Looking Back on 2017 at Incredible Farm
2017 at Incredible Farm has been an amazing year of transformation. Alongside doing all our normal things, we built a completely new farm, moved in to it, and got crops growing, cows milking, hens laying, students learning; seamlessly, without any fuss, hardly any money and almost no broken hearts!
The new farm is much bigger, in an iconic location and just beautiful. It is such a great place to be to breath the air, to work, to paint, sing, dance or cuddle a cow.
Our team this year has included over 30 WWOOFers from as far afield as China, Israel and Costa Rica with an average stay of a month. They have taken on huge responsibilities, pretty much running the old farm for extended periods while both Nick and Mike were busy or away, including Mike having to support his sister thru critical surgery in USA. Many local volunteers have been involved in large and small roles, from growing veg, to just talking about the farm, buying produce and fruit trees; it all helps.
Community Foundation for Calderdale and Reaps Moss community fund supported us with £4500 that bought the materials to build a massive 15 x 20m landscape-hugging greenhouse at Heeley Clough, while the Peoples’ Postcode lottery awarded £2000 for materials for the Hay barn/activity room, and our amazing landlord David Chaytor gave us a 10 year lease for £10 which he refuses to take, and £10,000!
We sold around £5000 worth of produce mostly through the wonderful Saker shop, the Golden Lion pub and Riggs farm shop.
Rhubarb and Custard both had beautiful Jersey/Dexter girl calves, courtesy of Janet at Mellings farm’s bull Brioche, who only escaped and trotted off towards the town centre once! Matt from the Site Pizza place transformed himself back into a cow poke to do the necessary de-horning stuff for us.
Incredible Farm has been a partner in the bid to turn Tod college into TLC and Custard the cow took a starring role in the promotional movie and crowd funder which has funded the business planning. The farm has teamed up with Lancaster uni and the N8 uni group and expects to host several research projects in 2018.
We hosted two regular schools visits a week throughout the year, and junior farmers club on Saturdays. The children were involved in building the new farm, caring for the chickens and cows, and planting the first new beds of veg in the new greenhouse. Mike did a weekly outreach session at Ferney Lee school and has re-built their polytunnel, cleared and re-planted their derelict tennis court beds and set up wildlife habitats with help from the children.
Clients from Chatterton Hay visited 3 times and Helena and Elle returned the favour with a series of outreach visits helping them to get their walled garden back in use and workshops on using the produce. They also ran a workshop on community growing at Trafford Hall, the national centre for Social housing, with Lancaster West estate residents affected by the Grenville tower tragedy.
Our opening event at Heeley Clough was attended by approx 200 people. Arif who has been helping us build the new farm all summer turned himself into a Kashmiri Chef for the day.
Paolo is planning a micro hydro power scheme, to supplement our 9 solar panels in winter and make us yet more independent of polluting power generation. Robinwood Centre and a raffle have primed the pump.
Lorna built us a new website and Cate helped us with grant applications.
Amongst numerous failed grant applications the only one which went to a public vote this November we completely forgot to promote, yet we won £4000 from Tesco, a Bag of Help Indeed!
We changed our legal structure to become a community benefit society, membership open to all.
Company secretary Robin has found time, when not writing business plans for Tod college, to supervise accountancy, company admin and generally being a steadying presence amongst all the changes.
All this achieved by an almost self-financing organisation, with only one employee, Mike and Julie, our part time book keeper.
So thank you for all your support this year, and a very Happy New year to you all and let’s look forward to an even more amazing 2018!!