Board meeting Friday 13th April 2018.
Ian welcomed the new board and thanked the outgoing members for their contributions.
Each board member will assume responsibility for one or more areas of the farm and will liaise with staff on all activities falling under that area in order to help ensure that the business is run in a coordinated and professional manner.
Ian Nicolson: Chair, care farm
Mark Tebbutt: Treasurer, finance, volunteers and woodland
Kath Godfrey: Secretary, café/café bookings & events and site management
Neil Hickson: growing and social media
Roger Buckner: shop
Rhiannon Jones: Education, animals and community events
Paul Shaw: allotments
A “Projects form” and general “Enquiries form” will be added to the website. This will provide a formal channel for anyone wishing to propose a project at the farm.
Care farm report (IN)
We have a new starter from July and another from May, both currently attending the farm in a transition process. Staff are working hard to develop the care farm and continue to improve the service provided. Hazel, our care farm coordinator was congratulated on completion of a level 5 social care qualification. Our current staff are Hazel, Ian, Laura and Chloe. The care farm is financially self-supporting and carrying additional running costs of the farm.
Finance report (MT)
The café and shop have been running at a loss since the business opened in July. This is not unexpected but has placed a strain on the farm’s limited reserves. This month however has seen a substantial increase in turnover and the project has passed the current break-even point. It is important that all board members have a basic understanding of the financial position of the farm and should direct queries regarding the cashflow provided to Mark.
Growing report (NH)
It has been a slow start to the season but there is now a surplus of young plants with potential for plant sales. Salads have been consistent over the winter period and as spring progresses the farm produce will replace bought in vegetables in the shop. The former pig area will be ploughed to bring into use for growing. A number of new and competent volunteers have come on board in recent weeks which is a great help to the project.
Shop report (RB)
Shop sales have steadily improved over the last 6 weeks and there has been much positive and constructive feedback about the products, atmosphere, and personal touch. People are visiting from further afield but we also want to attract more local people and will continue to review the products stocked. The shop and kitchen are working more closely to reduce wastage and promote the products, but signage needs addressing and it is important that Nadya begins to take a more active role in the shop.
Cafe report (KG)
Since January cafe sales have gradually increased with a rapid improvement last month, boosted by the Easter activities. The quizzes, music night and afternoon tea have generated new interest and will be regular features. The café is now open daily and Sunday opening has been particularly successful. Following the Environmental Health visit the cafe has been awarded a food hygiene rating of 5: thanks noted to Dawn Heywood for her contribution.
Animals report (RJ)
The animals are mostly doing well apart from losing our ducks to a fox. The small animals will be returning outside shortly and the goats are being acclimatized prior to moving to the woodland enclosure.
Woodland report (MT)
The orchard has now been planted and the chickens will be allowed into this area imminently.
Allotments report (PS)
Everything is going well and any enquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Education report (RJ)
Rhiannon and Martin are focusing their efforts on the Wednesday and Saturday kids clubs and similar activities rather than school groups. Farmer for a day was a great success and an extra date was added to accommodate demand. The Tuesday toddler group will be reviewed in a couple of months for improvement in numbers. The importance of encouraging people to pre-book for events and activities was noted.
One project (IN)
Projects need to be prioritized with one one focal project at a time to ensure that projects are completed and to avoid inadvertent conflict over resources. This does not preclude volunteers from choosing to work in a specific area (e.g. growing) but it is important to enable volunteers to engage in worthwhile activities. The board will draw up a programme of projects to be advertised on the website. Contributions to this discussion are welcomed.
A permanent café manager will be recruited imminently. Recruitment of a full time position will require an increase in monthly turnover of around £700. The income trend suggests this will be achievable by the time a candidate is selected. The position will be advertised in a variety of locations to attract someone with a passion for the ethos of the farm.
A support worker will be required for the kitchen/cafe from July. This position will be recruited imminently subject to confirmation by Hazel.
The farm aspires to acquire a small number of pigs, which are a popular attraction. Currently the logistics of this have not been finalized.
Sales and selling
A concern regarding direct selling of products in the café and shop was discussed. It was agreed that sampling is a very effective way of selling untried products and has proved very successful thus far, generating substantial sales. A limited negative response has been received regarding this but the majority of feedback has been very positive. In a new business there is a need, in the initial stages only, to be proactive in introducing customers to products. Providing a sensitive approach is used, this method was deemed, by unanimous vote, to be acceptable.
Mark has applied for £10k from the Coop.
Hazel has secured a £5k grant from Screwfix.
Ian identified Causes for Carriers [5p Carrier bag fund] as a possible source of funding, as well as a grant available from the Vegetarian society, potentially to run an event
The farm will be taking action shortly in order to comply with the forthcoming changes to data protection laws.
The next meeting scheduled for 18th May. One item for discussion will be prioritizing practical projects for the coming months. If you would like to contribute to this discussion or raise another issue to the board please contact email@example.com or use the project proposal form or enquiry form on our website.