When Ben and I first accepted the 18 month tenancy two years ago, we debated whether it was worth it. What if we were to get further into debt? Were we wasting our time and energy and fighting a loosing battle? What can you really achieve in 18 months?
Well, with all your support and encouragement we have achieved what once felt like the impossible. Last week Ben and I signed a 100 year lease for Fordhall Farm – yes all the hard work was definately worth it. Signing this agreement meant a lot to us both. It was the pinnacle of the campaign, the moment when both of us realised what has been achieved.
You have shown us that opportunities are what you make them. You have shown us that you should never not try, as you do not know what can be achieved until you do so. You have taught us that energy, enthusiasm and determination can achieve just as much, if not more, than money.
What has been built at Fordhall has been created from nothing. With very few livestock and no capital, the support and free time offered from people has created something amazing. We are sure that our late father, Arthur Hollins, would be amazed and heartened by the support Fordhall has received; we can not thank you enough.
Yet the hard work starts now. There is renovation of farm buildings, the creation of tearooms and a bunkhouse, as well as the setting up of a nature trail. All that can’t happen without endless planning applications, grant requests and form filling, but we are looking forward to it and we are looking forward to working through it with you.
As far as blueprints go, the set-up at Fordhall could assist other farmers in their fights to save land from the developers. More importantly, it could also result in a change of the law which means land agents will have to offer land for community purchase first before it goes on the open market; similar to the land reform of Scotland.
We may be the first to have gone through this process but we don’t want to be the last. If we lose our farming heritage there won’t be much left to save.