Ben Hollins

Fordhall Farm Event Caterers

Fordhall Farm is England’s first community-owned farm. It is the result of Ben Hollins and his sister Charlotte selling £50 non-profitmaking community shares in the farm where their father had been a tenant, in order to safeguard its future.

In 2006, The Fordhall Community Land Initiative was launched, offering the siblings security of tenure for 100 years, but the next challenge was to make sure it was profitable and sustainable for the future.

The aim has always been to add value to produce from the farm and this was initially done by the usual methods of selling fresh meat at farmers’ markets, at the farmgate and online, and this still remains the base of the current butchery business. But Ben and Charlotte eventually realised more value could be added by cooking the products.

So, from small beginnings selling steak baps at a Christmas fair, the catering side developed and now operates as a separate business to the farm.

Its main product is premium burgers and sausages, which are all butchered and produced on-farm in the in-house butchery.


Fordhall Farm Event Caterers has grown rapidly and now manages catering contracts on a national scale, including at the Edgbaston Cricket Stadium and Carfest.

The ethos of the business is aimed at creating a food concession unit which people can trust and that offers high quality, honest, sustainable food. It is run by a young, dynamic and innovative team who are not afraid to do things a little differently.

With the capacity of making more than 10,000 of its core products, Ben has a clear plan as to how to grow the business and, while Covid-19 has severely impacted on this year’s events, he is confident the business will weather the storm and emerge stronger in the future

On winning, Ben said:

“Winning came as a massive shock and it was completely unexpected, but it is a massive opportunity for our business going forward.

“It has been a difficult year for everyone and this is a great boost for staff morale and the whole team.

“We had a few beers to celebrate and the kids were very excited. My phone has not stopping buzzing with congratulations messages from so many people, some of whom I have not seen for years, so it just shows how many people were watching.

“Watching the awards does make you stop and think about just how many opportunities there are in the farming industry, if you think outside the box, when you see what other businesses are doing.”

What the judges said:

“Ben pays great attention to detail and is using technology to differentiate his product from others. Recognising the opportunity to sell his pasture-fed and free-range meats at local events, the diversification has grown from a couple of griddles purchased from eBay to a fleet of 14 trailers catering for some of the UK’s biggest events. The farm, which Ben runs in partnership with his sister Charlotte, will continue to remain central to their future growth.