Posted 31 March 2006
A PIONEERING farming project has been stepped up with the support of Harper Adams University College.
The Fordhall Community Land Initiative, which is jointly run by Harper Adams’ student Ben Hollins, is holding a charity ball at the Newport-based university college.
The event, on May 13, will raise vital funds towards the £800,000 needed to secure the future of Market Drayton’s Fordhall Farm.
Twenty-three-year-old Charlotte Hollis, who runs the farm with her younger brother Ben, commented on the event: “The Charity Ball is an opportunity for people to come together to support Fordhall, whilst having a fantastic evening of fun and entertainment.
“We are extremely grateful for the generous support that Harper Adams have offered for the event. It is encouraging to know that local colleges and Harper Adams in particular, are supportive of our project and understand its importance to the area and to future generations.
Ben is very positive about the advantages of gaining a university education: “Harper Adams is the United Kingdom’s prominent university college, specialising in rural, food, and land-based industries. The teaching of rural business opportunities can also be adapted to the small family farms, which are being lost every day.
“Fordhall Farm is trying to stop this decline and we are very pleased to be holding this event at Harper Adams.”
The Fordhall Initiative is being driven forward with the help of volunteers; all with the aim of saving Fordhall Farm from being broken up and sold off.
It aims to secure and hold the land assets of Fordhall Farm for community benefit and to ensure permanently affordable access to farmland for farmers.
It also hopes to ensure appropriate access to the farm for the community and that the farm is managed sustainability using organic farming methods, with appropriate management for wildlife, biodiversity, heritage, access and to provide an educational and social resource.
Charlotte added: “By securing Fordhall Farm, the initiative is committing to building a sustainable future whilst guaranteeing that farming will be an affordable way of life for generations to come.
“This unique piece of Shropshire’s heritage is the setting for a community driven venture which is helping to reconnect people with the land, whilst at the same time promoting the full 'pasture to plate' cycle.”
“In an ever demanding consumer economy, traditional farming is struggling to be a profitable profession. It is challenging for small farmers to compete with large scale producers and cut-back prices.”
“Fordhall Farm is one of the longest running natural farms in England and this heritage needs to be protected and preserved. It is this combination of history, environmental qualities and undeterred motivation which has made Fordhall Farm a treasure to visit.”
Once the future of Fordhall Farm is secured, organisers plan to open an organic cafe and construct an education resource centre and bunkhouse - for use by education groups, care groups and activity weekends.