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Friday October 14th 2016

A team of nearly twenty enthusiastic employees from the Royal Bank of Scotland visited us from the Birmingham Office to assist us with a Clearing up for Winter day at the Farm. They were all from the mortgage section and very much enjoyed their escape into the open air away from their computers. As always these events are very dependant upon dry weather, and the heavens were kind.

The Team completely re-creosoted the farm administrative and storage buildings in the Farmyard area as well as weeding the yard itself; tackled the perennial weeds and refurbished the garden beds in the Orchard,and made a successful foray into the depths of the Wildlife Area where they cleared pathways and cut down overgrowth, with one keen member creating several yards of border fencing from available coppiced branch growth.
A good day was had by all, and our Charitable project enjoyed some essential maintenance. Many thanks to: Steve (Team Leader) and all the Team!

The special visit from The Animal Man was quite remarkable with an estimated 750 or more adults and children flooding through the gates in a frantic three hour period. Before we opened, the queue was along the path right into the car park. Unusual livestock on display included exotic mammals, spiders, and reptiles.
In addition we were pleased to enjoy the support of the Trekking Centre, with the afternoon enhanced by the provision of supervised Pony Rides which were very well received by the visitors.
Overall the income generated assisted greatly in making up for the lack of income on our Open Day.
Next year's Open Day is on Sunday 11th June, when The Animal Man is also next due to appear.

On Thursday …we had an important set of visitors at the Farm, namely a work team from Nielsen, the international marketing company. A group of fourteen staff of the Company from Birmingham and other parts of the UK joined together at the Urban Farm to assist in a general ‘clean up’ in preparation for our Open Day on Sunday 12th June 2106.

The Company’s slogan for community input via team days is to “make a difference” and they certainly achieved that. The weather was fine, the team were enthusiastic, and the planned work was fully achieved. Buildings and animal sheds were given a good coat of wood treatment, the farmyard was cleared of weeds and overgrowth, and our picnic tables were given a smart lick of preservative leaving them looking like new, By late afternoon a very big difference had occurred!

Many thanks to the Team, namely: Gemma, Anna, Frazer, Paul (Team leader), Matt W., Matt H., Kate, Helen, Derek, Nick, Marika, Jonathan, Robert and Mir.
Pictures of the Team in action………..

Sunday 5th June was dry, hot and sunny. However all the finger crossing in the world did not work for this to continue because our Open Day on the 12th was far from dry. It rained on and off all day, although it stopped for about 90 minutes around midday. The effect on visitors was understandably quite dramatic and the total was in the region of 400 adults and children. On a sunny day we have recorded as many as 2,250 so quite a difference. However many thanks indeed for the support given by those who attended, braved the elements, and enjoyed the full programme of events ,stalls and activities which went ahead as planned – a little damp- but enthusiastically. One example was The Birmingham Astronomical Society Stall members who all showed great enthusiasm and fortitude with their special telescopes brought for visitors to study the Sun, which showed itself for just about three minutes all day ! (One of the pictures below captures those precious seconds) Many thanks to each and every one of our supporters, volunteers and stallholders for their good humour and hard work.

Financially, we were concerned that an event which is staged for the local community but which also aims to raise funds to feed our animals and assist in keeping the Charity solvent, was going to actually show a loss – which is not quite the idea ! However, at the end of the day the balance sheet showed that the cost of staging the Day (tentage, entertainers,refreshments etc) was £1,000.00 whilst the takings amounted to £1077.76 (i.e. just £77.76 in the black). If we had been able to find a Sponsor then the figure would have looked a lot better and we will look hard for someone to Sponsor the Open Day next year to cover the costs elements (Our Treasurer just whispered to me….”any offers ?”) We would especially like to thank a number of people who assisted us to keep on the right side of financial loss by offering some reduction on their usual charges or making a ‘wet weather’ donation.

e took charge of our new flock of eight sheep at the end of November. Given the ground conditions this was an accomplishment in itself because it was impossible to drive a vehicle across the waterlogged ground to the sheep paddock at the far side of the Farm. Anyone watching would have been greatly entertained by the sight of the sheep being transported one at a time on a small pull truck, held down to stop them jumping off. Halfway through the process a wheel literally came of the truck and we all collapsed into the mud ! Having got them successfully into their new field and safely tucked up in their sheep shed, we all retired to relieve our aching muscles. As any City farmer will know, manhandling a sheep who does not wish to cooperate , is not for the faint-hearted. Given that early trauma, however, the sheep very quickly settled into their new home, and are now calm and happy and tucking away at their hay rations.
The sheep are a mixture of pure breed and hybrid. There are two pure breed Badger Faced, two Badger Faced x Manx Loughtan, two pure breed Wiltshire Horn, two Black Welsh Mountain X and two Badger Faced X Herdwick X Manx double crossed. This is quite a mixture, but gives a lovely colour range and effect when viewed . They were purchased from a smallholder in Inkberrow in Worcestershire.
Go back to the Home Page and click onto our FACEBOOK page for a picture

A small but expert group of staff from Wagstaff Interiors Group (based at Honiley in Warwickshire) carried out click for larger image some sorely needed repairs to our Goat, Cow and Sheep sheds on Monday 2nd November 2015. What they packed into half a day was amazing, and all of the sheds enjoyed significant refurbishment with new heavy duty cladding sheets to several sides of the buildings.

No doubt the very early start assisted, together with some careful planning before the day itself, with everyone knowing their part in the logistics of the task. As the work progressed, there was much interest from the livestock themselves, particularly by the Goats, who always manage to stand and supervise very effectively on occasion like this. So….. many thanks to Wagstaff Interiors as a firm, and especially to the employees concerned for their hard work, good company and commitment: Ken, Matt and Daniel.

Allianz is an Insurance and Asset Management Company which operates all over Europe from an H.Q in Munich. When the Company arranged for a Team Day with us on Tuesday. September 29th they not only facilitated two very useful tasks at the Urban Farm, but also showed their keenness to involve as wide a range of their employees in the UK as possible with twelve participants travelling from far and wide in both England and Scotland..

A very competent Team they were too carrying out two discrete tasks with one contingent re-decorating the inside of our Classroom/Party/Meetings Unit and another slabbing a some new areas within one of the paddocks to support new poultry housing. A lot of innate DIY skills were shown because there was hardly a splash of emulsion on the Unit floor – and the perfect plumb level of the slabbing would do a professional landscaper credit . Just shows what a day out from in front of the Computer can bring out ! The initiative was also supported with expenses/donation to our Charity which is much appreciated.

So, very many thanks for a sterling effort by everyone working so hard that day , namely: Niki and Matt from Manchester, Gillian from Glasgow, Sarah and Nick from Surrey, Gareth and Nicola from Bristol, Alex and Sarah from Milton Keynes, Emily from Guildford, Neil from Carlisle, and another Nick from “just up the road ” in Rugby! Also thanks to Allianz (GB) for the overall support.

The Challenge Network is a national charity which exists to connect and inspire people of all ages to strengthen their communities within a variety of programmes , and part of the National Citizens Service section is organised specifically to bring together young people from different backgrounds to bond them and inspire them to take on a more active role in their communities. Each Summer groups of youngsters ages around 16/17 years of age are involved in expeditions, fundraising, community work and other activities which seek to fulfill this. For many years now we have been pleased to cooperate with the ‘Team Day in the Community’ aspect of this annual programme and this year has been as successful as before.

The 2015 team of six young people and their mentor carried out tasks at the Urban Farm on Sunday…….including wheelbarrowing a large quantity of pebbles from a central point to complete a drainage surround area to one of our duck ponds, and also some much needed weeding in the main farmyard area. It was a fine dry day, and the Team not

only successfully completed the tasks set out for them but seemed to enjoy themselves in the process. They worked hard, worked well, and there were some laughs along the way.
Very many thanks to each one of them. A photo-shoot of the day is below

One of Santander’s aims is to “Making a Difference in the Community” and they certainly did that during their recent visit to the Farm.
A group of twelve employees from one of their financing sections carried out woodland clearance in our wildlife area, and plant- bed weeding in the orchard on what happily turned out to be a fine dry day. Excellent results were achieved, and pathways restored which had grown over quite literally like a tropical jungle.



The Team were drawn from all over Central England and Wales for the day, one travelling from Cardiff in the west and another from the East Midlands in addition to more local employees from the Birmingham Conurbation. It was a sterling effort which has enhanced the Project and is very much appreciated by our Trustees.

So here are many thanks from all our Trustees, visitors and users to: Vijay, Mike, Zena, Rob, Adrian, Kevin, Tony, Steve, Ian, Jen, Bill, and Nigel

Well done Team Santander!


Given that June was a cold and sometimes wet month, we were again fortunate to enjoy good weather for this, our 26th annual Open Day. All week the forecast had been for a cold wind and heavily overcast skies, but the day dawned sunny, dry and quite fair, and remained so all day.We were very grateful!

The entertainment was continuous all day, starting with a two hour session from The Animal Man, when dozens of youngsters got up close and friendly with a range of exotic animals and reptiles , followed by Loony Lenny who provided his unique brand of fun, magic and mayhem, and then Kris Krendo staged his super Punch & Judy Show, followed later with his own comedy and magic show. Andy Casserley was on hand all day in his gazebo stacked with musical instruments (woodwind, string and percussion) to introduce and encourage countless youngsters to create musical sounds for themselves.

There was a greater range of stalls and sideshows this year, and we newly welcomed the Lapal Pioneers who staged a sweet tombola and a catch a duck stall, and The Stonehouse Gang who set up a recruiting and information table. Other stalls included our own Super Tombola with top prizes including a meal out for two, a teddy bear tombola, two bric a brac stalls, John Sturmans Seed and Pet Supplies (Blackheath), Pink Faces (face painting), a Beekeepers stall and demonstration , Reike Master - Kate Jones, Urban Farm plant stall,and new this year - Ken and his hanging basket demonstrations . Ongoing amusement for the kiddies was also available in the form of a Bouncy castle, and there was an all-day ice cream van , together with our own ever popular Refreshment Rooms in the Unit serving home made cakes, sandwiches, crisps and other snacks, and both hot and cold drinks. Two of our Trustees also set up a stall to encourage applications from Volunteers to the Urban Farm Project. Information leaflets were available for Winterbourne House & Garden and also Fircroft College.

We logged well in excess of 1,000 visitors overall who enjoyed the attractions and entertainment on offer. On a rather sad farewell note, Loony Lenny (aka John Price) retires in July and will not be performing again. He has loyally supported our Open Day for almost twenty years and made hundreds of our young visitors laugh over that time. We shall miss his super act and good company, but wish him well in his retirement. Thanks John ! Woody's One Man Band sent apologies because he was unable to attend due to illness, and we wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him next year. Last but by no means least many many thanks to all those who contributed to the staging and content of this Open Day which was financially one of our most successful in terms of our much needed funds. A super effort!