Fordhall Farm shows how enterprising young farmers can engage with the community, mutualise the land and put it into trusteeship using the Industrial and Provident Society structure, raise the purchase capital from members and balance community access rights with farming needs. Ben and Charlotte Hollins were given a Schumacher Award in October 2006.
Fordhall is a 128-acre organic farm bordering Market Drayton, Shropshire. The Hollins family has farmed it as tenants for three generations. Charlotte and Ben Hollins launched The Fordhall Project in 2004 to save the farm. Fordhall Community Land Initiative (FCLI) was formed in February 2005 by a large group of supporters to buy the farm, secure it for community access and to keep the Hollins farming. The landowner agreed to sell the farm for £800,000 to FCLI by July 1st 2006.
FCLI was incorporated as an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) for the benefit of the community, and the Farm Appeal was launched on September 28th 2005. The purchase money was raised by July 2006, with extensive national and local media coverage. Over 7500 people bought £50 shares, raising £600,000, with £100,000 interest free loans and a £100,000 loan from Triodos Bank.
FCLI, having secured the farm, is leasing it to the Hollins, as Fordhall Farm Ltd. FCLI will continue to ensure permanently affordable access for farmers both for now and the future. It will develop viable educational, heritage, environmental, nature trail and social activities with the community for social, economic and cultural benefits.