Fordhall Young Farmers Appeal for Help in Pioneering Community Scheme

From: Fordhall Community Land Initiative Ltd
Published: Mon Jun 19 2006

It isn’t all doom and gloom in UK farming? The next generation of farmers may be leaving by the tractor load – but, emerging from the darkness are two enthusiastic and passionate farmers whose mean age is a mere 23. Charlotte and Ben Hollins of Fordhall Farm in Shropshire are fighting with all the energy and determination in the world to stay farming.

They have fought off eviction from big business giant Muller and created one of the first structures in England to place farmland into community ownership.

Amazingly, in recent months, the young pair have gathered hundreds of volunteers, have over 3,000 share holders and have raised an amazing £565,000 – but they still another £235,000 by July 1st if their recovery plan is to succeed!

They have a passionate belief that there is a future for farming in this country and that this future involves more sensitive management and public involvement than in the past.

The Hollins family have tenanted and tendered the land at Fordhall for over three generations; their late father, Arthur Hollins is one of our countries oldest organic farmers and Fordhall has been chemical free for over 65 years. However, recently the family were faced with eviction when pressures from sprawling development encouraged the landowners to want to sell up. International food giant Muller wanted to supplement its profits by selling the land.

This new charitable society will own the farm and lease the land back to the Hollins family. The Society is there for the benefit of the community as well as the farmer and will provide an educational and social resource - and also demonstrate that small-scale farming connected to the local community is a viable way of life for generations to come.

The Fordhall Community Land Initiative needs to raise £800,000 by July 1st this year if they are to save the Farm on the outskirts of Market Drayton in Shropshire from development. To do this they are selling non profit making lifetime shares in the farm at only £50 each, and guarantee that if the money is not raised in time, the investment will be returned.

Charlotte Hollins, says
"As young people entering the farming industry, it is impossible for us to buy the farm and make enough to pay for ourselves as well as a mortgage. What we do have is a passion to increase awareness of food and farming. We believe that farming must work in balance with nature to be sustainable, but also that it should have community involvement and understanding, this is why we have created the Fordhall Community Land Initiative.

When we started this project we were completely unaware of the national support for farming in this country and the interest that everyone has in how their food is produced. Fordhall has an immense amount of history and wildlife and we are excited that this can be shared with everyone else"

This Initiative is both inspirational and exciting, it is allowing all of us as a Nation to make a statement about food, farming and the landscape; we are saying that we do care, and that more importantly we do want to be part of it."

More information on owning your own piece of the English countryside or about the Fordhall Community Land Initiative in general can be found at or by calling 01630 638696.


CONTACT: Charlotte Hollins (Project Leader)
01630 638696
07989 820942
The Fordhall Community Land Initiative Ltd.
Fordhall Farm
Market Drayton
Shropshire, TF9 3PS
Registered in England and Wales as an Industrial and Provident Society. Reg No. 30030R
Telephone : +44(0)1630 63 86 96

PHOTO: A selection available from the farm for press use.

Spokespeople for the Fordhall Community Land Initiative:

Zac Goldsmith. Will talk about the future of small family farms and their connections to sustainability.

Jimmy Docherty (From the TV series, Jimmy’s Farm). Can talk about his experiences in farming, and the barriers he has come up against when trying to enter the industry.
Email of his agent

Professor David Bellamy. He is happy to talk about farming sustainably with nature

Nicola Yates, Chief Executive, North Shropshire District Council. Can talk about the benefits of the community owned farm to the economy, to the future of farmers in the industry, and tourism of the local area.
01939 238469

Gary Robinson, Chief Executive, Countryside Foundation for Education. Can talk about the educational benefits of the farm and the potential for the future.
07711 069 092 and his email is

Tom Oliver, Head of Rural Policy at the Campaign to Protect of Rural England. Will talk about the loss of our English countryside and the benefits of Fordhall as a future asset. His email is

Additional Quotes:

"Projects of this kind are absolutely critical not just in themselves, but because of the inspiration they give others to think differently about their own relationship with the land and the environment. Its just fantastic to see Charlotte and Ben Hollins taking on that kind of challenge" Jonathan Porritt, Founding Director of Forum of the Future.

"As the one time president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) I support with all my heart the Fordhall Community Land Initiative and wish them every success for the future. Fordhall is truly an inspritational place, so full of life and hope" Prunella Scales.

"Much or the beauty of the English Countryside lay in its countless farms like Fordhall: now that so many have gone, it is vital to ensure a future for those that remain such as Fordhall Farm" National Office, CPRE.

"This Initiative can go a long way in reducing the huge disconnect between people and their natural environment" Vicki Herd, Press Officer, Friends of the Earth.

"There has already been one lost generation of the 1980s and we don’t want to lose this one. Ben and Charlotte are a perfect example of how young people’s passion can make a difference. They are an inspirational example to us all" Patrick Holden, Director, Soil Association.
Company: Fordhall Community Land Initiative Ltd
Contact Name: Ben and Charlotte Hollins
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 07989 820942

Visit website »