Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The Minister for DEFRA visits our organic farm

Minister for DEFRA Owen Paterson and Fordhall Board Members

Shropshire’s MP, Owen Paterson, in his new role as the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, visited Fordhall Farm last Friday.

As our local MP and with his new role, we had to invite him to Fordhall. We wanted him to see what has been achieved after so many lovely people across the country decided they wanted to support British and organic farming. We wanted to show him the benefits of community owned farms and perhaps provide him with some new and innovative ways forward for the industry.
 
His visit had been in the diary for some months, and when the horse meat scandal hit the headlines in February, the timing just got better.
 
 
We were really pleased Mr Paterson found time to visit Fordhall, having suddenly found himself very busy recently.... We were keen to show him how the concept community ownership has allowed Ben to continue farming on land he would not otherwise have afforded, whilst simultaneously providing a valuable resource for the local and wider community. We also took the opportunity to demonstrate the local food chains at Fordhall and the positive influence the horse meat scandal has had on business.

At the recent NFU conference the Owen Paterson said “To be the lead innovators and increase our competitiveness globally, we need highly skilled, entrepreneurial and ambitious people working in our farming and food sectors. I welcome the industry’s lead in promoting itself to young people and supporting new entrants, with a number of initiatives already underway.”

The visit on Friday gave Owen Paterson the opportunity to see the community farm in action. Whilst here he visited a group from Market Drayton Infant School who had walked from the town to visit us. They took great delight  in telling Mr Paterson what they had learnt about the farm, including where sausages come from and how to do a worm dance!

We then took a short tour of the farm, explaining our Foggage farming system, which allows the livestock to remain on the pasture year round, before returning to our sustainably renovated Old Dairy for a tour of our classrooms and a demonstration of the natural materials we have used, the butchery and then the tearoom for a Fordhall ploughman's lunch.

Demonstrating the sustainable building techniques we have used at Fordhall
 
Owen Paterson said “Ben and Charlotte Hollins have demonstrated a clear determination to remain in farming. I salute their enterprise and commitment “

There is no horse meat in the
Fordhall butchery!
Ben was pleased that the Minister was also interested in the supply chain on the farm, which goes from here to an abattoir in Stoke and then everything is back to the farm to be hung and butchered, and then sold direct to the public. Not only do we sell everything direct, without horsemeat in sight, but we also employ over 20 people on the farm, something that not the average 140acre would find possible and something which did seem to tick an important box with the Minister.

After visiting the farm Owen Paterson said “the transformation at Fordhall over the last 7 years is extremely impressive. The environmentally friendly buildings provide a real centre piece for the farm.”


1 comment:

Tracy Cook said...

Charlotte and Ben you should give yourselves a pat on the back followed by a big cheer for all the helpers paid and unpaid.
Fordhall Farm is THE place to visit