Fordhall Farm’s methods are spreading!

Written by Tanya and Laura

This weekend we’ve had a fantastic time visiting Fordhall Farm to see all the work that’s going on the Farm and to hear about how it all started. We’re hoping to use some of the ideas in order to save a Grade II* listed building which is in need of urgent restoration to give it a new lease of life. Tanya is a Fordhall shareholder and, talking about Fordhall with friends, saw that the model of community involvement might also be used to help save Sockburn Hall. We decided this was a great excuse to come and visit the Farm – especially when we heard that we could stay in a yurt!

Our weekend at Fordhall has given us some really memorable moments… from the compost toilet and the nature trail to feeding lambs with Farmer Ben and envelope stuffing with Chatty Charlotte! It’s been amazing to see the enthusiasm and spirit that got the project started and that’s still going strong. We really appreciate the welcome we received and the brilliant advice from everyone here. Seeing the results of the initiative is a great boost and really makes us feel that the Sockburn project has a chance of success.

Sockburn is a beautiful house south of Darlington which has been in my family for fifty years but which has fallen into a state of disrepair to the extent that it can’t be lived in at the moment because of a lack of funds for renovation and ongoing maintenance. If we can’t find a way to make Sockburn financially sustainable then it is likely that it would have to be sold to developers risking a change to the character of the house and its history being lost. Our aim is to make the house safe again and make it a useable asset for anyone who wants to be involved.

Seeing Fordhall in action has crystallised the importance of putting people and the community at the centre of any project. Sockburn and Fordhall have many similarities – the younger generation’s desire to keep working on something that has been in the family for many years and the need to make what results financially and ecologically sustainable. All we’ve seen here really makes us feel that achieving what seems impossible is in fact a real possibility. Thank you, Fordhall!

If you are interested in Sockburn, or have any help or advice to offer, then email me: