Events cancelled but shop business soars at Market Drayton farm in lock down

By Rob Smith | Market Drayton | North Shropshire entertainment | Published:

Market Drayton's community-owned farm has had mixed blessings during the ongoing pandemic, with many of its popular events cancelled but with its farm shop "booming", according to its head custodian.

Pictured with the new milk vending machine are, from left: Ben Hollins, Charlotte Hollins with daughter Katherine, Johnny and Sam Taylor from Taylor's Organic Dairy

Fordhall Organic Farm normally runs educational projects for young people who struggle in a school setting, fun activities for families, and a care farm letting adults with learning disabilities join in farming activities. But all of it has been cancelled because of Government restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The farm's popular café and meeting rooms are also closed.

Charlotte Hollins runs the Fordhall Community Land Initiative, which owns the farm on behalf of its thousands of shareholders around the world.

She said that despite the necessary cancellation of many events, business has been "booming" at the farm shop which sells fresh meat from the farm, vegetables, eggs, bread, frozen meals and more.

The farm shop is open as usual from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9.30am to 5pm, and on Sundays from 10am to 4pm.

In light of the Government advice on social distancing, the shop is only taking card payments and just a few customers are allowed in at any one time.


The shop is also available online at Takeaway Sunday lunches are still available from the café.


Charlotte's brother, farmer Ben, has also been busy.

She said: "Ben has been able to keep well-stocked up by using local trusted suppliers and we have set up an organic milk vending machine by Shropshire dairy Taylor's Organic Dairy – only to find out we are actually distantly related!

"They are Johnny and his dad Sam Taylor and they are our cousins (our parents were brother and sister).

"Of course work on the farm never stops, but luckily being livestock, we don't have the huge problems that many of the growers are having with a lack of a labour force."


Charlotte and Ben posted a message to supporters on their website, saying: "We hope that you have time to spend with close family, that you can take joy in the blue sky and that each morning you can at least open your window and listen to the birds' dawn chorus.

"We live in the hope that this terrible situation brings a new awareness and encourages more to shop local, support the little man, and appreciate all the good things in life which are free.

"We look forward to celebrating with you at the other end."

Rob Smith

By Rob Smith

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based at Ketley in Telford.


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