Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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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!

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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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Camping with Campers in Nature

This month, Holly our Co-Farmer reporter, spoke to Ann and Rozelle about camping at the farm.  She used the farm brochure for research, learned about the Countryside Code, and also asked a friend of the farm about her camping experience.

 Camping on the Farm from the past
Campers had to book them and maybe a campfire in the website and we are looking forward to welcome you to our Church Farm and with showers and toilets on each field and they decided to rent a cabin or to bring their tents and their cars maybe on the beautiful fields with the camping hill and as many nights as they want and to enjoy it.  In the countryside with the campsite and campfire and barbeques too with map they had all this time.  They went circular farm walk with the farm trail and the wood cabins and the camp beds to blowup for their holiday and wood burning stove and if they want a campfire and to book in advance on they website if they want to.

 “What do campers do? We had an amazing time camping at Church farm. There is lots of space to run around and lots to see. We went for a walk around the village, visited all the animal and fed them, collected eggs. We checked out the farm shop and bought fresh food for our bbq. In the evening we sat around the campfire and watched the moon come up, and we were even lucky enough to watch the space station pass over. J Next time we plan to do more, maybe the tractor ride, or in the spring lamb feeding. There is lots to keep you busy around the farm, plus our son had great fun in the woodland play area.

It was lovely to see all the campfires in the evening and hear all the people enjoying themselves and the children able to run free in the field and enjoy the outdoors.”

Harriet Swindle-Roche

 

Photos by Harriet Swindle-Roche

Present with the Camping
They spend as many nights as they want on their camping hill with their bonfire and made up a story and listen to music before their bedtime till morning and what they had their breakfast. Then just be careful and beware of litter of anything they do, not to drop them on our farm.  Do not do that and jut do it on their own please.  Put it in our bin and don’t drop anymore and please don’t pick any wild flowers either and just leave it and walk away now in the countryside and please follow our rules.

Lie down under the stars and to watch the stars at night time with the bee’s making honey in their hive, in the trees with the birds to lay their eggs, with the butterflies and badgers and bugs to start to come out in the woodland, with the trees and the pond sometimes in the fields.

Future just the Camping Season
To get organised the camping gear and need more animals for our nature in our woodland like rabbits and birds and owls at night time with the stars in the night sky.  Do more in the daytime and get to work with the animals all grown up like lambs and the other animals to be fed and more like a hike round our Church Farm and the Farm Shop and the bottle feed the lambs and the egg collecting and the café to eat, and the pub to drink, and to play on in the woodland.

Holly

 

Rural Care, where care for land and people meet.  Rural Care enables people with learning disabilities and/or mental health issues to work on a farm, learn skills, and make friends.  Working on a farm is a great way to keep healthy, and build confidence and self-esteem.

 


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From the Farmer

  • We will continue to grow the Farm, Rural Care, education partnerships, and school visits, which currently employ over half the team.
  • Pub, Café, Food Production and Catering improvements are planned, as we are investing in a new team headed by Becca who is overseeing in a new post.
  • Recruited for new post of customer experience director – Claire will be joining us 20th March to oversee all aspects of shop, retail, visitor experiences, events, reception, and meet and greet.
  • Camping and glamping is expected to be the same number of people as last year but higher spend per head with us providing luxury tipi tents and glamping extras.
  • Improving the farm trail and membership offer.
  • Online Farm Shop, Farm Box Delivery, Meat for the Week, Wholesale outlets—We are opening up Free Friday delivery to all of Hertfordshire and North London.
  • Developing and continuing to grow the market for our food and produce at Aldenham Country Park which we run, and has 200,000 visitors a year.
  • Developing the Café and Farm Shop at Aldenham.
  • Creating additional apprenticeships following on from recent successes.
  • We will increase number of breeding cattle from 34 to 60 between Church Farm and Aldenham.
  • No increase is planned for other livestock and poultry.
  • We aim to grow 2 acres more field vegetables—extra pumpkins, carrots and parsnips.
  • Growing Maris Piper spuds this year.
  • Corporate Days out in the week—real activities for team building events helping on the farm.
  • Quiet Family Camping – we will continue to ensure that neither fellow campers nor neighbours are disturbed by amplified music and aim to have zero complaints on this again.
  • We are giving up the weddings and music events that we did up to 2016, which has resulted in a £60,000 revenue reduction. Plans this year include addressing this.
  • We will be planting 2 acres in plots of the farm this year for butterflies and bees: Sainfoin, Winter Vetch, Alsike Clover, Red Clover, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Lucerne, Black Knapweed and Musk Mallow.

Tim

 

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Lucerne


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Wanted: Volunteers

Ian Corley wrote a lovely article  for the January newsletter about his volunteering with Rural Care over the years and the benefits it has brought to the farm and his life.

Church farm and Rural Care have had many volunteers over the years.  Some have been with us since the beginning, like Ruth who comes weekly to support the Co-Farmers. Whilst other do a more intensive shorter burst of volunteering like John and Steve who come in twice a week to do maintenance jobs around Rural Care and the farm. Some take the lead in a particular project they see through from start to finish, like Roger, who organised a grid for the orchard and engraved 800 metal plaques with the individual tree names on.

This just gives you an idea of just a few people’s contribution at the farm.

What all our volunteers have in common is that they make a valuable contribution on the farm and that we simply couldn’t do what we do without them and we can never thank our volunteers enough for all they do.

Currently we are looking for more volunteers in maintenance, conservation, horticulture and retail.

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The nice thing is that you could commit to as little as once a month for a few hours and it would still make a difference.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities please contact Ann.

—Ann

 


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Students at Church Farm

Two North Herts College students recently wrote about their experiences as Co-Farmers at Church Farm.

Spring Jobs on the Farm

Springtime is when plant bulbs come out from the winter’s sleep.  There is lots to do on the farm preparing for this exciting time of the year.

On the allotment we are very busy of weeding out old plants, cleaning tools, fixing netting and raised beds and collecting compost.  We will be using the compost to grow our plants this year.

Some Co-Farmers have been very busy potting spring bulbs for people to buy in the farm shop—they look beautiful!

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It’s a good time to make the lambing bays cosy and warm for the arrival of lambs in a few weeks time.

Kelly

 

My Day at the Farm

This morning I arrived at 9:25am.  The first job I did was the chickens.  It was smelly.  We then got the eggs from the nest boxes and then gave them a deep clean like getting rid of the dirty straw.  We put it on the compost heap.  We then got the fresh straw down on the floor and into the nest boxes.  We then had a break about 10:20am.  I had a cup of tea.

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Then in the next session, we carried on with our wood project.  I made book ends using cut out magazine pictures and then put gloss on my bookends.  Then we had lunch at 12:15pm and I had another tea.

This afternoon we did a compost run.  We did two trips there and back from the chickens.  I nearly fell over in the mud patch!

Leon

 

Rural Care, where care for land and people meet.  Rural Care enables people with learning disabilities and/or mental health issues to work on a farm, learn skills, and make friends.  Working on a farm is a great way to keep healthy, and build confidence and self-esteem.

 

 


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Running for Rural Care

Tony H - Rural care

Our very own Tony Hopkins is running the London Marathon this year to raise money for Rural Care. Once we had got over the fact that Tony could actually run and didn’t just stand around drinking tea all day, we thought about how we could help him train. What Tony doesn’t know is that we have a training schedule planned for him. How better to train for a marathon than helping herding sheep. We thought he could start by herding our flock of 200 ewes. Think one man and his dog, without the dog! To finish up his training we thought we could put the pressure on and let the rams do the herding and see how fast he can run! We are here to help in any way we can.

All money raised will help Rural Care in different ways to help in general but there are some specific projects and tools we have in mind.

  • We would like a few new 2-wheeled wheelbarrows, as these enable Co-Farmers with mobility problems to be more independent.
  • We would also like to make some of our animal pens more accessible for wheelchair users.
  • Finally, we have a fund for individuals who we really feel would benefit from what we do. Funding for provisions and services is diminishing year on year. It often hits hardest for those who fall between the cracks or don’t fit into the funding boxes. This fund will enable those individuals to access the farm and all it has to offer.

We are blown away by this amazing gesture and will be with Tony every step of the way through this amazing journey.

Donate at  www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/rural-care

 


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Why Our Work is Important to Us

There is nothing that Rural Care isn’t involved in at Church Farm, we keep ourselves busy with anything from picking flowers for the shop to hanging a new door in the pub. Our days are diverse and filled with purpose, which is how we like them! Some of the roles we embark on at the farm offer us more than you may think and benefit us as much as the farm.

We offer opportunities for a diverse range of individuals, all of whom have their own interests, strengths, skills and abilities. We are able to tailor a day where everyone is involved in their own way.

This newsletter this was published in has been contributed to by Co-Farmer Holly, then folded by some of the students in our group from Greenside school, some of them have been hand delivered by Co-Farmers who like a walk and are learning about being safe in the community.

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Here are how some of our bigger responsibilities on the farm benefit us and the farm as a whole.

Laying hens
The laying hens offer us routine, which is important to some people.  The job is relatively predictable, there are many tasks involved in completing the job, and everyone finds their role. Harley loves to scatter the food. Luke enjoys collecting the eggs.  Daniel likes to get stuck in mucking out and Sean health checks the hens. Each with our own role, we work as a team and there is a sense of satisfaction and achievement at the end of the session. That then leads onto processing the eggs.  Some people like sorting over a chat about what happened on Eastenders. Florence likes to grade the eggs. Matthew is a keen egg boxer.  Many of the eggs you have purchased from the farm might have been boxed by Matthew. There is a wonderful cycle to chickens and eggs.  We all play our part and the result is our lovely fresh, free range eggs for sale in the shop. All of our Co-Farmers in some way have been involved in the journey those eggs have made to get there. Those eggs for sale in the shop offer us independence skills, confidence, social skills, numeracy and writing skills and a sense that we are part of something that people appreciate.

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Sheep
Sheep are wonderful creatures for us to work with, they are relatively safe, very sensory and are a great platform for us to learn about behaviour, body language, spatial awareness, teamwork and communication. Again, as with the hens, there is a cycle to working with sheep. Their cycle is over a year and starts with the rams being put with the ewes (tupping). Throughout the year there are then numerous tasks such as foot trimming, shearing, lambing and worming. These become part of our own cycle. We know it is spring when the lambs come and we know it is summer when we shear. To work with sheep you have to be aware of their signs and signals, what they are telling us. This can teach us a lot about behaviour, observation and team building.

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Allotment
Rural Care has their own allotment garden.  The idea behind the garden was to grow food for the Co-Farmers to cook with. Each spring the Co-Farmers choose what they would like to grow based on what they like to eat. Throughout the spring and summer the Co-Farmers tend to the fruit and veg they have sown. This again offers many different tasks which altogether result in the fabulous produce they harvest at the end of the summer and early autumn.  Then comes my favourite part, the cooking, as we learn how to turn that variety of veg into something yummy. Again there is an annual cycle that is predictable, the tasks change with the seasons and there is a great reward and sense of achievement at harvest time.

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Our work is so important to us. It’s not just about getting a job done it’s about finding out people’s interests, strengths and abilities and matching them to a wide range of tasks that together make up the farming that we do.

Rozelle