Funding Boost to Organic Farm

The money will go to renovate their old farm buildings and turn them into a community-use space.

As reported in the autumn 2010 issue of Positive News, Fordhall Farm – saved from the clutches of developers by over 8,000 shareholders across the world – has proposed to renovate their redundant Old Dairy building and create an eco-visitor and education centre.

The funding, approved in October by Advantage West Midlands, means that the initiative can now go ahead. Charlotte Hollins, manager for the community trust which owns the farm, said: “We raised a remarkable £100,000 as match funding towards the grant earlier this year through the generous support of all our members, but with all the cuts in budgets, our grant funding was uncertain.”

The new developments will include a tea room serving local food, and a classroom space where people can gather to reconnect with food and farming. Working with Shrewsbury-based contractors, Shingler Construction, the plans for the renovation follow sustainable principles throughout, including sheep wool insulation, hemp and lime mortars, as well as some renewable energy infrastructure. The traditional appearance of the farm is to be retained and enhanced, bringing a modern twist to the historic building but still maintaining its agricultural and sustainable roots.

“This is a great result,” said volunteer Charlotte Brittain. “So far, we have made do with portacabins as offices and really struggled to provide school groups and other visitors with indoor space. It gets really cold in the winter too! We can’t wait for the new space to be available.”

The community society will own and run the tea room as part of the scheme, hoping to generate surplus revenue and fund the many education projects that the farm undertakes. Run as a social enterprise, everything will be local, homemade and prepared to the highest standards. A small orchard is also being developed, and there are plans to create an organic garden to grow vegetables and herbs for the kitchen.

“We hope the main part of the building will be completed by Easter,” added Charlotte Hollins. “This is a great chance to put Fordhall and North Shropshire on the national foodie map. It will help to attract visitors from all over the region to Market Drayton.”