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The diary of our struggle to live a green and fair life.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

NEWS: Save Fordhall Farm!

I may be preaching to the converted here as I am well aware of what a community spirited, organic loving bunch you are! However, just on the off chance that you don't already know, here it is: a family farm in Shropshire (it has been farmed by the same family since the 1700s) is facing crunch time and they desperately need your help.

Charlotte (23) and Ben (21) Hollins inherited the tenancy to Fordhall Farm in 2004 from their father, the late Arthur Hollins, a pioneer in organic farming methods and author of 'The Farmer, the Plough and the Devil' (secondhand copies available from Abe Books). Their plan is not just to run the farm along organic lines but also to build an education resource room to pass on their discoveries and enthusiasm to the next generation, a “bunkhouse” for schoolchildren and volunteers, an organic café, a farm shop and even, potentially, to offer the farm as a venue for occasional wedding receptions*.

But all their plans could be in vain as the landowner wishes to sell the farm (or rather the land) to developers.

Using all their powers of persuasion, the Hollins have seen off an eviction order and now have the opportunity to buy the farm and the land to prevent Fordhall Farm ever coming under threat again. To do this, however, they must raise the princely sum of £800,000.

By 1 July this year!

So far they have £65,000. So they need your help, and your friends' help, and your friends' friends' help!

The best way to do this is to buy lifelong “co-operative” shares in the farm through the Fordhall Community Land Initiative. These shares cannot be traded and no profits can be made from them. As Ben says, “The idea is that a trust will hold the land for the community, so it can never be developed.”

The shares cost just £50 each (each share buys 32 square metres of land and entitles the holder to a vote at the annual general meeting).

To buy shares, contact Fordhall Community Land Initiative on 01630 638 696 or via the Fordhall Farm website @

If you want to help out and have fun at the same time, why not attend the Fordhall Farm Charity Ball on Saturday 13 May - tickets are £50 and they are looking for Auction Prizes. It is set to be a cracking night with all local or organic food and a ceilidh.

The Fordhall Farm Family Fun Day is on Sunday 11 June. There will be something for everyone with stalls, games, sheep shearing, football, gymkhana, hog roast, storytelling, vintage tractors and much much more.

For further details on either event or if you would like to donate a prize or bring a stall/game to the Fun Day please contact Sophie on 01630 638 696 or at

The 'Fight for Fordhall Farm' featured in The Telegraph last Saturday (16th April) and a copy should be available through the Fordhall Farm website very shortly. An earlier Telegraph article of 22.08.05 entitled 'Shares issue aims to save the good life' can be viewed here.


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*In fact, the first time I contacted the Hollins, having been alerted to their plight by the Soil Association publication, 'Living Earth', was to ask them if they had considered this avenue of revenue to fund the farm – a possible venue for Ethical Weddings! Watch this space...


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