Please lend us your support?
The landowners of the 12-acre Cottage Field have taken the land back into their possession. Our family (the Hollins’ and our ancestors before them) have tenanted and farmed this land for generations and it is breaking our hearts to think we could lose it forever.
When the rest of Fordhall (128 acres) was placed into community-ownership in 2006, we always knew the landowners would wish to sell the remaining 12-acre Cottage Field for development at some point. We just hoped that time would never come. Unfortunately, it has. Whilst there is no planning permission currently granted, we know this is the landowners intention. We have voiced our strong will to purchase the Cottage Field from them (at market value) and place it into community-ownership with the rest of Fordhall, but that option is not currently on the table.
The loss of the Cottage Field means a large proportion of our winter-grazing area has now been lost. Dad’s (Arthur Hollins’) outdoor grazing system (Permaculture based Foggage farming), which we continue to operate, relies on these fields for out-wintering Ben’s 100% pasture-fed livestock. Without them, extra pressure will be put on the land, additional winter fodder will need to be purchased. Ultimately, our sustainable farming system is put in severe jeopardy.
There is so much that will be put at stake if we lose this field. We will not longer be able to hold large community events without the use of this field for car parking. All of the community work we do and offer will be at risk if the farms viability is compromised.
More than this, we have to think of the future. When Ben and I are gone, Fordhall remains in community ownership and will offer another lease to a new young farmer entering the industry. We need to keep the farmstead whole to ensure there is a viable sized farm to offer new tenants and to support the myriad of community projects we run.
Fordhall is a successful working example of how small family farms can thrive when there are close connections to the local community. Please support us to ensure this continues to be the case.
We need to demonstrate to the landowner and the council how much support there is to ensure the Cottage Field remains part of Fordhall Farm. We need to show them that maintaining small sized family farms is important! It is important for our livelihoods, it is important for wildlife, important for our economy and it is important for our communities.
We are inviting you to play your part in saving this part of England’s special, historic and organic landscape. All we need from you at present is your name and postcode on our petition of support. We need to demonstrate that you care too – please add your name to our list.
Long term we hope to buy this field, but we first need to convince the landowners to sell it to us! Every signature helps.
Update June 2020
In recent weeks, we have been informed by the owners that they are imminently going to seek planning approval for housing. This is devastating, but expected. We have confirmed with them that our intention to purchase it remains steadfast and strong, but no offer was forthcoming. They are determined to seek the highest value possible for the land and that means development. We will do everything we can to safeguard this beautiful meadow from development, with a view to bringing it back within Fordhall’s historic farmstead as soon as possible.
We want to thank everyone who has signed our petition of support and all those who have already sent in donations. These have been ring-fenced to support the campaign to purchase Cottage Field and we will add in any new donations to this ring-fenced pot.
The petition of support remains open and will be used to demonstrate the wealth of support to councillors, planners and all those of influence. We will use it to demonstrate that you care about this field as much as we do, and to demonstrate that keeping prime farmland as farmland, is vital to our economy as well as to our environment. We will also use the petition mailing list to keep you informed of all Cottage Field related developments. Please spread the word and share our petition far and wide, the power of the people is a mighty force!
The loss has already been significant. The damage caused to the rest of Fordhall during the last wet winter, with 30% of our winter grazing lost in the Cottage Field, was heart-breaking to see. In fact, the damage was so extensive, for the first time in 13 years we had to close our trails to the public for four months of the year. This is not something we wish to repeat on an annual basis. Fordhall should always be open to the community. We desperately need Cottage Field back.
Things could start to move quickly over the coming weeks, or it could take months. We will be seeking advice where we can and as soon as we have a definitive target to raise we will let you know.
In the meantime, please do keep sharing the word, adding signatures to our petition of support and keep your fingers and toes crossed for us.
Our very best wishes and heartfelt thanks to you all
Charlotte and Ben x
P.S. Whilst we are not actively fundraising for the purchase of Cottage Field yet, any donations received will be ring-fenced to support our campaign to purchase it.
Message from the Hollins Family
On the 29th September 2019 our family lost access to the Cottage Field and can no longer farm it as we have done for centuries. We are extremely grateful that the owners (a private family not based in Shropshire) have at least allowed us to continue renting the land where our pigs reside and we can only hope and pray that in the meantime they do not spray the land or plough it up. At the very least we hope they maintain its organic status and wonderful diversity of grass species our family has nurtured there.
If you can sign our petition of support and leave your contact details we will also be armed with a list of people who support us retaining this land as farmland. Not only for us to farm now, but for future tenants of Fordhall to farm too. This is about looking into the long-term. It is about the community owning a farm which is viable, and it is about planning authorities taking action at a strategic level, not what is presented to them day-to-day.
Our very best wishes and heartfelt thanks for all the support you have shown us past, present and future.
Ben, myself and our families really appreciate it. We know we are not on this journey alone and that gives us hope. It gives us strength and it encourages us to believe that this second fight will also be possible.
Thank you, on behalf of the Hollins family and the Fordhall Community Land Initiative.
Charlotte, Oli and Katherine (age 3)
Ben, Marie-Anne, Jamie (age 6), Isabelle (age 3)
Connie (mum) xxx