Tuesday, January 14, 2014

End of Year Roundup

2013, that was the year that…

Arthur’s Farm Kitchen won three stars (the highest award) from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.  Not only can you enjoy a delicious meal here, but you can do so, safe in the knowledge that your conscience is clear as your surroundings and everything you are consuming has been sustainably sourced!
After some very long, cold winter months, we held our Spring Celebration and Lambing Day.  What a great success!  The event brought in over 1000 people who enjoyed one of the first weekends of sunshine of the year.

We had the award winning folk musician John Kirkpatrick fill our function room with clever lyrics and beautiful melodies.

During the summer, Brigit Strawbridge (of BBC’s “It’s not easy being green” fame) came to run a Bee Aware Workshop, participants took a walk around the farm learning about bees and all they do for our eco-system.

The old Nuffield tractor “Betty” that Arthur used to use at Fordhall was given a new lease of life by volunteers Rob and Jason.  She received a new, shiny red coat of paint, a big cheesy grin and working horn.  Kids love to while away the hours playing on her.

Our Summer Fair, just so happened to fall on one of THE hottest days of the year.  Luckily, we had two ice-cream stalls on hand to cool everyone off!

Charlotte was invited to the Isle of Man by the Isle of Man permaculture group where she spent her time visiting farms and meeting politicians – spreading the Fordhall name!

In July we held our annual Supporters BBQ.  We had about 130 guests, 21 of whom were visiting Fordhall for the first time ever.

Ben signed the Fordhall Farm Shop up with the Pasture Fed Livestock Association (PFLA).  This means that we will have QR codes on all our meat which can be scanned, taking you to the PFLA website and you can track the animals journey from pasture to plate.  The PFLA also held their AGM at Fordhall in the summer, where they had a farm tour from Ben and a delicious buffet from Arthur’s Farm Kitchen.

Whilst the Fordhall Catering team were at Carfest this year, not only did they serve Chris Evans (BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show) a Fordhall sausage bap, but also our baker Stacey won the “Professional Category” of the Cakes vs. Pies competition with our Ploughman’s Pie!

Charlotte was then invited to Turkey as part of the Green Learning Agreement Development Programme.  Farmers from all over Europe joined to together to understand how each country is dealing with the ageing population in agriculture.

Whilst Charlotte was away, Ben and Maz Hollins gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy.  Jamie Arthur Hollins was born on 3rd September, weighing in at a healthy 8lbs 4oz.  He is very cute!

The weekend after, we held our 4th Annual Beer and Music Festival.  This was a fantastic event to end the summer with.  Lots of families came for the day to enjoy the local music and local tipples and the children had a whale of a time playing in straw and watching Jester Jack.

We had lots of international visitors to Fordhall last year, from Brazilian volunteer Felipe to Chinese student Chao, visits from New Zealand shareholders and a PhD Student from Japan.
L-R Will Panter, Felip Bruceno (It's not just little kids who like to play on the old tractor!)

At the end of September, Charlotte Hollins married the love of her life Oli Allan in a beautiful outdoor ceremony on the ancient Motte and Bailey site! It was a gorgeous autumn day and Charlotte looked beautiful in her second-hand Justin Alexander, lace dress, carrying a bunch of flowers scoured from gardens in Market Drayton!

After her honeymoon, Charlotte held an Afternoon Cream Tea for those who had worked at Fordhall Farm pre-1980s.  We traded memories for a complimentary cream tea as part of the Heritage Lottery funded project.  Those memories, along with press articles, letters, recipes, photographs, journals and diaries are being conserved and catalogued at Shropshire Archives for posterity.

John Hughes (Shropshire Wildlife Trust) ran a Mushroom Mosey in October.  This fungi forage was inundated with participants and they all enjoyed a mushroom based lunch from Arthur's after their exploration around the farm.

As winter began, we held another music night with the trans-Atlantic folk duo Hickman and Cassidy.  James Hickman is a local Shropshire lad and American born, Icelandic dwelling, Dan Cassidy is the brother of the late Eva Cassidy.  James and Dan play a mixture of original and traditional folk tunes on the fiddle and guitar.

Arthur’s Farm Kitchen won their second award of the year from the Shropshire Star Tourism and Leisure Awards.  Odilia, Charlotte and I went to the awards ceremony in Ironbridge, where we found out we were the winners of the “Best Tearoom/CafĂ© Category”.  Thank you to everyone who voted for us!

Finally, to round the year off, we held our Christmas Carols on the Farm event.  We were thrilled to see so many people turn up and brave the weather for a sing-song around the fire, whilst children got to visit Father Christmas in the Fordhall Grotto.

We know that of our achievements and successes would not be possible without the support and encouragement of our subscribers, shareholders, visitors, customers and of course, our volunteers - essentially, each and every one of YOU!

Here is to another jam-packed, fun filled 12 months in 2014 – what will the year have in store….?

Come and join us for some fun, see you soon, 


Saturday, January 04, 2014

Eat Healthier for 2014 and support grass fed

“You are what you eat” applies just as well to cows as it does to us. Did you know there are significant differences in the quality of meat based on how the animal was fed?

Have you made a New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier in 2014? Our first one day conference ‘Traditional Nutrition Today’ will be held at Fordhall Farm on the outskirts of Market Drayton on Saturday January 18th.

For years nutritionists have warned of the dangers of saturated fats and, by implication, beef and dairy foods. But this is inaccurate says agricultural journalist and Archers editor Graham Harvey, and we agree. It takes no account of the nutritional difference between milk and beef produced the traditional way – by cattle grazing fresh pasture. New science shows clear health advantages to the traditional methods. So much so that grass-fed beef and dairy foods are becoming recognised as healthy – or “protective foods” as they were once known. Far from causing illness, they play a key role in defending the body against modern diseases says Graham. Even more so their production is now being seen as part of a land-management system that’s beneficial rather than harmful to the planet. Though methane from ruminant animals undoubtedly adds to atmospheric greenhouse gases, they play a far more important role in reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide through the carbon sequestered in the grass pasture that they graze.

Improving the soil was the very reason my father, Arthur Hollins, turned Fordhall organic and over to pasture following the Second World War. Our cattle and sheep remain completely grass fed today. They graze our pastures throughout the year enjoying a vast diversity of grasses, herbs and clovers. Not only does it keep our cattle healthy but grass-fed beef also contains a healthier balance of omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats than grain-fed beef. The ratio in pasture-fed animals is within the range known to reduce the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis and to reduce the risk of some cancers.

Our lovely tenant farmer Ben Hollins with his cows
If you are interested in the health benefits of grass fed meats, raw unpasteurised milk and other health myths and want to know more, then you will like our one day conference on January 18th at Fordhall Farm. Speakers include; Ben Pratt, anlternative Sports nutritionist; Graham Harvey, Agricultural editor of the Archers and writer; Dave Deaville, a local raw cheese maker; The Real Food Company from Alsager; and Carol Ainley, a nutritionist. Plus there will be a full guided tour of Fordhall by farmer, Ben Hollins.

Tickets are £40 and include a fantastic Fordhall lunch. To book your place please call 01630 638696 or email an enquiry to project@fordhallfarm.com. Or come and walk one of our free farm trails and see our livestock for yourself.

Happy and Healthy New Year

Charlotte x
For more information see the Facebook page for the event here Traditonal Nutrition Today