Please lend us your support?
Photo kindly provided by the Shropshire Star
The landowner of the 12-acre Cottage Field has taken the land back into their possession. Our family have tenanted and farmed this land for generations and it is breaking our heart 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 this land 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 12 acre Cottage field and place it into community-ownership with the rest of Fordhall, but that option is not currently on the table.
The Cottage Field has been farmed by our family and our ancestors for hundreds of years and it just seems wrong that it can be taken away so easily, without even the option for us to purchase it ourselves.
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 (foggage farming), which we continue to operate, relies on these fields for out-wintering Ben’s 100 per cent pasture-fed livestock. Without them, we may have to put more livestock into sheds and buy in more winter fodder, both of which go against the system we run so sustainably here.
We would like to demonstrate to the landowner how much support there is to save the Cottage Field as part of Fordhall’s farming system. 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. We are gating names to support our case, in whatever way that will be needed and we would welcome your support in this very simple way.
Long term we hope to buy this field, but we first need to convince the landowners to sell it to us!
The situation now
On the 29th September 2019 our family lost access to this 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. This at least means we can retain our free range Gloucester Old Spots at Fordhall. However, our vital winter grazing land has been lost for the foreseeable future. We understand that they have no plans for the land in the short term, apart from our eviction, but however much we try, they will not agree to rent it to us whilst they plan their next step.
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.
We have a feeling that this is not going to be a quick resolve. But if you can sign our petition of support and leave your contact details, we will keep you updated of progress as and when things happen.
Our very best wishes and heartfelt thanks for all the support you have shown us past, present and future. Whilst we are not actively fundraising to purchase the land at present, any funds donated to us in the meantime will be held by the charitable society that owns the rest of Fordhall – the Fordhall Community Land Initiative – and ring fenced only to be used to support the retention of this field.
Ben, myself and our families really appreciate it. We know we are not on this journey alone and that gives us hope.
Charlotte, Oli and Katherine (age 3)
Ben, Marie-Anne, Jamie (age 6), Isabelle (age 3)
Connie (mum) xxx