Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

We do our best to reduce waste, reuse and recycle here at Church Farm, by building with pallet wood, using bottles, jars and tins in our craft projects, fuelling bonfires with scrap wood, composting waste straw and raw food scraps, and reusing and repurposing many other items.  When you come to Church Farm, please bring your shopping bags and egg boxes.  When you return your weekly box, why not return those egg boxes, as well. Egg boxes can be reused many times.   And when they are no longer usable, they can be torn into small pieces and added to your home compost pile.

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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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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

 


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He Did It!

Yes, he did it, and we are all very proud.  Tony Hopkins completed the hottest London Marathon on record with a respectable time and collected over £3000 for Rural Care.  Both achievements are very impressive.  Thank you, Tony!

Tony with medal.jpeg

In Tony’s Words

I ran my fourth London Marathon on the 22 April, although the last one was 5 years ago!! I have been training throughout the winter and three weeks ago we even had snow, and yet it was predicted to be a hot one. As the big weekend approached, it look at if it was cooling down for the Marathon. However, in the morning the sun was out, with not a sign of any clouds, and it reached 24.2° C—the hottest London Marathon on record.

We were warned not to try beat any PB (personal best times) and take plenty of water.  There was extra showers put around the course and we were told to revaluate our race.

The race was started by the Queen and soon we were on our way.  Immediately there were people looking hot and complaining about the weather.  The sun brought the crowds out and I had the most amazing time being cheered on by the thousands of people lining the streets from mile one to the end.

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I was feeling strong and took the advice of water and didn’t even look at my time, however I was surprised I completed half by 2 hours 11 minutes. By the 18th mile there seemed to be people falling all over the place.  I witnessed 4 people lying on the ground with medical staff around them with oxygen which is scary to see, and then people being sick and people stopping as you were trying to run. This immediately had a negative effect on my mind set and although I was trying to stop those thoughts, I found myself starting to walk at this point. The crowds were fantastic and I managed to see many of my family and friends around the course which got me over the finishing line in under 5 hours.  Although I was, admittedly, a little disappointed with the time, I was proud of myself completing it and reflected on the money I had raised for Rural Care and how I felt so much in a better in myself physically and mentally.

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From the Farmer

  • Wet and cold spring has delayed cultivations, planting and the cattle going out into the fields.
  • 6 calves have been born so far this year, and there are 34 more to come!
  • It has been a great month for piglets – 3 litters of 8 going strong. One litter from a 7 year old Berkshire Sow.
  • Once the ground dries up, we will move pig pens to fresh ground.
  • Potatoes were in this time last year. We have two acres still to plant of Cara and Maris Piper.
  • Onion beds are ready and 2 acres to plant by hand soon.
  • We have finally started the planting of 500 summer raspberry canes at the bottom of Vicarage Field.
  • Everything is budding, and hopefully reports of hard late frost are exaggerated like most weather reports seem to be.
  • Unbelievably, its time to order turkey and goose chicks again.

Tim