Over the last week Ben, Sophie and I have been out and about meeting you and spreading the Fordhall message.
We spoke first of all to the Stafford Soil Association Group. This is a local group of organic enthusiasts who wanted to know more about the Fordhall Community Land Initiative. Ben and I described how we had taken over Fordhall back in 2004, in a very run down state, with no livestock and no money. However, what we did have was the energy and determination to make the farm a success and to make it the flourishing people place it once was. We also spoke about our late fathers Foggage outdoor grazing system and why he stopped adding chemicals to the land at Fordhall.
Fordhall has moved on so much since we first took over the tenancy. With over 50 cattle, 123 sheep and 20 pigs our new business, Fordhall Farm Ltd has grown. With everything being sold through the farm shop, we have been able to focus our energies on bringing people back to Fordhall and on creating a new charitable structure, the Fordhall Community Land Initiative.
This was an extremely successful meeting, we were able to sell more shares and more importantly to gather some willing volunteers who then joined us last weekend.
Our next stop was a talk to the Shrewsbury Rotary Club by kind invitation of Mervyn Davies from Howsons Accountants. Mervyn has helped and advised us at the farm since the very beginning. He has been a reliable source of skilled advice for both Ben and I as we have learnt the ins and outs of business through our farm shop.
Sophie and I spoke to the smartly dressed men of the Rotary last Tuesday. We spoke of the benefits of the Fordhall Community Land Initiative to the rural economy and the future of farming; we asked for their support.
Our final talk of the week was to Market Drayton Town Council. We went to ask for their written support for the Fordhall Community Land Initiative. Sophie and I spoke of the benefits to the town both locally and socially. As a draw for tourism to the area and as a resource for the community both in terms of education and culture, the council were in full favour.
They agreed by vote to write a letter of support for the Initiative and one to be sent to the current landowners. We must pass on our thanks for their support, in conjunction to the printing support already offered by North Shropshire District Council and the £20,000 grant towards land purchase offered by Shropshire County Council.
This was a hectic week and with talks in the late evenings we were all exhausted. However, each talk also left us with a new burst of energy and determination. It is the support we recieve each time we meet you that keeps this project going and which will make it the success it deserves to be.
With another 31 letters in the post this morning amounting to £5695.00 we are hitting £195,000. The each piece of support we gather whether it be financial, volunteer or simply vocal helps us to move closer to our £800,000 target. We have raised over half our money in a fourtnight. This pace and support needs to continue if we are to meet our deadline on July 1st.