Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


Leave a comment

No Finer Life

Join us on Saturday, 30th September for No Finer Life: A Farming Story, the one act play by Graham Harvey, followed by an audience with Graham Harvey of the The Archers. 

Set in the Oxfordshire countryside at the end of World War Two, No Finer Life is rich in tradition and full of vivid, memorable characters. But this is no nostalgic, bucolic ramble.

This is Elizabeth’s story…Finer Life

What inspires a young Somerset land girl to set off in search of a best selling author in the darkest days of war? The story moves between the 1940s and the current day, reflecting that the love of the countryside and the need to protect it are timeless.

Graham Harvey, for twenty years the Agricultural Story Editor of The Archers and writer of more than 600 episodes, brings to the stage the true tale of an unlikely Cotswold hero and an enduring romance.

A townie by birth, Graham has had a life-long fascination with the countryside and those who live and work within it. As a student, he stumbled across a battered copy of George Henderson’s book, The Farm Ladder, and it has been an inspiration ever since.

In the mid-1980s he joined the script-writing team of the long-running radio series The Archers, since when he has written more than 600 episodes. He spent twenty years as Agricultural Storyline Editor, creating some of the best-loved characters and most memorable plots.

His stage plays include The Shearing Gang, The Process, and The Darkness of the Sun, the story of writer Henry Williamson. For TV, he has written episodes of The Bill and the space adventure, Jupiter Moon.

Graham’s journalism includes writing for The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, New Scientist, and Country Life and for three years he wrote the Old Muckspreader column in Private Eye. His books include The Killing of the Countryside, The Forgiveness of Nature, We Want Real Food and The Carbon Fields.

 

Make a Day of It—Saturday, 30th September 2017

Join in Apple Day Activities at Church Farm Orchard Free Entry all Day and Free parking at Church Farm Ardeley

4.00pm Optional:- Farm Tractor & Trailer Talk & Tour (£4.50)
5.00pm Pre-Show Drinks in the Jolly Waggoners Pub (pay at bar) and
5.00pm Pre-Show Barbecue/Buffet & Bites from the Farm : Introduction (£5.00)
5.55pm Walk to the Village Hall
6.15pm No Finer Life – Play Begins (Tickets £9 )
7.30pm Interval
7.45pm Audience with Graham Harvey, Author & Agricultural Editor of The Archers Q&A
8.30pm Retire to the pub : Cheese & Desserts (£5.00, pre bookable online)

Book online: www.churchfarmardeley.co.uk, Events

 

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

New Grass Ley Planned for Lowany

Over the summer we will be breaking up 5 acres of old worn out grass, and docks. The reseed will be a mixture of different ryegrasses and white clovers, each variety having different growth habits. It will also contain “Timothy,” a great early spring grass which cattle love.Timothy grass

Timothy-grass (Phleum pratense) is an abundant perennial grass native to most of Europe except for the Mediterranean region. It is also known simply as timothy, meadow cat’s-tail or common cat’s tail. It is one of the Phleum genus, consisting of about 15 species of annual and perennial grasses.

It is probably named after Timothy Hanson, an American farmer and agriculturalist said to have introduced it from New England to the southern states in the early 18th century. Upon his recommendation it became a major source of hay and cattle fodder to British farmers in the mid-18th century.

Timothy-grass can be confused with meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis) and purple-stem cat’s-tail (Phleum phleoides).

Tim

 


Leave a comment

Who Cares About the Countryside?

Over the last couple of months I have been working with other organisations whose role it is to care about the natural world and more specifically the countryside around us.

DSC07745

Kenny Mackay is a wonderful man, full of fun and mischief and with an eye for doing things to help nature along the way. He works for the Countryside Restoration Trust, an organisation whose mission is to help nature and man live together in mutually beneficial ways. Kenny was a mine of useful information and the Trust support farms to fulfil their obligations to the natural world and maintain their own survival.

Remarkably, Kenny and I have both done the same training course with the lovely people at Capel Manor College, who run Countryside Management courses, which include the safe use of chain saws in their Forestry and Arboriculture schools.

Working in the heart of Panshanger Forest with ancient trees was a wonderful insight into the commercial usage of trees as well as the magnificent setting and integration of the mix of creatures all dependent one upon the other.

DSC07752

An oak tree can support around 1,000 other species and I was fortunate enough recently to watch barn owls swooping down from their man made homes to devour voles which had come to live in the long grass left to grow on a privately owned piece of land.

An oak tree of course grows from a tiny acorn and this interest in nature, if sparked at an early age, can feed a person from the cradle to the grave, growing in its diversity, depth and appreciation.

Recently Rozelle and I have been invited to Hollybush School to watch their Farm Rap and this example of outdoor education for a group of 31 children from winter through to the summer has been an example of the impact this type of education can have. (see School Visit and Job Well Done)

20170425_192002

There are indeed lots of people out there who care about the Countryside. Thank God.

Chicken Dave

 


Leave a comment

A Job Well Done

Tuesday 11th July saw the completion of a piece of work lasting several months. Hollybush School invited Rozelle and Chicken Dave to their school to meet the parents of the children who had visited the school on five occasions throughout the annual cycle of the farms year. (see Hollybush School Farm Visits)

IMG_1343

The children produced a rap describing the things they had done on the farm, and Nicky Lawson who was the driver behind the project and a friend of our own Jill Goehringer, set up a beautiful rolling backdrop of many of her fabulous photos from the visits.

Each child had a learning diary relating to their time at the farm, and the parents were able to add their testimonies to the enthusiasm and excitement that the trips created.

We were greeting with smiles and waves greeted and enjoyed the memories of each of the five visits, reminding us of the times we had shared together and the spin offs which included writing skills, drawing skills, epic adventures and a new home for a stick!!

It was a huge endorsement that learning doesn’t only go on in the classroom and that gaining new skills can take place in many places in many forms.

Many thanks must go to the support of the school governors, head mistress, supporting teachers, especially Nicky, the staff at the farm, and the parents and children themselves.

Truly a job well done.

Chicken Dave

 

Farm Rap by Hollybush Young Farmers

This is the learning, the fun and the charm
Of all we have done on our trips to the farm.

We saw the pigs, we saw the cows,
We saw the cat which always miaows.

Baby lams they’re the best,
We wove sheep’s wool to make a vest
(well we made a rug but that didn’t rhyme
So we had to change the truth this time!)

We made a scarecrow and stuffed it with straw,
The birds are gone now but they weren’t before.

We mostly loved the eggs and picking up hens
And seeing the lambs with the mums in the pens.

The bluebells were beautiful, we loved climbing trees,
The tractor ride awesome, we want more if you please.

Finley found a stick that was so long and so cool,
He wanted to bring it back to our school.

Dave said he’d look after it and now take a look,
He’s written a story that will be a book!

We planted strawberries, we climbed in the pooh,
Next time we hope that you can come too.

Time at Church Farm was really sick
It was so great, it went too quick!

To Rozelle and Dave, let’s give a big CHEER
Thanks a million, you’ve made our year!

 

 


Leave a comment

Hollybush School Farm Visits

Over the course of this academic year we have visited Church Farm Ardeley half termly.   Children were carefully selected from years 1–6, ages 5-11years old, who were deemed as most likely to benefit most from a broader educational opportunity.

Hollybush photo

The children have been exposed to a wide range of experiences over four seasons and through carefully planned activities they began to understand how the farm works on an ongoing cycle. Tasks ranged from planting strawberries in winter, which they then harvested and weighed, ready to be sold in the farm shop in summer. They saw large amounts of turkeys in autumn and noticed how they had gone in the spring. However new chicks had arrived in the summer to replenish the stocks. Children made the connection to Christmas. They saw how pregnant ewes were categorised, then newborn lambs arrived which they were able to bottle feed during a subsequent visit. In the summer they then helped to collect the shorn fleeces and attempted weaving, making their own mat.

The children were most animated by the chickens. The journey from being slightly wary during the first visit, culminated in them confidently entering the field and the sheds, happily picking up chickens, feeding them and collecting eggs freely. They learned how to categorise the eggs, preparing them to be sold.

The children were so open to the new and amazing hands-on experiences offered to them. They were guided expertly but sensitively by Rozelle and Dave who adapted activities for younger and older children, answering even the most obscure questions posed.

The children never ceased to amaze me. They pick up on things which we as adults don’t see, finding opportunities which we look past, and Dave and Rozelle embraced this to the fullest. For example when a child found a stick which he reluctantly left at the farm in Dave’s care, Dave transformed this seemingly inanimate object into a character which we hope will become a published book.

The impact of these farm visits, although hard to measure in terms of educational assessment, has been a privilege to witness. Children who struggle academically, have found something to get excited about and excel at. One practitioner who had supported a child in school throughout the year, commented that she had never heard the child speak so much and with so much enthusiasm as when she joined the children during the summer visit to the farm. Several teachers have commented on how animated the children are and how much they want to talk about each visit, which for some is a great achievement in terms of speech and language. They have also been able to relate to their journey on the farm in school, where there has been a connection to the farm in their work . In these cases the children who can struggle in the classroom, have seen themselves as experts, and in some cases have been quite vocal. Children have experienced unequivocal success through practical, ‘real’ experiences which have given them confidence and boosted their self-esteem outside the classroom; it is something which has truly humbled me.

We very much hope that these children will continue to benefit from these farm visits in academic years to come.

Our heartfelt gratitude to Rozelle and Dave. Every child deserves to find success and something to be animated about. Our farm visits have certainly provided a catalyst to help towards that goal.

Nicky Lawson

 


Leave a comment

Spring Clean

This spring we’ve had a proper spring clean that hopefully will continue.

Farms and environmentalists are well known to do a spot of hording. Everything can potentially be repaired or re-used somewhere else, but also on farms there always is an enormous to do list and never any time to repair things.

In the tidy up of a container an old potato grader was found.

2017_0401_ChFm17_0218

It took a lot of indoor space so my initial thought was to dust it off and put it as a quirky exhibit outside the café. An initial dust off, a wash and a bit of linseed oil and the result is amazing.

I spent a few evenings doing research on the potato grader online and found a wealth of information and created a summary for the sign above it.

This machine is a Cooch and Son’s potato sorter, grader or riddler.  It was bought in 2014 and was used a few times at Church Farm to sort our potato crop. It is still in working order. From the research we have done the machine would have been built between 1906 and 1937.

grader oval

Cooch and Son’s were based in Northampton and were renowned for their agricultural machinery and even won prizes at the Royal Agricultural Show of England RASE with their potato graders.

Originally the potato sorter would have been operated by turning a wheel at the back by hand, which made the conveyer belt work and move the grates horizontally.  Later on the electrical motor from SEM was added to mechanise the process even further.

There is a nice video online to see the machine in action.

Now that I know the history of this machine, it might deserve a roof over it to protect it against the winter rain, which adds another job to the job list!2017_0401_ChFm17_0215

We would like to use some of the old machinery laying around the farm as historical exhibits to add another of layer of interest and educational value to the farm. If anybody would be keen to help cleaning up some of the machinery and help with some of the research to make this happen please contact ann@churchfarmardeley.co.uk.

Ann

 


Leave a comment

Around the Farm

It’s the 1st of June and we have just planted two acres of “pollen & nectar mix.”  At Church Farm our logo is a bee. Bees need all the help they can get so we have planted…

049

 

Red cloverbee clover
Alsike clover
Phalecia
Sweet Bottom Clover
Sainfoin
Birdsfoot trefoil
Lesser Knapweed
Musk Mallow

 

 

 

Strawberry season has begun. You might have received strawberries in your farm box, already, and some have been available in the shop.  The early crop is  being harvested and there will be more to come.

strawberries.png

Little Farmer birthday parties are great fun!  The Little Farmer Birthday Party package can include a tractor and trailer ride, or egg collecting. Woodland wild parties and little farmers bespoke parties can be arranged.  Our Wild Party packages are perfect if you love the great outdoors and you want to have a completely different kind of party.

party 2

 

Don’t miss a thing:

Church Farm Website

Church Farm Blog

Church Farm Store

Rural Care Blog