Young Farmers Save Historic Farm
by Sophie Hopkins
Ben and Charlotte are two young Shropshire farmers who have taken on their family heritage and joined with national supporters to save their pioneering farm. They’re selling shares in Fordhall Farm, a unique place established by their dad. Their hope is that they can save it from the developer’s clutches.
Their late father, Arthur Hollins, was one of few farmers who remained organic after the Second World War, over 60 years ago. He spent his life researching soil fertility and created a national recognition for Fordhall Farm when he pioneered yoghurt production in this country.
The Fordhall Community Group and the Community Farm Land Trust Project (CFLT), have launched a new form of community ownership structure and they are determined to secure Fordhall Farm and shape it into an educational facility promoting healthy living and sustainable farming techniques.
“This cutting edge project will ensure that young farmers – and their communities – can gain permanently affordable access to farms. Many have the skills and motivation but little capital. At the same time, the demand for good locally grown food increases and people want to re-connect with local farms and build sustainable rural communities.” says Greg Pilley, Project Leader of CFLT, and a national expert on local food and Community Supported Agriculture.
With the ever-increasing distance between food production and consumers, Ben and Charlotte Hollins, aged only 21 and 23, say “Fordhall Farm offers the perfect opportunity to reaffirm the relationship between the landscape and the way it shapes the lives of those who populate it”
The not-for-profit Community Owned Land Trust has taken the initiative and is selling shares of the farm to those who wish to support all that Fordhall represents, such as buying local food, sustainability, organics, healthy living, and life long learning. Although the shares are non-profit making, by investing in Fordhall Farm, members are making their opinions heard and people are sitting up and taking notice.
Charlotte said: “The potential of this farm is unbounded and the vitality of all those involves gives the project so much energy. Fordhall is open to everyone’s help and we believe that by them getting involved people will realise the importance of the issues that Fordhall Farm, through its decades of organic farming, advocates”.
As the average age of farmers is increasing (55+), The Fordhall Initiative has created a stir – the three leaders in this group are all under the age of 24 but are ploughing forward with pure determination and courage.
Shares will be on sale from 28th September following their campaign launch in Market Drayton. Further details are available at www.fordhallorganicfarm.co.uk. Take advantage of this inspiring motion and support the future of farming.