Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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From the Farmer

Did you know….

  • In Vicars Orchard there are 700 trees and 130 different varieties of Top Fruit. Many local varieties include great names like “Reverend Wilks” and “Rivers Early.”
  • Much of the grass in the orchard we leave till late July before cutting. This for birds, wildlife and less work. Please help keep dogs from scaring ground nesting birds off nests.
  • “Bastard Fallow” – an old term for leaving ground and cultivating to kills weeds is being carried out in Lowany to control docks and thistles
  • Hoping for bumper crop of grass from Squitmore this year.
  • We finally got all potatoes and onions in on 13th May, fingers crossed.
  • Pigs are moving to fresh ground in Vicarage Field. Will grow mustard as a green manure where they have been, and then potatoes next year.
  • We have 2000 tons of manure to spread and plough in. Most will go onto the field vegetable ground in Great Field.
  • It was 10 years in February since Walnut and Vicars Orchard were planted.
  • Each year we cut 1/22 of the Squitmore Spring Wood in a coppice rotation. This has let in a lot of light and encouraged undergrowth in the past 10 years.
  • 90% of sycamores now removed from the woods and ash and oak regrowth has been encouraged.
  • There are bats galore!

Tim

 

 

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Meet Farmer Tom

Hello everyone, my name is Farmer Tom am 30 years old, married and have 2 boys, Toby and Noah, who enjoy coming to help on the farm with me. I have be working on the for nearly 3 years now and I really enjoy it.  I studied agriculture at Stratton School with a dream to work on a farm. But after I passed my exams I ended up working in retail. I did manage to work my way up to a store manager. but it was never what I wanted to do in life. Then I saw the job at Church Farm and I have been happy ever since.

What I enjoy most on the farm is sharing my knowledge with everyone about the farm and seeing the excitement in people’s faces when they get to see the animals close up. I looking forward to a busy camping season this year.

Farmer Tom leads activities like egg collecting and Farmer for a Day, and might be the driver for your Tractor and Trailer ride.  Be sure and say “Hi” when you see him at the farm!

 


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Rural Care Market Stall

The NHC students have been busy refurbishing the market stall at Rural Care.  NHC students prepared the stall for painting by giving it a big scrub to get all the dirt off.  We gave it fresh new paint all over.

We went on a treasure hunt around the farm for interesting things to decorate it with.  We are busy making signs, potting up plants and painting pebbles to sell.  With lots more exciting things to come!

So, next time you’re at Church Farm, don’t forget to visit our lovely market stall next to Home Field and pick up some treats!

NHC student, Kelly

 

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Interns at Church Farm

Did you know that Church farm provides intern placements for people from all around the world? For instance,  if you go to the farm shop you may notice a funny accent from our cashiers it may be because they come from France and Spain. To know a bit more about them, let us introduce you to Shirley.  She comes from La France, born in Normandy and studying in Burgundy. She has a Bachelors Degree in German and French literature, and is currently in a Masters Degree of International Business and Trade applied to the Food Industry, in Dijon (city of the best mustard in the whole world).

Our other lovely cashier is Irene. She comes from the South of Spain, and surprisingly, she claims that she loves the British weather. Also, she has lived in Germany for four years and finished her Bachelors degree in International Business Management. She is at Church Farm as a gap half-year before returning to Germany. She is in love with the cinema and reading. Coming from a big city, she appreciates the green Church Farm area where she can go for long walks and meditate.

Shirley and Irene

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Shirley, Charlie (UK), Irene,
Martine (The Netherlands)

 


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From the Farmer

  • We are way behind in planting this year and the ground is a real challenge, having baked hard on top, it is wet underneath still.
  • Cows finally went out on 18th April a month later than last year. So far we have 9 male calves and 1 female born. Thirty to come !
  • Cattle can be viewed from the footpaths around the farm and rotate across 4 fields moving about every 3 weeks.
  • Pig pens to move to new ground as soon as we can. Then we plant mustard, then plough that in and grow vegetables, as it acts as green manure and stops nitrogen leaching out of the soil.
  • 25 white leghorn (white birds, white eggs), 25 Cuckoo Marans (Speckeldy very dark brown eggs), and 25 Light Sussex (White bird, brown eggs) have joined the flock in the Walnut Orchard.

 —Tim

 


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New Chef, New Menus

Have you had a meal in the pub recently?  At the end of April I sat down with Aaron Clarke, the new executive chef for Church Farm, including the Jolly Waggoner, Café and Shop.  He was born and raised in Milton Keynes and came to us not long ago, and has brought along a team he has worked with for the past couple years.  He is producing menus for the pub and café, and producing food for the shop.

chef Aaron

His training has been on-the-job, including time with Michelin star chef Clive Dixon in Cookham at the White Oak and at the “best pub in England,” the Hand and Flowers in Marlow, and also told me that his brother, Shane, has been a huge influence on his career in catering. Aaron held a Rosette at the Deddington Arms in Oxfordshire.  He has been a chef for 10 years and has produced menus for seven years and comes to us with experience, enthusiasm, and a strong work ethic.

Aaron is confident that you will notice improvements at the Jolly Waggoner in the coming months, and would love to speak with you when you are in the pub.  His focus is the customer’s experience, and he wants you to have a good one.  He is committed to growth and improvement.

He wants everyone to know that the pub menu features produce from the farm and is the best it can be.  The quality of the ingredients in all our kitchens is assured, because we can see it all growing and grazing.  You will find a varied menu at the pub, with vegetarian and gluten free choices. He tells me there will be a new menu in the café soon, as well.

Perhaps I can tempt you with a sampling of items from the current pub menu:

Nibbles:  Lamb Scrumpets and Crispy Pork Bites

Starters:  Gin Cured Salmon and Cauliflower and Worcestershire Fritters

Traditional Classics:  Fish and Chips, and Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie

Mains:  Beetroot Rissoto, and Church Farm Loin of Lamb

Gin cured salmon

Gin Cured Salmon

 

Aimee

 


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Lambing 2018

There has been lots of activity down in the lambing sheds this year with 106 lambs being born! We officially finished the season on Saturday 21st of April with a lovely set of Suffolk triplets. It is always bittersweet when lambing finishes as there is no longer the anticipation, surprise and excitement of new arrivals each morning. But there is also relief as the long nights waiting and worrying about ewes in labour and newborn lamb troubles are over for another year.

Our public lamb bottle feeding activity has been as popular as ever again! Our Co-Farmers have really enjoyed feeding the lambs that were not fed during the public sessions, with many taking responsibility to make up the milk and making sure the bottles were cleaned after every use.

As we are a working farm it is never a good idea to have favourite animals but it is very difficult sometimes! A huge staff favourite this year is Swede. He was the first lamb to be born on our site this year and also the first Church Farm lamb who needed to be bottle fed! Swede’s mum was a first time mum, who can often have difficulties delivering and bonding with their lambs. She had delivered the lamb all by herself but another pregnant ewe came over and started cleaning him up. This caused Swede’s mum to become very confused and reject him! We tried all the tricks like rubbing Swede with straw, rubbing the afterbirth and fluids back on him but Mum still didn’t want to know. She ended up becoming aggressive towards Swede and the decision was made for us to remove him. He is now 7 weeks old and is the leader of all the bottle fed lambs! As you can see by the pictures he is growing into a big lad!

lamb photos for may

We now have the mammoth task of looking after 106 rapidly growing and ever exploring lambs! It is a good job we have the help of the Co-Farmers to assist us with this! At times it is very hard work and often stressful but when the sun is shining and 106 lambs are running and jumping around the field we look around and think—it wasn’t that bad, roll on next year!

Kelly