Mary Cowen a niece of May Hollins, Arthurs first wife, explained, “I used to go to Fordhall for my holidays. I loved it there, I learnt how to hand milk the shorthorn cows and how to stook corn and various other jobs. I used to go down the fields past the castle hill, down to the bottom near the Tern River there was a deep pool and I used to pick watercress and May used to make wonderful watercress soup. There was always something going on and later on they started farm holidays. My father once said of him, “Arthur can get anybody to volunteer for anything and work really, really hard for nothing and then turn around and thank Arthur profusely for allowing them to do it. I think this philosophy has rubbed off on Charlotte really.” Mary went on to work at Fordhall organic Farm on two separate occasions, once as herdswoman and later on as a demonstrator at various high-class stores selling Fordhall dairy produce. Back in time a visit to, or a holiday at Fordhall Farm often got you involved in one or more activities.
I started volunteering at Fordhall farm about 20 months ago, I had done the odd little volunteering job at Fordhall in the past but the time and commitments involved in full-time teaching prevented me from getting more involved with the fight to save Fordhall and its subsequent activities. After a serious accident and its after-affects I was no longer able to carry on with my teaching career and I needed to find something to do to help me back on the road to health and wellbeing. I needed to look no further than Fordhall Organic Farm who always welcomes volunteers to help with on-going and new projects or the day to day running of the FCLI. At first I could only volunteer for very short periods of time as my confidence, physical and general well-being had taken a serious knock. Eventually, with the welcoming atmosphere and very caring attitude of the staff and volunteers, my confidence started to grow and I was able to commit more time to the farm.
One of my first tasks was the archiving of photos and printed material including newspaper cuttings. This led on to using the archive material to write a book about the dairy days at Fordhall. This was of course a team effort with Charlotte leading a team of volunteers who ploughed through the archives, collating information and with much deliberation and forthright discussion eventually produced an excellent book. (Fordhall Farm-The Yoghourt Years).
My volunteering experiences have included: helping out with school visits, helping with Care-Farming on Wednesday (organic gardening etc. with vulnerable people), writing monthly blogs linking past Fordhall with present day Fordhall, writing and publishing the history of Fordhall farm on the internet, using sheep’s wool to make insulation for yurts, sowing buttons onto yurt insulation, making various signs and tree planting. These are just a few of the activities I have enjoyed undertaking whilst volunteering at Fordhall.
I have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering here and I have made many new friends and acquired one or two new skills. I strongly advise anybody with time on their hands to have a go at volunteering. There are so many advantages to getting up and ‘giving it a go’. It isn’t always easy at first but with the help and support of other people your confidence and your belief in your own abilities will gradually return.
To find out more about volunteering at Fordhall including the volunteer working weekends click here.