Fordhall Organic Farm, Market Drayton
We live in North Shropshire and there are definite perks to living in one of the country’s most rural counties, one of which is that you don’t have to travel very far to find somewhere nice to visit – in fact we have Fordhall Organic Farm almost on our doorstep!
Fordhall is one of the longest running natural organic farms in England and is England’s first community-owned farm after everyone came together to save the land from being bought by Müller Dairy UK who are right next door (why yes, your lunchtime Müller Corner probably came from where I live). This means that Fordhall effectively has about 8,000 landlords and Ben and Charlotte are the tenant farmers – the community spirit and warm welcome always received at the farm is doubtless down to this one fact. Everyone locally is proud of Fordhall and will work together to support it and in return it offers plenty back to the community, not least in the form of the nicest pork baps I have ever eaten.
There is loads to do if you want to visit:
- There are three Farm Trails of varying lengths to explore taking you through open farmland, woodland and across lower marshier ground giving you a variety of stunning views and wildlife spotting opportunities
- Arthur’s Restaurant showcases the best of Fordhall’s bounty along with seasonal produce in a beautiful converted barn setting with additional outdoor seating. They even have a good selection of local ale and organic ciders and wines to go with the super tasty food! (Booking is essential for Sundays and evenings)
- Glamping in yurts! (We haven’t done this yet but I am sorely tempted even though it is only five minutes from my house!)
- The Farm Shop sells meat (both fresh and frozen) and eggs from the Fordhall Farm animals (and sometimes from other local farms too) along with locally produced vegetables, Shropshire honey, jam, organic ice cream and all kinds of cheese. There are other tasty treats to be found there too – I find something new every time I visit
- Special Events – all year round Fordhall hosts all kinds of events from a Beer and Music Festival (6th September 2014) to Basket Weaving workshops (16th August 2014), there’s something for all ages and they are great value for money.
Last year my parents and I went on a Dawn Chorus walk which meant getting up to the farm for 4:30am (easier for me than my parents who live a bit further away!) We then had a guided walk around the farmland with a bird expert who helped us to identify all the birds by their calls and songs as well as spot them (sometimes – they are good at hiding!) It was rounded off with a super tasty cooked Fordhall Breakfast which was well needed after such an early start and energetic morning. For £12 it was fantastic value and I learned a lot even if it did involve getting up practically in the middle of the night. This year’s Dawn Chorus walk is this Saturday (3rd May 2014) and is still just £12 if you feel like ringing up and booking a last minute place!
Last weekend it was Fordhall’s Spring Celebration and the Smalls and I headed over to join in the fun. We were lucky and the predicted rain held off so we got to enjoy everything in the sunshine which always helps!
There were of course the animals to see – Fordhall has a purely grass-fed herd of Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cows, Gloucester Old Spot and Saddleback pigs (fed on the hops from the local brewery no less!), Organic sheep and free range chickens and guinea fowl. Tori was particularly taken by the guinea fowl on this visit – their speckled colouring fascinated her. And of course the piglets, lambs, chicks and teeny tiny newborn calves were popular too.
Then there was a multitude of stalls showcasing local businesses of all sorts, a hay bale tunnel (half of which I think came home in Arthur’s hair), mini hoopla, splat the rat, human-powered cannons (tennis ball ammunition – don’t panic!), sack races, welly wanging (yes that is a real thing, welcome to the countryside…) and an Easter egg farm trail to keep you busy. There was plenty of food and drink on offer including the chance to make your own pizza and bake it in an outdoor clay oven in the farm’s vegetable garden!
The Smalls had a whale of a time – Tori got her face painted for the second time in two days (I think she has a slight addiction to the stuff) and we had to literally drag them away from playing on the seesaw with their friends when it was time to go.
We will definitely be back in July for the summer celebrations to do it all again, that’s for sure!
The Farm Shop, trails and restaurant are open Tuesday-Saturday 9:30am-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm and the restaurant is open for events most evenings as well.
To read about Fordhall’s history and how it came to be completely organic 65 years ago pop over to their website: www.fordhallfarm.com
You can even follow them on Twitter: @Fordhallfarm
Or like them on Facebook: Fordhall Organic Farm
You will also be able to find their full list of events for the year and more information about the shop, restaurant, yurts and projects they are running.
If you are ever in the area it is well worth a visit and it doesn’t have to cost you a penny – the farm trails are free to explore and you are quite welcome to just pop up and say hello to the pigs if you feel like it!