Archive for the ‘Growing Memories’ Category

Time to reconnect and celebrate the harvest!

Growing Memories Big Lunch 2013 pdfGreetings everyone

Growing Connections, will be holding our Big Lunch this year on Saturday 28th September from 11am until 2pm.

The theme will be Growing Memories and we look forward to sharing the material gathered from our Heritage Lottery Funded project with you all while enjoying fresh soup and salad grown with the volunteers’ help on the farm! Some of you will remember last years Big Lunch which was a fantastic day on the farm. This is again an opportunity to enjoy a social occasion and celebrate together.

It will be followed on the 19th October with the launch of the ‘Growing Memories’ project booklet, when the farm will be open to the public and the North Down Mayor and many others will be visiting our project. It would be great if you could make this event as well, since we will be holding our AGM on the same day. More details of this day to follow.

The Growing Memories project has been great fun with participant under 25 and over 50 sharing stories, through food, games, TV programmes and even mobile phones!
We will be sharing our video and digital material at the Big Lunch, and look forward to sharing more tales from across the years!

Games for all ages

Games for all ages

Paul and Gary, with the volunteers, are working every week on the farm, keeping it looking great and safe for users – many, many thanks to them all! Thanks to their hard work we can focus on all the other things …

Lets celebrate this year on the farm!

Rachael & Susanne


Introduction and Recruitment Day for Growing Memories

We had a very enjoyable and successful Information Day for the project on Saturday 11th May, resulting in most of the visitors signing up to participate in the programme.

Our team of volunteers, and farm manager had worked hard to prepare the barns to welcome folk from Bangor and Ards down the farm.
Many had been on the farm as children or working in the area and journeyed through the Quarries Farm daily to and from work or school.

All gathered around the table

All gathered around the table

We had about 15 people gathered, and invited everyone around the table. We quickly realised there was no need for ice breakers as stories flowed between all ages!
Old maps helped all ages to see how the area had been in the 70's

Old maps helped all ages to see how the area had been in the 70’s

Folk had the chance to get reacquainted, and Dennis Neill kindly brought maps along of the area in 1968-69 and earlier, illustrating to all ages how the area has changed.

With a patch of dry weather we lead short tours of Growing Connections facilities on Quarries farm and Ruby shared a little ‘bread and butter’ with her Grandaughter, from the Hawthorn trees first Spring leaves.

John Irvine
It was wonderful to hear all the stories and fantastic to have such willing contributors!

We are looking forward to welcoming everyone back for the first session on Friday 31st May at 1pm.

We are also looking for some more Under 25’s to participate, so spread the word and if you know anyone ask them to get in touch
with Rachael 02891878997 or email we look forward to hearing from you.

Family Memories from The Quarries Farm

My name is Joan Woods. I spent my childhood on The Quarries Farm with my Mummy and Daddy and my brother Peter. My grandfather ,Robert James Woods, moved here from Blackabbey, with his new bride in 1892 and my father and all his siblings were born in the farm house.

farm house yard individual image

I never met most of my aunts and uncles on my Daddys side or any of my grandparents, which is why family stories of life on the farm were very important to us. My Dad was born in 1908 and he often called me by his youngest sister’s name – Lavina. Do you see the resemblance? That is her sitting beside John bringing in the hay with their sister Dorothy.

4 john dorothy and lavina with a load of hay

When I was small our life on the farm did not seem to be much different to when my Dad was little. Apart from the introduction of tractor drawn machinery which replaced the working horses, life was very rural and the nearest town (Bangor) was 3 miles away. We had machinery but it was all on a small enough scale that could still get though our 140 year old gates without knocking them for six. We were a community in the countryside and relied on the help of friends and neighbours who would rally round when we had to bring in the harvest.

hay taken to yard

john on tractor

Clearing the snow at Quarries Farm 1964

Clearing the snow at Quarries Farm 1964

As a young child we worked alongside the adults, scratching the inside of our arms with the straw ends, whist we lifted the bales to form in a ‘stook’ that would ‘turn the rain’. We were learning skills and working in a team. When I have strong sweet tea and an egg sandwich it always reminds me of seeing my Mummy come down to the field with her wicker basket. Inside were sandwiches and flasks containing the hot sweet tea. Young and old, neighbours and friends sat down to take a break and eat together. Before we started up to get the hay baled and stooked before the rain came. Our neighbouring farmer John Boal would always exclaim ‘Boys o Boys’ at the weight of some of the bales.

We were mostly self sufficient producing our own milk, butter, eggs and our livestock in the freezer. Daddy was a mixed farmer. Growing potatoes and barley and turnips for the animals. Most of the land was in grazing for cattle and sheep and we bred pigs. Each year my parents would fence off a different part of a field for us to grow our vegetables and we had an orchard for our apples and pears. I have fond memories of hot summer afternoons sitting on the kitchen step shelling peas. And the whole family out in the autumn picking blackberries from the hedges.

The 70’s brought a lot of changes. Bangor and Newtownards area plans created new housing for many families experiencing the worst of the Troubles in their homes in Belfast. As land was ‘compulsory purchased’, one by one, our neighbours and friends had to leave their homes and the farms they had built up over generations. Many moved miles away down the ards peninsular and further a field.

My walk from school changed over the years. Going out the Gransha Road I had to step round all the road works where they were building the big dual carriageway that began to circle the town. The more they built of the new road, the more my route home had to change. The winds and bends of the road I had walked all those years were gone. It became known as the Old Gransha Road and there was a brand new straight road which I crossed the new roundabout to reach.

Having walked alone for many years previously I began to share longer parts of my walk out of Bangor with girls whose famlies had come to live in the new houses built long the new road. New friendships were formed on those walks home laden down with a hockey bag, all my books and a basket of Hot pot (created in Domestic Science that afternoon) running down my leg.

Then the boys’ school was built in a big field on the right of the road. Which meant I was walking against the great stream of boys coming back home into Bangor as I made my solitary walk home to the country side. Some times encounters were not so good with a bit of bullying but there were friendships formed there too and a four pack of Babycham from a repentant bully.

My last memories of the old walk home was on a Saturday afternoon sitting with a friend at the Signpost at the Primacy Village Turn off. Just beside Ethel Miskelly’s house.

The sun was hot and we sat in the long grass by the road, chatting for an hour or so with bumble bees buzzing and us making squawking whistles with our own breath on a blade of grass between our thumbs. Not many cars when past as not many people lived out their then. It was getting near tea time so we said our goodbyes. My friend went back to Bangor via the Primacy and I walked the rest of the way home watching the bad bend before John Boal’s where you had to change sides as the cars could not see you.

I left the farm in 1978 and on each return from England the big road came out closer to our farm, more houses were built on either side. Traffic lights and a new road to Balloo, were put up where the Primacy signpost used to be, because of the volume of traffic along the road, and Ethel Miskelly’s house was hidden from view by all the shinning white new houses. John Boal’s majestic old trees lining his drive were gone, along with his house and farm, in order to make way for Chatsworth estate.

Today the road, I used to walk home from school along, has gone. My father went to the Primacy village school until the age of 14, by 70’s it was someone’s home and now, rather fittingly, it has now turned into a nursery for young children. Past the Primacy towards Bangor, there is Bloomfields. A big shopping centre with lots of high street shops. It is really convenient to be able to shop so close to home and the roads are much less bendy.

I don’t have to walk into Bangor anymore. Bangor has come out to me.

And a lot more changes have happened.
By the 80’s farming was becoming much more mechanised. Farmers began to take on more land to increase production and reduce overheads. They used larger machinery and had fewer farm workers. Many farmers stopped farming and let their land out to those who could expand.

By 1990 my Dad was a team of one on the farm and his traditional way of farming was not financially viable. In the change we had lost more than the neighbours and the countryside. We had lost a whole way of life.