Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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Graduating from the Farm

Many people come and go from the farm, some having stayed for a short time and some for much longer.  Something brings them and perhaps something else takes them away.

There is a time though that pre-ordained or not lets them know that their time is coming to an end and they will reflect on what they have seen or been a part of and look forward to what is to come. Memories of difficult times will take on a softer hue and impossible situations seem hilarious with the benefit of distance.

Friends may have been made from different cultures and first time experiences will have been shared many miles from home.  Different foods will have been tasted and different ways of living lived.  England may not be Church Farm but Church Farm is certainly part of England.

Now the summer is over people will be returning home with tales to tell, Nutella to look forward to and a chance to speak to people in their own language again.

This year for example we have enjoyed Anna’s company who has now applied for a job in the Caribbean and is currently picking grapes with her family in Sicily.  Ana from Spain is back to her studies in Barcelona along with all of our French visitors including Hanna.

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Anna and Javier

The lovely Amber has got herself a job with a university having found out that people more than plants were her thing and Eva has enjoyed a trip to Greece and to see her beloved family.

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Hanna and Ashley and a Chicken

 Su will soon be off on her travels again leaving Dejan and Javier to look after the Cupcake Café where Pauline spent her first visit to England with Anna.

Merrick is doing loft conversions and Carl has returned to the world of advertising while Stuart continues to caramelise onions and Drew entertains and feeds the people of Guatemala.

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Stuart in his whites, and blacks

 Texas Tom will soon be returning to the US to get married and leaves behind another array of remarkable pieces of carpentry that will provide comfort and shelter for those he may never get to meet.

Ashley will soon be in the Navy and Ben may never get back on his bike again.

Julia returns to Germany and may even stop on the way back to take another look at St Albans!

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Hungarian Bori, German Julia and French Elina sharing a sofa.

How she will miss English rural transport and perhaps baked beans and tomato ketchup!!

Chicken Dave

 

 

 

 

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George Orwell and the Jolly Waggoner

JWNot everyone is aware of history but a village has it’s tales of the past as much if not more than other places.  Things of truth and legend spread quickly, get embellished over a pint or two and then grow into epic stories of derring do.

The Jolly Waggoner which is also run by Church Farm and indeed by Tim’s brother Adrian has a long history and like the Church and the School and the Farm is a hub of social gatherings.

It is also a place of learning and earning with a new apprentice in place.

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Hippocrates revisiting his old school in Ardeley.

 

 

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Religion and Science side by side!

 

 

 All of us struggle at times, and some have more things to struggle against than others, and the farm and country life has an attraction and compassionate space for those who may be finding the urban life too difficult.

It is not unlike A Place of Refuge, a beautiful book by Tobias Jones, about setting up a piece of woodland and then opening it up to those who feel attracted for one reason or another.

George Orwell, the famous author of Animal Farm, who lived for many years in nearby Wallington, also wrote about his experience of being a kitchen porter in Down and Out in Paris and London.

It was from this humble role that people can move on, like Liam, one of our previous interns, who has now gone on to open his own restaurant in St Neots.  Stuart has now joined the team under Adrian’s tutelage and with support from North Herts College and was recently heard to say “the kitchen should be the cleanest room in the house.”  For a young man making his way in the world this was quite an insight and sign of his progression in a short space of time since coming to the farm.

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Washing up for how many!!!!

 More history could also be in the making from the Jolly Waggoner with secret talks about recreating the heady days of 1966 when England won the World Cup and mutterings of helping the school replace its broken goal posts with a charity replaying of the epic final.

Anna football

Anna displaying her football skills born thirty years after England’s victory.

Where were you fifty years ago?

 With apologies to residents and owners of the Village Green the training pitch has been removed to Squitmore Spring, an ancient field of couch grass, now beginning to resemble a piece of England’s Green and Pleasant Land.

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The Jules Rimet Trophy or World Cup.

 


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Going into Space with a Goat!

Many people will know that the Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space but before he made his epic journey to look at our beautiful planet a dog had been there first.

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Our one and only Planet Earth

Leika was the name of that dog and it’s journey is noted in the lovely film “My Life as a Dog” this is one of Sid the Sheepdogs favourite films.

Istvan and Sid

Sid training one of the police team (Istvan, who works on the farm)

Fred is our Pygmy Goat who can be pretty fierce for a pygmy and it’s best to keep your eye on him at all times.

Fred

What strange eyes you have, Grandma!

The Spacegoats we are talking of here are a local band who have played at the Jolly Waggoner at our Open Mic night last year and again at our Awards evening at the beginning of April.

Awards night

The Spacegoats and some of our Award Winners at the Jolly Waggoner

They were brilliant and helped good evenings become great ones.  Peter the German intern who has recently returned home used to say that everything is improved with music and he may be on to something there.

So thank you to Peter and the Spacegoats and Fred.

Peter and rabbit

Aug Wiedersehen Pet (e)

The White Rabbit says a Big Thank You to one of the hardest working and most talented interns it is possible to meet.

 

 


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Hot Chocolate Charlie

Charlie bobbingCharlie Vernier, a young Frenchman from Brittany arrived on the farm in October last year and very sadly we have now all wished him Bon Voyage as he returns to France.

Charlie crammed a lot into his time in England, visiting Cambridge and London, Hitchin and Stevenage.  He got himself a girlfriend who couldn’t resist his Gallic charm and fabulous desserts as well as moving his spoken command of the English language on a peg or two.  He was often seen doing the most unusual things and he would always be the first to get on and give something a go.  This went from apple bobbing on Apple Day to wearing the Ardeley Bee outfit, as well as driving a tractor.

His entire family of eight came to visit and brought with them glorious weather and a very strong sense of family.  They even took over the Jolly Waggoner and learned how to play and provided live music.  At home his sense of fun and adventure is expressed working outdoors at his father’s beach adventure business, and perhaps Charlie too was Dreaming of the Sea, the name of his father’s business.

As a young man on an adventure in a foreign land, he took very easily to the farm and particularly the more physical aspects, dealing with the animals and developed a very special Chicken impression which took the Ardeley Chicken Challenge at Open Mic night again in the Jolly Waggoner.

Charlie as the beeIt was here that he spent New Year, and when his new found taste for Caramel Vodka perhaps got the better of him, but all the friends he had made on the farm took care of him.  The next day he was back on the Chocolat Chaud and out and about amongst the pigs and chickens.

His final legacy to the farm was the refurbishment of the Diner Larder where he put his construction skills to good use and where we wished him a very fond farewell.