Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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Apple Day at Church Farm – 30th Sept

Apple Day

Vicars Orchard contains apples, pears, plums, greengages and damsons, crab apples, cherries, quinces, nectarines, peaches and medlars. Most are traditional varieties rarely available in the shops today. A lot originated locally, so there are many 19th and early 20th century varieties from River’s at Sawbridgeworth and Laxton’s at Bedford. Some like the Comice pear or the Mirabelle plum have been known since Neolithic times. There are approximately 130 different types of trees and over 700 individuals.

The orchard was laid out in spring 2008 and most of the trees were planted then. Most would have been two years old when planted here, making them 11 years old today. Most are grafts which means that the main trunk and root system is from a vigorous variety which would not have very interesting fruit, and the upper branches (and fruits) are from a more interesting variety which would struggle if planted in the soil.

This is an organic orchard. Instead of artificial fertilizers we use manure from the red poll cows, which over-winter alongside the orchard. No insecticide or herbicides are used and the orchard has resident bees: take care around the hives! Windfalls feed the pigs on the farm.

This is still a young orchard. In years to come when the trunks of the trees thicken and the fruiting branches are stouter and higher, it will be possible to combine fruit growing with grazing sheep or geese, allowing for natural fertilization and mowing, and then the trees will no longer be susceptible to rabbit damage which is a major problem at present.

pick your own

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 (from the home page)

 

 

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Community Interests and the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme

The first week of August saw Annie of Rural Care launch herself into the world of the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. This meant organising, arranging and running two days of activities on the farm for different local community groups.

The first was for a support group for people with Parkinsons which coincided with some miserable weather and a puncture, but as usual with all things Rural Care these small difficulties can be overcome with a bit of planning, preparation and creative thinking.

Chickens were visited and fed, lunch enjoyed and finally with the heavens opening, Church Farm sheep fleeces were miraculously turned into pieces of art.

The following day it was the turn of some Angels to visit the farm which are a support group for children with autism. They managed to get further afield to feed courgettes to the pigs as well as the customary visit to the chickens gratefully prepared by the Angelic Angelina and the rest of the gang from Rural Care.

Lisa from Angels commented on how much they all enjoyed the visit, which also included some planting in the allotment and some play time, and how great it had been to see the farm brought to life.

These visits are supported by Natural England and it is a joy to see people who might not get the chance to enjoy the farm and the countryside being able to get an insight into this way of life.

We are hoping to be able to share photos of the visits from Ray who was the photographer from the first group and Lisa from the second.

So well done to Annie and her support team which included Rural Care, The Café and all the plants and animals.

Chicken Dave

 

 

 


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The Magic Ponds

Josh is a young boy (6) with a great enthusiasm for the countryside and Chicken Dave is, well, Chicken Dave.

Together, along with Josh’s mum and dad, Harriet and Chris, they were going to explore the world of ponds with a little help from one or two people along the way.

The first magic pond belonged to their friend Aimee, the local music teacher who was teaching Josh how to play the piano. After his lesson he would meet Chicken Dave in Aimee’s garden and they would begin to explore ponds.

Thanks to the people, and especially Candy, at the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust they had a guide to tell them about a healthy pond and what should be in it.

There were 14 things on the list and in Aimee’s pond they could see only one. It was an enormous Yellow Iris.

by Josh and Chicken Dave

 

Chicken Dave and Josh#

Josh and Chicken Dave try to see Aimee’s pond!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josh and Chicken Dave try to see Aimee’s pond!


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Pond Life, Potato Tunnels and Countryside Management

Church Farm has a new guerrilla Countryside Management team!! Trying to keep everyone happy or indeed anyone happy in the Countryside or elsewhere for that matter is a big challenge. However one small boy that loves a challenge is Josh. He has been out and about trying to help save the various different habitats he is finding out in the countryside.

It all started with the generosity of a well known and well loved music teacher who offered Josh her greenhouse for growing things. Pots of herbs are thriving and the tomato plants ripening beautifully thanks to his care and attention with a bit of help from mum and dad.

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From pots to ponds, and it was noted that the garden containing said greenhouse had a pond that was somewhat dominated by one big plant with no diversity of pond life to be seen. Indeed the water was barely visible.

Enter Josh.

Plants were identified and removed, transplanted or composted and a magnificent drawing of a pond created showing the place before and after.

Further afield a larger pond was discovered near the potato tunnels (polytunnels for the more formal amongst you) with no water in it at all.

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Plans are now afoot for more transplants and water replenishment after consultation with Tim the Farmer.

Meanwhile the herb garden needed some more TLC, which it has started to get from Polly and Clare and more identification again to help with tastier dinners and lovelier smells.

Whilst the amazing horticulture team are doing this on a bigger basis to feed the farm and its guests, Josh and his family are digging in to help all creatures great and small.

Chicken Dave

 


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Agri-Cultural Exchange

I have been an intern at Church Farm for almost half a year now, and one of the reasons why I chose this place is the diversity. You can find a variety of domesticated animals, except dairy cows.

Back home in the Lower Rhine Region of Germany, dairy cows are dominating my life. I adore them since I started to work on a family owned dairy farm. It is a place where tradition and new technologies go hand in hand. Although it is a conventional farm, it is managed sustainably and animal welfare is a priority. Every cow, and there are around 80, has a name, and Eduscho is my favorite. She is 11 years old, which is quite unusual for modern dairy farming. There is so much I could tell you about these cows, but since it is summer, let me tell you how Eduscho is spending hers.

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Eduscho‘s optimal outside temperature is about 15°C, so you can imagine that summer isn’t her favorite time of the year, when the temperature can climb over 30°C. During that time Eduscho could become poorly due to the heat stress her body is suffering from. She has the chance to go outside onto the grassland, but when it‘s getting too hot she prefers to stay in the stable.

There she can cool down her body while having a cool shower. Above the eating grid there are little sprinklers that help her to feel more comfortable. On top of that, water nozzles behind huge fans are cooling down the air before it gets sucked in. If Eduscho wants to go outside she has to pass a gate which won’t open if she hasn’t been milked for a while. The responder around her neck is passing on the information to the gate. Then Eduscho will go to the milking robot, where she gets some special cow candy. A robotic arm moves under her udder to clean it with brushes, then a laser appears that tells the robot the location of the four teats, and the arm places the the cups onto the teats so the milking process can start. During that time there is an exchange of information between the robot and the responder.

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After the milking Eduscho will be able to pass the gate. The responder gives data about the rumination rate to the robot that also collects data about body temperature and the conductivity of milk. This data helps to analyse her overall health status. Before she leaves the robot she gets a little treatment for her hooves, you could call it a pedicure. Now after milking she might be in the mood for a nice back rub. She just has to push against one of the brushes and it starts to spin automatically.

Then she will head straight outside to eat the fresh grass. Standing next to Eduscho on the grassland you would observe that the agricultural land is surrounded by conservation stripes that offer habitat for wild animals. In the old barns where the calves are being raised, you can have a look at the busy swallows feeding their offspring. And as Eduscho is enjoying the twilight with its dropping temperature, you might be lucky and see the barn owls leaving their nest boxes under the gable of the barn.

Angelina

 


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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

 

 


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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)

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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!