Community farm seeks crowdfunding help to support organic pioneer’s legacy

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Volunteer builders jumping for joy as they help construct the bunkhouse at Fordhall Farm.

A pioneering community shares scheme that saw an organic farm in Market Drayton saved from development has been reopened to raise cash to fund a unique build. England’s first community-owned farm, Fordhall Organic Farm in Market Drayton, is urgently seeking help further the legacy of its organic pioneer, Arthur Hollins.

Arthur’s children, Charlotte and Ben Hollins, who run the farm, are re-launching their community shares scheme in a bid to raise £15,000 to support the construction of an innovative straw bale community building at the farm.

The unique bunkhouse is being built with traditional construction techniques and will have the UK’s first pine-tar shingle roof, made from 20,000 shingles.

The roundwood timber frame has been produced by a workers cooperative in Wales. The timber is all harvested by hand and crafted by hand, with no machinery on site. It is oak pegged together and by using the roundwood, waste timber is reduced. Furthermore, it allows the smaller trees which are no good for conventional timber yards to be fully utilised and not wasted.

The walls are all made from straw harvested in Shrewsbury and built on site by members of the Fordhall community. Internally this will be rendered with clay and externally it will be rendered with lime.

Recycled car tyre foundations, sourced from the local town, have been used for the base. No CO2-emitting concrete has been used. The straw walls and sheep’s wool in the roof will form the insulation needed and PV panels will be erected to produce electricity for the building.

Learning how to clay render the walls.

Community Ownership Works

Following a fight to save it from development, Fordhall Farm was placed into community ownership in 2006 by Charlotte and Ben, thanks to the money raised from sale of £50 community shares to over 8000 members of the public.

The community share scheme is now being re-launched through the Crowdfunder platform to help raise funds for the building – and they are appealing for as many people as possible to join in to become part-owners of the farm.

The lifelong shares entitle people to have a say in the running of the farm by giving a vote at the Annual General Meeting.

“We want to develop the unique ability we have at Fordhall to engage the community with every aspect of the farm,” said Charlotte.

“We want to expand our care farm, which works with adults with learning disabilities, develop our youth project, support our volunteers, many of whom suffer from loneliness, and most importantly provide more opportunities for young people to experience life on the farm – this bunkhouse will do that.”

The building will offer much needed space for vital community projects such as the Care Farm and youth project.


For any further details on the project, or information on how to become a landowner of Fordhall Farm for Christmas, details can be found at https://www.fordhallfarm.com.