Finger on the Pulse – by Sophie

As the mammoth figure of £800,000 looms on the horizon, we at Fordhall continue to take things within our stride and confidently jump from challenge to challenge – always focusing on that ‘final’ goal. But what people don’t realise, is that purchasing the land is not the end of it. We would like to be in a position to begin work as soon as the Iniaitive owns the land, and for the links that we are formulating now with other organisations to be so strong that the development (in the loosest sense of the word) of the Iniaitive happens organically, per say.

We have been given this amazing opportuntiy of first refusal on land providing that we have raised the amount by 1st of July. This is pretty much entirely down to the overwhelming support we have had from everyone, near and far. People have been so encouraging and as equally as enthusiastic as ourselves – it is this pounding energy which has kept our wheels turning! However, crunch time is nearing and it takes different skills to turn compassion into cash – these are skills which we need to learn and practice. A bit of inside knowledge – be prepared for the big appeal to begin end of April – take this opportunity to pre-empt us and tell at least 2 others about this amazing and groundbreaking project. It is the chance to take action on important issues and to make an example for others to follow.

Finance so far
We have raised £30,000 through the sale of £50 shares alone. We have received a £35,000 grant from Leader Plus to fund a Project Manager position (myself) and to contribute towards administration costs, and we are also in the process of gathering funding for the business plan through DEFRA. On top of this, Shropshire Wildlife Trust are following up grants, with a current application going through Tubney Trust. We are also combing through piles of grants and working on the most applicable.

We have received smaller pots of funding such as via Sustainable Aggregates Levy – £3,000 to plant trees and establish a link with BTCV.

Fordhall is one of the oldest organic farms in the country, and it has the potential to serve as an invaluable asset for our future and for that of future generations. Representing issues such as organics, farming heritage, wildlife and biodiversity, sustainability, education, culture, involvement, and health, the project strikes many cords. And at the heart of all this are young people with a determination and passion.

However, this project will only succeed if we can gather the finance to purchase the farm and this is still an important message to spread.

A huge amount of awareness and public support has been gathered through 2005, but this now needs to be turned into cash or it will mean nothing.

What significant support have we already received?
Ø Over 275 shareholders reaching across the globe
Ø Endorsements and a visit agreed from Prunella Scales
Ø A £2000 donation from Sting
Ø Huge support and endorsements from Chris Baines (urban conservationist and BBC presenter)
Ø Support from the HRH Prince of Wales, Patrick Holden (Soil Association), Peter Kindersley (Sheepdrove organic farm), Jonathon Porritt, and Monty Don.

How can you help?
Ø We need you to tell as many people as possible about our campaign, even if you only get them to visit the website, it all increases awareness and interest.
Ø We need to write letters to the many wealthy citizens who may could be interested in supporting this campagin – do you know any? Can you forward their contact details or pass on a package for us? (we can put it together and send it to you)
Ø Do you know of a business that may want to sponsor the cause or offer a gift in return for the press coverage
Ø You may know a wealthy person interested in the cause who may like to offer an interest free loan
Ø Alternatively, you may know someone who is simply very well connected and who is a useful person to be aware of our campaign.

This all helps and is invaluable to our campaign so please do pass on names, contacts or ask us to send you some information that you can then pass on for us. But don’t forget there are only two of us in the office full time so the more you can do the better – it is an amazing thing being able to inspire others. Try it.

One of the most significant things that we have learnt over the past year is: It’s not What you know, its Who you know. Can you help?

Keep checking the events page on the website for the programme of activities at the farm.