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Comment - Local Stuff

Forty Hall Farm by Kate McGeevor

Farm manager and EGP member Kate McGeevor writes: The farm is a 160 acre organic farm, situated next to Forty Hall. It is run by Capel Manor College, which is committed to making the Farm a showcase for sustainable local food production.

There is already much to celebrate at the Farm. Since 2009, it has been home to the Forty Hall Community Vineyard, an awardwinning social enterprise that is run almost entirely by volunteers. It is funded by the National Lottery and teaches volunteers about wine-growing and horticulture. At full production, the Vineyard will be producing 13,000 bottles of wine per year and we are on track for our first harvest in 2013.

As well as working with regular volunteers, over 180 vulnerable adults from deprived communities in Enfield (including some with mental health support needs and adults with learning difficulties) have been involved in the vineyard through our horticultural therapy project 'Fine @ the Vine Project'.

More recently, the Farm has launched a new orchard project, aimed at re-establishing the Forty Hall Estate's historic orchard. The project, which has been led by local volunteers, has led to the planting of over 140 heritage fruit trees. The Orchard Group has won four grants to carry out its work and members regularly attend local events to promote the project. The members intend to become a co-operative in 2013 and hope to be producing fruit juice and cider over the coming years.

In December 2012, we were delighted to be awarded a new grant to establish a forest garden on the Farm. Based on permaculture principles, a forest garden is a carefully designed woodland ecosystem that mimics the different layers found in natural forests. Crops include fruits, nuts, edible leaves, spices, medicinal plants and materials for woodland crafts. They are valuable educational spaces because they serve as living examples of the many varied useful products of trees and woodlands. When completed, the new Forty Forest Garden will be London's largest forest garden. Work is also underway to establish a market garden on the Farm, which will provide organic fruit and vegetables for a new vegetable box scheme, as well as increasing the horticultural therapy offered at the Farm. The scheme is part of a new project being run in conjunction with the London Borough of Enfield, aimed at promoting community food growing.

As well as these specific projects, we have been increasingly working with our local community to organise events and to open the Farm for public visits. We regularly host school trips and in June 2012 we held a Big Jubilee Lunch, featuring local bands and attended by over 900 local residents - something we hope to repeat in 2013. We also held our first Apple Day and a Yuletide Celebration, featuring the wonderful Hackney Secular Singers, in 2012.

The Farm is not open to the public yet but we are developing a selfguided farm trail and hope to be open by summer 2013. In the meantime, there are countless opportunities to get involved in the exciting projects underway at the Farm. Our next big event will be our Lambing Open Days, on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th March 2013. Why not come along and see for yourself what we're up to?

Alternatively, visit our website www.fortyhallfarm.org.uk

or contact me directly on kate.mcgeevor@capel.ac.uk if you'd like to know more.

First published in the EGP members newsletter, February 2013

Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ