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July 24th Npower Team Day

The Team successfully refurbished our original duckpond in spite of an overnight setback and a very very hot day with temperatures of around 30c in the full sun. We had waited months for the pond area to dry out completely so it could be worked on, and dry as a bone it was until the night before when the hosepipe got accidentally left on and when the team arrived it was full to the brim again ! Happily a very positive attitude, and a ten person group of bailing out buckets saved the day.

The new rigid pond was dug into position and jumbo bags of stone and soil barrowed many yards and infilled around the edge. Some of the Team also completed some very competent slabbing in front of a Goose- house. Much water and many cold drinks were consumed to keep up worker hydration.
All in all this was a super day with a long awaited improvement taking place. Many thanks to Team leader James, plus Tim, Manveer, Pardeep, Gavin, Cheryl, Vicki, Latisha, Steve and Nicola.

This was a successful day, despite the heavy rains in the week leading up to the event, which caused water-logging to return to the low areas of the site. Our tent supplier's van got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled free, and some areas were a little wet underfoot for the visitors, but overall this was compensated for by a warm, dry sunny day on the day itself. Following the Open Day we enjoyed two weeks of hot dry weather, so all is now well again leading up to the Summer Holiday season.
The Day went well with just under 1,000 visitors who enjoyed the entertainment: Loony Lenny, The Animal Man, Kris Krendo's Punch and Judy Show and also his magic Show, Woody's One Man Band, Andy's Childrens' Music Workshop and eleven stalls providing plants, tombola ,bric a brac, general goods, petfood supplies,bazaar goods, Reiki, etc. This year our resident beekeepers joined forces with the Birmingham Beekeepers Association Branch to provide an observation display hive with a Queen bee and all her workers which provided much interest. It was unfortunate that our supplier was unable to bring the advertised Bouncy Castle, which had been accidentally damaged by another hirer just the day before (apologies to those expecting this attraction but it could not be helped) As always, the home made cakes, snacks and liquid refreshments in the farm classroom unit were well received.
A grateful thanks to all those in the local community who supported the Day, both as stallholders and visitors, and to the entertainers. A particular thanks to Dean, our marquee supplier who always works hard to erect the tentage from 0730 hours on the day and then dismantle and pack away at the end, with the unexpected complication of the difficult ground conditions this year.
Photographs to follow; meanwhile photographs of the Open Day are already available on our Facebook page -

Another successful nPower team helped us with their paintbrushes and enthusiasm by wood-treating the Project's Hay and straw store, the main Hen House, and the Bazaar unit, and also worked hard weeding and tidying up borders and pathways ready for our Open Day ten days later. The weather, which was indifferent very early in the day and looked like it might rain (and which always makes wood treatment difficult) decided to be kind to us and turned out dry after all.

The members of the Team, again from the Dudley Offices, enjoyed their day in the open air and we now have three smartly repainted buildings heading into the Summer season and a much tidier site overall. Many thanks to all eleven employees concerned.

A group of keen employees from Npower did us proud one day in March when they repainted the whole of the interior of the volunteer and staff Messroom. This was much needed, and has been admired by all those who use the room - light airy and clean again! As a bonus the lobby area of the Farm's Classroom Unit also enjoyed a decorating makeover.

A warm thank you to all those who took part and for the really generous cash donation from them and other colleagues at the Dudley Base which will assist our animal feeding costs.


We were pleased to host the above successful event which was staged on our behalf by young people participating in The Challenge. The freshly crushed apple juice, from fruit picked minutes before in our own Orchard, together with home made cakes and hot drinks, proved very popular with the many visitors. Many thanks from the Trustees of the Farm to the young people who contributed to this event and raised valuable funds for our Charity.

Thirteen keen employees from the Dudley Office attended a Team Work Day to clear overgrowth from the paths in the Wildlife Area which had reached jungle-like proportions after the wet Winter and Spring. Given our usual cool showery weather, this might not have been too onerous, but in the event a hot day with temperatures of around 28 degrees, this was a real challenge! But what a successful day it was, with beds in the orchard also being cleared and weeded. Plenty of cold drinks and a good lunch break kept the Team the right side of exhaustion, and the targets set for the day were exceeded. Many thanks to everyone involved.

We were fortunate again this year, with a fine, dry and sunny day which was very well attended by 1,288 people who enjoyed a range of entertainment and a variety of stalls and other attractions including: Loony Lenny(Fun and Magic) Kris Krendo (Punch & Judy and also a Magic show), Andy and his Kiddies Musical Workshop, the Animal Man with a range of snakes, lizards, spiders and mammals, and new for this year Woody's One Man Band who mingled throughout the day with our happy visitors.

Stalls included our resident Beekeepers, Bric a Brac, Fancy Goods, Big Prize Tombola, Teddy Bear Tombola, Face Painting and Sparkly Tattoos, our resident Farm Bazaar, Kate's Reiki, super Plant Stall and other stalls by Rebecca, Jenny and Denise, Winterbourne Botanical Garden (B'ham University) and Fircroft College. The Bouncy Castle was in constant use throughout the day. The Refreshment facility provided the ever popular range of home made cakes, sponges, and snacks together with refreshing hot and cold drinks, and Simon's Ice Cream was also on hand.

The Charity raised much needed funds, and the visitors enjoyed a day out to remember.
Thanks go to all Contributors , Friends, Volunteers and Trustees,who came together to make the Day possible

We are pleased to report that Ernst & Young LLP have decided that following their sponsorship in 2010 and 2011 they will sponsor us for a third full year from January until December 2012. Our Trustees and grateful for this continuing partnership which achieves active on-site Team Days for their employees as well as valuable financial assistance and on-going cooperation. Here are some team photos from the current 2012 Team Days:

...for more see the E & Young 3 year Photo-Gallery


The first was on 26th March when five employees created and planted a new feature shrub area in the Orchard to screen the beehives and also refurbished and tidied two other beds. They did a wonderful job bearing in mind the very wet Spring we had and the fact that part of the work area was seriously waterlogged

The second and third were on 6th and 13th May when larger teams of ten employees carried out some valuable work in another part of the Orchard to create paved and loose stone pathways around three raised beds which had been created by Volunteers on the CNSW Programme. This was really heavy work involving transporting a succession of barrowloads of sand and stone chippings from hundreds of yards away, and laying slabs. None of the Team had laid slabs before, and some were strangers to pushing a barrow, but when they went home that night most of them were experts!

The fourth Team visited on 30th July and completed the slabbing and stone chipping to great effect, after some running repairs to the wooden edges of one of the beds, and also weeded and refurbished the plantings. Not one on the Team had slabbed before, yet one run of paving has all the hallmarks of a billiard table. Well done Team!

On 19th August a fifth Team carried out a variety of tasks including weeding and edging the new bed created by the first Team back in March, topping up stone chipping on the new paths after initial sinkage, and cutting their way through into our wildlife area where the Spring rains had managed to create an almost inpenetrable jungle of growth of brambles and long grass to mask the main entrance. However, the crowning job of the day was the creation of a double dug bed (with much sweat and effort) and the planting of a Walnut Tree to permanently commemorate Ernst & Young's support dur ing the 2010 year. An adjacent picture shows the proud team at the end of their day's labours.

Two of the Urban Farm Trustees were invited to attend the Ernst & Young 'Town Hall Day' along with other organisations in partnership, on 30th April to display a stall showing the Charities activities. This was an enjoyable early morning activity, complicated only by the fact that it was held in the Holte Suite at the Aston Villa Ground and one of the Trustees had to wear a bag over his head in case any fellow Bluenose spotted him!
In addition, employes of Ernst and Young have been busy collecting and donating monies via 'dress down days' and other Head office initiatives and activities, and E & Y as a Company have already made a generous matched donation. Funding also met the full £850 cost of staging the Open Day.

This year the Open Day (our 21st) was again sponsored by Ernst & Young and went ahead in excellent dry, sunny weather, a welcome relief after the total washout last year. It was a special event this year marking twenty five years of our Community Farm operating on site at Woodgate.
Visitors came steadily throughout the five hours of the fun day, and enjoyed family entertainment including the ever popular Loony Lenny with his zany fun and magic, two Punch and Judy Shows by Kris Krendo, Andy and his musical workshop for youngsters to join in with a range of simple musical instruments, and a musical interlude provided by our guest Accordianists . As always the Bouncy Castle was enjoyed by dozens of children all day.

There was a range of stalls including Tombola (top prize a month's free subscription courtesy of Harborne Pool & Fitness Centre), Denise's Community Stall, John Sturman Ltd with a selection of poultry and livestock feeds, our Honorary Beekeepers Rob and Dave with information and activities, Bournville Garden Centre (info and plants), Winterbourne House and Botanical Garden (B'ham University), Linda's & George's Stall, Hearts & Crafts, our own Plant Stall, the Farm Bazaar and a Reiki facility to relax the tensions.

We were also pleased to host Bristol Street Motors who brought along Ford's three new environmentally friendly small cars. As always we were grateful to the Wyre Forest Ambulance Service who provided not only full emergency cover, but also displayed their vehicle and equipment. Our well regarded Refreshment facility did a roaring trade with a selection of hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, sponges and all manner of fancy home made cakes and biscuits.

It was a satisfying day, and we hope that all our visitors enjoyed it as much as we did .Grateful thanks to our small army of volunteers who assisted in delivering another special day for our local community. We have already booked some new attractions for next year's Open Day which is on the 9th June 2013.

The weather was not kind to us for the Open Day and true to the forecast we had rain from 8am and torrential rain from about 11 am when the event would have started, until early evening. We had to cut our losses on marquee costs and the cost of entertainers, and to save our army of stallholders from a wasted journey , so a decision had to be made early in the day, at about 7.55 am in fact, to cancel, It turned out to be the correct call.

It is the first time in 20 years of Open Days we have cancelled in this way, so guess that we have done pretty well. Many callers have asked if we are going to re-schedule it this year, but organisation of such an event takes months, and we are actually starting to book entertainers and marquees for next year now ! Unfortunately the answer is no, although we might run a one off event in September on a much smaller scale based on a Halloween sale. If we do, this will be advertised on-line.
Meanwhile a big thank you to all our volunteers, stallholders and suppliers who had set the time aside and prepared to support this years Open Day , and to those visitors who would otherwise have attended.
On a more positive note, next years Open Day is on Sunday 10th. June 2012. And it had better be fine!!