What does the future of Fordhall look like?
Following on from our member survey at the start of 2023, our Board have been busy reviewing Fordhall’s long-term strategy. We are keen to ensure that the work we do now contributes positively to the legacy we leave behind for the next community and tenants that are lucky enough to nurture the land here.
The topics are wide-ranging, the potential opportunities are huge, but what has shone through from our surveys with you, is what matters most is the land, the soil, and the livelihoods which are derived and nurtured by it in return. All in all, ensuring Dad’s legacy lives on.
Most recently, we held our annual staff and Board planning day. An opportunity for our team to spend time reviewing the successes, challenges and most importantly the learning of the last 12 months. Together we plan how this learning should inform the next 12 months of activity at Fordhall.
Following a morning of reflective planning, we all trooped across the fields to see the fantastic work of our volunteers, who have spent the summer building a ‘floating path’. This being a path with a sheep’s wool base and stone capping built to ‘float’ over the natural water springs that filter through the soil below.
The walk helped to ‘earth’ us all and reconnect us to Fordhall and what it is all about. We returned to the Straw Lodge where we began to think much wider. Why is Fordhall important now? What is the magic of Fordhall today?
There were many ideas, thoughts and bits of wisdom shared. Passions for growing, addressing the climate crisis, celebrating seasonal produce and sharing connections to food, to meals and to nutrition were high on the agenda. But there was also a discussion which struck me more personally, and that was around the reason Fordhall is still successful today. It came down to the art of collaboration. Something that was also at the heart of the Anthropy Conference I recently participated in at the Eden Project.
We realised that the enthusiasm and passion in the room was there because we were working collaboratively as a team. We were listening to each other; we were sharing possibilities and we were planning how we could support each other. We were building symbiotic relationships.
Mutual relationships and strong connections are critical in nature too. Nature knows that this is what builds resilience, evolution in fact is built on this concept. Those species that work well and adapt with their surroundings are the ones that thrive.
The soil itself is home to trillions of microorganisms, each one working in a symbiotic relationship with another. That is trillions of relationships that we do not understand nor can easily explain or extract. The soil, to modern science, remains a largely under studied and mystical ecological system.
Maybe we don’t need to fully understand each of these relationships, even if they are crucial to all live above the soil.
Maybe, all we need to do is appreciate and buy-in to the principle that they work. That working collaboratively, in a way that benefits both parties rather than competing with them, builds resilience and strength on both sides of the relationship.
Maybe this is something magical that we have inadvertently created at Fordhall through our community-ownership scheme and all the projects we now run on-site.
This is something that Dad spoke about on many occasions. He always believed that we should be working with nature, and he always praised ‘his workers in the soil’ and gave thanks for all their hard work, appreciating that he needed to support them to allow them to support him.
Maybe this is something to be celebrated and to be shared.
Maybe, this is an approach from the past and for the future; where diversity, long-term thinking and collaboration are not moments of inspiration, but instead become the normal ways of working.
Maybe this is why Fordhall is as relevant today, in a world of crisis, as it was in Dad’s day and even back in 2006 when we had to fight to save it from development.
Maybe it is not maybe at all.
If you would like to share this journey with us, by purchasing a share in Fordhall, they are still available and you too could become a landowner and steward of Fordhall Organic Farm.