Latest News Archive Mulberry Outlet
22 December 2009
Our next batch of pork boxes will be available early in the New Year, to order please return our order form.
A grant from the Kent Downs AONB unit has allowed Mulberry Bags Wye Community Farm to install a solar panel on the barn roof. This means the barn now has lighting to allow the WCF after school club to carry on throughout the winter months – the photo shows the club members making full use of the lights on Monday evening.
The WCF after school club is free of charge to any children in Wye and Brook wishing to attend, and is funded by the WCF membership. For details of how to become a member and support this work, see membership
If you go for a walk to the top of Pickersdane Scrubs – opposite the Devils Kneading Trough Restaurant – you will see that the woodland is now really starting to be opened up as the felling continues. The picture shows our contractors taking a well earned rest this afternoon. This work to clear the Ash and so recreate grassland for biodiversity enhancement is funded by The Sita Trust (www.sitatrust.org.uk).
Thanks to a grant from the Kent Downs AONB unit, we have installed solar panels on the barn. This will provide lighting to allow the after school club to continue throughout the winter months, as well as helping out at lambing time. The photo shows Chris from CPL Energy Systems installing the panels. (www. cplenergysystems.co.uk)
This Autumn WCF took on further grazing land, on the right as you enter Wye over the level crossing. Being on the flood plain this ground is very different from the nature reserve and will provide valuable grazing in dry weather, although the recent torrential rain has led to our sheep having to head for the high ground.
Our cattle are now enjoying supplementary feed on the hill, before being housed in the New Year for calving.
PRODUCED IN KENT “TASTE OF KENT” AWARDS 2009
Please go online today and vote for Wye Farmers Market as best Kent Farmers Market of 2009 at www.producedinkent.co.uk
The recent fine weather has allowed a good start to be made to the Ash felling to be carried out this winter. This work is a part of our SITA Trust funded project, aimed at restoring and improving the grassland on the Wye NNR.
As a part of our Saturday morning work parties, volunteers now have the chance to learn new wool craft skills; spinning, weaving, felt making. The photo shows some of the products made from the wool of our Poll Dorset and Portland sheep.
Also, Lukehurst Farm Meats are now selling WCF beef alongside their own produce. Visit their farm shop at Money Tree Farm, Naccolt, Tn25 5NU, open every Saturday.
A neighbouring farm is producing thatching straw, and our after school club members spent a glorious summers evening gleaning sheaves of corn for our pigs and chickens.
The Wye Community Farm AGM is on 19 September; see Diary for details.
We are pleased to announce that WCF has received a significant funding boost from the SITA Trust. Full details can be found on www.sitatrust.org.uk
An important part of our tenancy of the Wye National Nature Reserve is to maintain the chalk grassland upon which rare and endangered species depend. Last year Natural England cleared a large area of scrub that had developed due to undergrazing, and the photos show our cattle now grazing the regrowth to give the grassland a chance to re-establish.
Our current batch of pigs are ‘growing like weeds’, seen here tucking into outgrade courgettes from Ripple Farm organics.
We have recently established a small flock of Portland Sheep, currently five ewes and their lambs, to run alongside our main flock of Dorset Horn/ Poll Dorset sheep. The Portland is an ancient primitive breed, from which it is believed the Dorset Horn was developed.
Sian and Wye Crown Ava had a very successful time at the Kent County Show, returning with an armful of rosettes. Here they are being judged against all other class winners in the Young Farmers supreme championship on the Sunday.
Amongst our first beef box customers was the Kings Head in Church St, Wye, where it is hoped that WCF produce will become a regular feature on the menu. We were delighted last night when a couple who had just eaten in the restaurant came round to the bar to say how much they had enjoyed their steak. Here are some pictures of a typical beef box contents:
Our ‘young farmers’ had a busy evening helping with the shearing and foot trimming.
Orders are now being taken for WCF beef boxes, for further information please contact us
Some pictures of the WCF cattle and sheep, enjoying the evening sunshine
A grant from the Kent Downs AONB unit has allowed WCF to purchase a charcoal kiln. As with our firewood enterprise, producing charcoal will allow us to add value to timber harvested on the NNR and so create employment and training opportunities. The photos show the kiln being fired for the first time this weekend.
This little piggy went to market…..or, more accurately, to our local, family run abattoir. We have just marketed our first pork, and the positive feedback from customers means that we will now be ordering more weaners (eight week old piglets) from our local British Saddleback breeder.
By working in this way with local farmers and abattoirs, our customers’ money is ploughed back into the local rural economy rather than being lost to distant supermarkets and global corporations.
New life at Easter. Throughout the lambing season, a rota of WCF volunteers have been checking the lambing shed every few hours. The importance of this close attention was demonstrated on Sunday morning, when one of these lambs was found to have made a failed bid to enter the world head first. The correct presentation is front feet and head coming together; with one or both legs back the lamb can get stuck at the shoulders but with the head delivered, with strangulation often ensuing. Swift intervention saw a safe delivery with a twin quickly following, as you can see both are now fine.
As you can see, lambing is now in full swing:
Pictured are Wye Crown Ava and Wye Crown Analese, the two heifer calves born into the WCF herd this spring. Between them is Officer Dibble, who has just arrived to spend the summer in Wye on a ‘busman’s holiday’. We have hired Dibble from the Bridge Homestead herd in Pulborough, from whom we purchased our first British Whites last year.
WCF volunteers recently attended a lambing course, organised by Livestock Health South East and facilitated by Westpoint veterinary group. The photo shows Ian the vet giving instruction in lambing technique with his dummy ewe (patent pending).
Our ewes are now housed ready for lambing to commence on 28 March. Whilst there are arguments in favour of lambing outside, the healthy wildlife population on the Wye NNR means that on balance the lambs should get a better start if inside for their first few days.
WCF have formed a positive partnership with Kent Probation Service, with members of the Community Payback scheme assisting in harvesting timber for our log enterprise.
As you can see, our stock took the recent snowy weather in their stride. The calf is Wye Crown Ava, our new arrival and the first calf to be born into the WCF herd.
12th January 2009
As you can see from the photos, two new enterprises have been introduced in the last few weeks. WCF volunteers have first call on the eggs; to get involved in our work parties on Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons contact us. (Pork to follow!)
Seasons greetings from all at Wye Community Farm, and best wishes for 2009.
WCF have taken on management of a further parcel of the Wye NNR, mainly grazing but also a small area of woodland The photos show our cattle on this new ground (just across the road from the Devils Kneading Trough Restaurant).
These 4 lambs went on their final journey yesterday. We use a local family run abattoir, meaning ‘food miles’ and stress levels are kept to an absolute minimum.
Almost all our lambs are now sold, all to local residents, with just 4 left to slaughter in the New Year. Additionally we have kept 8 ewe lambs, to enter the breeding flock next year.
The search to find buildings to operate from has reached a successful conclusion. We moved in to our new home last weekend; the two photos below show WCF volunteers beginning work tidying the barn, and the view of The Crown from the barn doors.
Derek the Dorset Ram has come to stay with our ewes for a few weeks. All being well, we will see the fruits of Derek’s labours next April.
On the 6th September, Wye Community Farm and Wye Farmers Market worked together to hold a family picnic on top of the Downs.
7 December 2007
30 October 2007
We are delighted to announce that Amanda Cottrell has agreed to act as Patron to the Wye Community Farm initiative. A local resident, Amanda is a former High Sheriff of Kent and has a wealth of experience in working with and supporting community projects in the county.
We spoke about the Wye Community Farm initiative at a national environment conference last weekend. From hearing the evidence put forward by other speakers, it is clear that this project to re-localise our food supply chain is of huge significance in the context of tackling climate change.
One statistic which drives the message home is this: A typical UK family of four will, each year, emit 4.2t of CO2 from their house, 4.4t from their car, and 8t from the production, processing, packaging and distribution of the food they eat. A key objective of the Wye Community Farm will be to increase the availability of local food, so reducing the unsustainable consumption of fossil fuels.
To read more about two of the initiatives featured at the conference, see the attached documents on transition towns and carbon offsetting.
As indicated in the 5 September update, a timely ‘Plan B’ for a Wye Community Farm has been identified. The WCF steering group have agreed in principle to pursue this opportunity, and early details are contained in our update newsletter. More information will be posted here as things progress, and if you have yet to do so please consider pledging your support via the online form
The cows have now gone, replaced by rows of machinery awaiting the dispersal sale on 22 September. For the next 10 years the 650 acres the WCF tendered for will be in continuous arable production, farmed from a distance, with not a soul on the farm from one day to the next. This industrialisation of another small corner of UK agriculture can be seen as ICL’s farewell gift to Wye, societies just reward for demanding ‘cheap’ food, or both.
First the bad news……..
We must report that the Wye Community Farm Limited tender for the tenancy of the Wye College Farm has been unsuccessful.
Some opinion and a look to the future in a minute, but first we should provide a factual report on the timetable of recent events:
Tues 24 July: The WCF tender bid and business plan were submitted to Savills, the land agents acting on behalf of ICL, on tender deadline day. To view the WCF business plan as submitted, click here (To see further related documents, please contact us).
Fri 27 July: Savills wrote to Strutt Parker, the land agents for the WCF, saying our tender bid had not been shortlisted.
Wed 1 August: We e-mailed both ICL and Savills, asking for feedback on why our bid had been unsuccessful. We explained that we would need some level of detail on why the bid had failed, so that we could report back to the 1200+ people who had pledged to buy shares should the tenancy have been secured.
Thu 2 August: We received replies from both ICL and Savills, explaining that ICL did not have sight of the tender bids but instead left it for Savills to draw up a shortlist for interview.
Fri 3 August: We wrote to ICL with a full copy of our tender bid, asking that they study the WCF business plan themselves and reconsider the decision not to shortlist us for interview. We said that if we had no response by 9 August we would take that as final confirmation that our tender bid had been unsuccessful.
Thu 9 August: No response received.
First week of September: ICL/ Savills due to announce the successful tender bid.
Several people have expressed the opinion over the last few months that Imperial College London care nothing for either the history of Wye College or the here and now of Wye village, and that they would treat the Wye Community Farm proposal with at best ambivalence, at worst disdain. Perhaps we must now reluctantly acknowledge that these people were right.
It is a matter of record that over the last 12 months we have written regularly to ICL to keep them informed of our proposals, and have sought on every occasion to build up a constructive relationship and demonstrate the mutual benefits to be had from the Wye Community Farm initiative. We would have always accepted the failure of a tender bid under a competitive process as a fact of life, but to be told that the landlord didn’t even have sight of the business plan, even though they knew that a massive amount of work had been put in by a great many people over a number of months, is not something which can be accepted so lightly.
In the coming weeks, months and years, you will hear ICL make grand statements about their commitment to addressing the key challenges of the day; climate change, sustainable food production and distribution, and so on. They will also, no doubt, pledge their commitment to working constructively with the local community in Wye. These pronouncements will always ring hollow to anyone who understands just how much could have been achieved should the WCF vision for the Wye College Farm have become reality.
Now the good news…..
There are many positives to take from the past few months. The tremendous support for the Wye Community Farm proposal - from people in and around Wye, throughout the UK and world-wide - has shown that there is a real and growing awareness of the need to reconnect with where our food comes from and how it is produced.
The directors and steering group of WCF Limited do not intend to waste the work done, contacts made and lessons learned. Rather, they are actively looking for other opportunities to put in place the initiatives originally envisaged for the Wye College Farm. Indeed, an exciting opportunity has already presented itself and is in the early stages of being pursued.
In the next few days we will be writing to the 1,200+ people who have pledged their support for the WCF initiative, providing the update as set out above. We will also be posting further information on the website, including the accounts for the project.
Please keep an eye on this site for news on future developments, thank you for all your support to date, and please do contact us if you have any comments or queries or wish to get more closely involved.
Whatever the origins of the current Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak, it serves as an important reminder of the risks inherent in the continuing globalisation of the food supply chain. If it is confirmed that the virus did escape from a laboratory, despite the extremely high levels of biosecurity employed at such facilities, then you have to question the wisdom of continuing to import meat from countries where FMD is endemic.
One of the key lessons which should have been learned from the 2001 outbreak – but which has largely gone unheeded – is that relocalising the food supply chain would reduce the spread of disease by cutting livestock movements around the country. Despite the encouraging growth of farmers markets, the underlying trend continues to be for meat sales to be concentrated in the hands of fewer firms, using fewer abattoirs, transporting animals ever further, with consumers being ever more removed from understanding the story behind the food on their plate.
By developing local markets for farm produce, and by explaining the risks and rewards connected to how we feed ourselves, the Wye Community Farm would play an important role in reducing the disease risks facing UK agriculture and where regulations are possibly less stringent than in the UK.
If the experts are right, we can expect extreme weather conditions to become more commonplace due to man-made climate change. With 40% of the lorries on our roads carrying food and the average food item on a supermarket shelf having travelled over 1000 miles, the way we feed ourselves today is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
It will be a key objective of the Wye Community Farm to research and develop local food initiatives, both to allow local residents to reduce their ‘food miles’ and to provide advice and inspiration for communities throughout the UK.
We are pleased to be able to confirm that registration as an Industrial and Provident Society has now been completed. This means that, should the tenancy bid be successful, the sale of shares in the Wye Community Farm Limited (reg no. 30276 R) will be able to commence immediately.
The share issue prospectus is at final draft stage, and will be posted on the website next week (for information only; sale of shares will only be commenced should the tenancy bid be successful).
Recognising this confirmation of legal status, we will increasingly refer to the ‘Wye Community Farm Limited’ rather than the ‘Wye Community Land Trust’, though it will take some time to complete the transfer in terms of publicity material, web address etc.
Further support for the Wye Community Farm initiative, this time from two important local political figures:
This looks a really tremendous project, both for local farm produce and for education and the environment
Lord Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, Chairman of English Heritage and former Leader of Kent County Council
The prospect of a Community Farm at Wye is an exciting one. It would not only ensure the preservation of a wonderful and much loved landscape, it would involve local people in the development of a business which would serve all their interests
Rt Hon Damian Green, MP for Ashford
With the tender deadline for the tenancy of the Wye College Farm being 12.00noon today, we are delighted to be able to confirm that sufficient pledges to buy shares have been received to allow a bid to be submitted.
Many thanks to everyone who has pledged to become a member of the Wye Community Farm, should our tender bid be successful. Support has been received from all corners of the UK and throughout the World; we now have an eclectic postage stamp collection!
Several people have asked if the business plan/ tender bid could be posted on the website. As the selection process is of a competitive nature, the Wye Community Farm steering group do not feel that it would be appropriate to do this at this stage.
Please do consider pledging your support via the on-line form if you have yet to do so. If the Wye Community Farm tender is successful, we will want to hit the ground running and the more members we have the more we can achieve. For an indication of where the priorities for year 1 will lie, visit www.yearoffoodandfarming.org.uk
We continue to receive many messages of support for the educational role envisaged for the Wye Community Farm. Two letters received in today’s post are typical:
The vision of the Wye Community Land trust is to be applauded and supported. The good stewardship of God’s creation is one of the key challenges of this generation for future generations. Children instinctively know how important the issues are, but it takes initiatives like the WCLT to demonstrate this in action. As a learning resource and a model for sustainable communities it is essential for this initiative to succeed.
Mr Rupert Bristow, Director of Education, The Diocese of Canterbury
With Wye’s longstanding proud tradition as a centre of excellence for education and agriculture it seems fitting that the proposed farm offers exciting new opportunities for both. Within our curriculum we constantly strive to use the local environment as a means of delivery. We very much look forward to the farm adding to the quality of our provision.
Mr Kevin Grout, Head teacher, Lady Joanna Thornhill Primary School, Wye.
Just a note on the new picture in the sidebar. The children in the parlour (taken on the farm viewing day) live on a farm in Wye, yet had never seen cows being milked before. This reinforces the crucial role the Wye Community Farm will play, should we secure the tenancy, in hosting visits from thousands of children a year and explaining the connections between the food they eat, countryside management, and wider environmental issues. (In case you are wondering, the school trips will make use of the existing viewing gallery above the dairy; the herdsman may not appreciate having 30 children in the pit!).
An important milestone was reached yesterday. Over 1000 people have now pledged to buy shares in the Wye Community Farm, with those pledges amounting to several thousand shares.
With tendering for the farm being a competitive process, we are unable to state publicly how many shares will need to be placed to secure the tenancy. However, we are well on the way and if the momentum of recent weeks is maintained we will make the necessary target by the tender deadline of 24 July.
Please study the pages, attachments and links on this website to gain an understanding of all the benefits to be had from this initiative, and pledge your support via the on-line form.
The farm viewing took place yesterday, which gave us an opportunity to fine tune our plans on-site with three of our team of technical advisors (land agent, farm budgeting, organic conversion). With the business plan largely complete, we remain on schedule to submit a tender bid by the deadline of 24 July. (Please note that this is 10 days later than we envisaged, meaning our deadline for sufficient share pledges is 20 July, not 9 July as on the flyer recently distributed).
We continue to be overwhelmed by the number of share pledges being made via the on-line form and by post. Many thanks, also, for the numerous messages of support and reminders of why we must pull this off. As one comment in yesterdays post put it:
“I used to teach in several London Boroughs, and the children used to argue with me that milk could not come from cows!”
The tender documents for the Wye College Farm have now been released. For a map of the land that the WCLT plans to submit a tender for, see the flyer currently being distributed.
Further details will be posted here once the steering group have studied the tender pack, but in the meantime please pledge your support via our on-line form today.
"This Wye Community Farm initiative is spot on. A new direction for food and farming is emerging, shaped by the sustainability agenda. In the 21st century, we will need new 'beacon' projects such as this to experiment and inspire better ways of feeding people from the land. This Wye initiative is timely. For it to be community led is wonderful and what better place than a 100 year old experimental farm to signal that new direction?"
Tim Lang, Prof of Food Policy, City University
As we await release of the tender documents, a growing number of people are lending their support to the vision for the Wye Community Farm. Here are just some of the comments received:
“Now, more than ever, we need to reconnect with where our food comes from, with our environment and with each other. The people and past students of Wye are doing this by creating this exciting opportunity for local food, education and low-carbon living.”
- Jonathan Porritt, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission and founder of Forum for the Future
“The Wye Community Farm proposal is very timely. It seems to address what has been an ever widening division between agriculture and the consumer, by involving local people in decisions concerning the management of land, crops and animals. It also presents an opportunity to engage the wider community in an educational forum relating to the issues around sustainable food and farming. Where and how food is produced, crops for food or energy, and environmental management on farms including carbon, water and biodiversity are all major issues in a rapidly changing agriculture. The farm can provide a focus and a facility for consideration of these issues.”
- Professor David Leaver, formerly of Wye College and retiring principal of the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester
“The dramatically changing farming economy means that we need to find new ways of managing land if wildlife is to continue to prosper within traditional landscapes. The Wye Community Farm, bringing together local people, the local landscape and the wildlife it supports, may show how this can be achieved.”
- John Bennett, Chief Executive of Kent Wildlife Trust
In anticipation of tender documents being released in the near future, a letter has been drafted for circulation as soon as the details of the tenancy are confirmed; click here to see the draft.
We are now contactable by e-mail: see contact us
Some important news: It is now confirmed that a tenancy is to be offered on the Wye College Farm during 2007. This is the 'green light' the WCLT steering group have been waiting for, allowing us to take the next steps towards achieving the vision set out for the farm. Legal incorporation as an Industrial and Provident Society is in the process of being completed, and a prospectus setting out share and other investment opportunities is being drafted.
The prospectus will be sent out during June to everyone who has returned the public consultation form. Hundreds of people have already expressed their support in this way, but we need more. If you are considering becoming a part of this exciting initiative, now is the time to return your form.
Saturdays public meeting was an outstanding success. 270 people attended throughout the day, to hear about progress to date and to offer their thoughts through workshops and one-to-one discussion with steering group members. Tom Oliver, Head of Rural Policy for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, spoke of the National and European significance of the WCLT in terms of identifying a viable way forward for farms unable to compete - due to environmental, social and legislative constraints - in the global marketplace. Further details and photos of the event can be viewed by clicking here.
The Wye College Farm (Dairy Unit) 21 April 2007
Whilst awaiting further news on the possibility of a tenancy being offered on the college farm, the WCLT Steering Group continues its work to have everything in place to submit a successful bid. Current activity includes:
Thanks to administrative support from CPRE Kent, the public consultation form can now be returned electronically. Please, however, send any donations by post, as we are not yet set up to receive them electronically.
Please note also that we are now contactable by phone/fax; see contact us.
We continue to be delighted by the level of support received via the consultation forms; from former Wye college staff and students, from local residents, and from many others who support the vision of the WCLT. We set a new distance record today with a form back from Shanghai; can anyone out there better this?! Please do keep those forms coming, and tell your friends about the WCLT.
Many thanks for all the messages of support coming in with the public consultation forms. Here's an extract from just one, which gives a flavour of the feedback we are getting.
I am currently hosting occasional visits from schools. The need is huge, and there seem to be so many kids and so few farms willing to do something. I also believe there should be far more encouragement and incentives for local food. The recent Bernard Mathews affair (4 miles from here!) has demonstrated yet again that the best biosecurity is locally produced food, consumed locally. Richard Symes, Halesworth, Suffolk (Wye 1973)
Leaflets are currently being delivered around Wye and Brook, outlining the WCLT and including the public consultation form.
Returns from the Agricola Club mailout are now coming in thick and fast, from Cornwall to Orkney and all points in-between.
If you are about to return your form, please complete the e-mail address neatly; an ineligible letter or two in a postal address isn't important, but with e-mail it makes you incommunicado.
Many people returning the Agricola feedback form have indicated that they are not on-line; not surprising when you consider that some respondents were at Wye over 50 years ago when the Internet would have been in the realms of science fiction. So, if you are not reading this now (!), don’t worry, as we will write again by post should the next key stage of this project - a share issue - be reached.
Many thanks for all the donations coming in with the forms. These will allow us to further improve our communications and participatory process, as well as to employ the specialist support needed should a tenancy be offered.
Some important points are being raised via the consultation process. Please keep an eye on the FaQ's and we will seek to address your queries as they arise; scroll to the bottom for most recent additions.
Public consultation update:
The Agricola Club has kindly provided WCLT with envelope labels for their 3,000 UK-based members. This will allow us to inform former Wye College staff and students of our proposals, bringing this website to their attention and providing them with a hard copy of the public consultation form
Wye Parish Council has shown their support by providing funding for a leaflet version of this website, to be delivered to every house in Wye in the next couple of weeks.
If you haven't yet returned your public consultation form, please do so in order to give the steering group the necessary impetus and guidance in pursuing this initiative.
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