far the most rewarding so far, was bringing out my creative side to come up with a fresh poster idea for the upcoming Beer & Music Festival on 1st September. It took a lot of tweaking here and there (just ask Becca!), but the finished article is being printed as I am typing these very words, and if you’re in the area, you’ll see it in different places. If you’re further away, don’t worry; it’s right here anyway. The festival is taking shape now, and for more information, just stay tuned to this page...I’m sure Becca will be blogging all about it soon. Remember to book your tickets!


Fordhall Frog
Another highlight of my time here so far has been helping Beth (Wildlife Officer) organise her upcoming Wildlife Children’s Activities. Her first one was yesterday, River Antics, and I haven’t yet seen her since but I’m assured it went really well. If you have little’uns, and you happen to need something to do on a Thursday at 10am, why not bring them to Fordhall Farm? It’s a different wildlife theme every week, and always bound to keep them entertained. At £2 a child, that’s a bargain!


Come learn about all sorts of wildlife!

So in summary, I have certainly found my time here enriching. It’s opened my eyes to how different Fordhall is, how hard it works for the community, but I’ve also noticed something else, something that’s quite astonishing - people's generosity and support to the farm with all the donations and the share purchases. This farm would not be where it is today without the help of you and I’m sure you’ve all been thanked a million times over, but I would also like to thank you for the experience I’ve had over the last 2 or so weeks.

I will blog again in the next two weeks to let you know of my progress; in the meantime, have a great summer and enjoy London 2012!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer is finally here and the fun is only just beginning...

Well, I can’t believe it is nearly August. Where has the year gone? We have done so much this year: apple grafting course, Easter activities, Spring Fair, AGM, Summer Fair, basket weaving courses, bread making courses, Dawn Chorus Walk, Supporters BBQ, tonnes of school visits, volunteer working weekends, birthday parties, evening functions…the list goes on and we have so much more to come!
Last year's onion crop

Every Thursday of the Summer Holidays we are running family wildlife activities, starting this Thursday with River Antics!  Come down to the farm and become a crayfish, damselfly or kingfisher and explore the River Tern that borders Fordhall Farm.  Keep an eye on Twitter (@fordhallfarm) and Facebook (Fordhall Community Land Initiative) for more details about each week’s activity. £2 per child, grown-ups go free! Please book in advance so that we can make sure we are ready for you!

Toby from Pre-Sleep Monologue
On September 1st, we have our annual Beer and Music Festival.  This family friendly festival is set in the beautiful North Shropshire countryside, with 12 hours of music and a large selection of local real ales, complemented with a Fordhall Farm BBQ.  The event starts at 11am, advance tickets are £10 (on the door £12), under 14’s go free. Camping is available too at £5 a pitch.  The band and beer line-up will be available on our website soon! Get in touch to book your tickets.

If that’s not enough for you, on Saturday 22nd September, we will be graced with the presence of John Kirkpatrick.  This fabulous folk musician will be performing “The Victorian Farmer’s Year in Song”.  The gig kicks off at 7.30pm and tickets are only £15 AND include a delicious buffet at half time. Tickets are limited, so hurry up and book yours quick!
John Kirkpatrick

So, that’s it for the next few months…Here's a quick sneak peek into the Autumn, we will have a volunteer working weekend 13th-14th October, The Big Draw event on Sunday 14th October, A digital photography and editing course on Saturday 20th October and our annual Halloween Fun and Frights Night on Sunday 28th October – get the dates in your diary now!

To book on any courses, activities or events please call 01630 638696 or email

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jubilee Celebrations at RAF Cosford

A few weeks ago, The Queen and The Duke made a visit to the Midlands. We were fortunate enough to be invited to take part in the jubilee celebrations at RAF Cosford on Thursday 12th July.  Ben took his 3 catering trailers which were a real hit with the crowds.  He was also lucky enough to be inside the VIP area and to be introduced to The Duke, Ben even managed to give him a copy of  the book “The Fight for Fordhall”.  Hope the Royal Family enjoy reading it!

In come the crowds...
Charlotte and I had an information stall inside the “Best of Shropshire” area; we ran an activity asking children and grown-ups to tell us what they would miss if there were no farms. We had so many lovely responses including: memories, my dads job, milk, sausages and the smell of cow poo!!

If there were no farms, I would miss...
Charlotte and I in the parade!

There were 30,000 people at Cosford that day including around 6000 school children!  Many of the children were taking part in the pageant parade.  Charlotte, Connie and I also had that chance to take part in the pageant parade and we even fumbled a curtsey to The Queen!  

Her Majesty and her entourage
The next exciting event that we are taking part in is the Shrewsbury Flower Show this August. As part of our exhibition we would like to display a series of photographs of our supporters who enjoy gardening. Whether you are an avid green fingered gardener, or (like me) you have grown one pot of parsley on your windowsill - we need you! We need a photograph of you and your plant with a caption about the picture e.g Taste, smell, colour? Why you are growing it? What you are growing? 
Here is Bex's picture...
"I love old fashioned sweet peas.
I am growing them for Fordhall to have outside and use in the tearoom." 
If you want to get involved email and your photo will be part of our fantastic display at the famous flower show!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Supporters BBQ a success and Moth Night tonight!

Last weekend we held our Annual Supporters BBQ. Over 100 people from across the country attended. Some returning visitors and for some it was their first Fordhall experience. The lovely bunting donated by shareholders 2 years ago covered the farmhouse garden, displays told the Fordhall story, Charlotte took groups on guided tours and Ben provided food from his new catering trailer.

After weeks and weeks of rain, Sunday was a day of warmth and sunshine - thankfully!

Shareholders and volunteers came from Surrey, the Wirral, West Midlands, London amongst many other locations across the country.

We would like to say an enormous thank you to everyone who attended, especially those who travelled to Shropshire especially. It is great for us to have the opportunity to thank you personally for all your support at Fordhall over the years.

Mega Moth Night
ALSO this is your last chance to come to our Mega Moth night, this evening from 8pm-12am! Come and help identify moths, learn about them and admire them. You can come and join in the fun anytime. Just park up and make your way to the picnic area - see you there!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Seedlings and Saplings Playgroup

Did you know that every Tuesday morning we run a parents and toddlers session between 9.30am and 11.30am? 
The upstairs space above the tearoom is laid out with toys, teddies, games and crayons for toddlers to enjoy.  We’ve had a lovely new stair gate made to go at the top of the stairs to make the space even safer for the little ones. Our toys cater to all ages from soft toys and play mats for babies, to toy kitchen sets and a farm house for the older tots.

Home-made play dough

On the last Tuesday of the month, we will have a qualified children’s play leader running some arts and crafts and messy play sessions during the playgroup. The next led session will be Tuesday July 31s

Our teddy needs a hug!
Older children who may be around in the summer holidays too are more than welcome to come and join in the fun.  If the sun is shining and you want a bit of outdoor play, our “pig-nic” area is a great space for kids to run around in.  We have a brand new see-saw and musical washing line, as well as giant sausage links, a wooden pig and a giant worm to scramble on!  The area is fenced off from the rest of the fields, so children can explore outdoors freely and safely.  
Playing the musical washing line

If your kids are a bit more adventurous and you want to explore the farm trails, our woodland area has some new stepping stones to play on, as well as a tightrope and a scramble rope.  A rope swing will be coming soon…watch this space!

Our playgroup mornings are FREE and there is no need to book, just turn up, grab a cuppa and enjoy the morning with other likeminded parents.  See you here soon!