97% of traditional hay meadows in England have disappeared since the 1940s
We are a small, enthusiastic group of local smallholders living in the Stiperstones and Cordon Hill area of the Welsh Marches, who are interested in the the management and conservation of wildflower rich hay meadows. Please look at our website and feel free to contribute to our discussions, come to our events or even join the group
As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the world, the activities of the Marches Meadows Group also continue to be affected. David Poynton, our chair, has written a letter to members of the group to update them on the state of play for our areas of interest, which is attached here. We will also continue to keep you informed as the situation becomes clearer about future meetings and events. The website and Facebook page will be kept updated, so please consult these for the latest position.
Spring is really here!
A Letter from David Poynton, Chair of the MMG Management Committee
I hope you are enjoying the lighter evenings and the generally warmer temperatures. Looking at my meadow the grass has really started to grow in the past week and the cowslips, which I propagated from seed collected in 2019, are just starting to flower. On the Stiperstones, at 350 meters above sea level, with not that many still days, we are generally a couple of weeks behind lower lying areas and 2°C cooler!
Just over a year ago we received an award from the People’s Postcode Lottery for a number of defined activities under the umbrella of the National Trust’s Stepping Stones Project. Despite all the problems with lockdowns and social distancing we have achieved the majority of the targets that we agreed. The remainder will be completed this spring and is a great result for the Group. Thank you all. We also really appreciate the input and guidance from Charlie Bell who is the NT project lead on this project. I hope in 2021 you have the opportunity to meet with her and others in the team.
You may recall that last year we were planning to hold the Hay Meadow Festival at the Discovery Centre, Craven Arms, which like most of our events had to be cancelled. Planning for a festival this year, on 24th July at the same location, is already in hand. As it will be held in the meadow area of the Discovery Centre it is anticipated that lock-down rules will allow the event to proceed. Many other wildlife groups will be present and, of course, we will be there displaying some of the new hay making machinery purchased with the People’s Postcode Lottery award, including the famous Australian seed collector - the “Grass Grabber”. Another date for this year’s diary is Saturday 3rd July, which is National Meadows Day. We are hoping to run, on that day, an event visiting some local meadows where we will celebrate the 100th household’s membership of the Group. It's been really encouraging to see our numbers continue to grow, despite the pandemic and cancelled events. The diversity of membership from those with no meadows, to large farms and estate holders, demonstrates the continuing interest in the restoration work occurring in the area. Please encourage neighbours, family and friends to join the Group. Membership forms can be downloaded from the website, or by contacting Siobhan, Richard or me.
Other events being considered this year are an illustrated talk on ‘Mammals associated with Hay Meadows; a Meadow Seed collection workshop, with some free seed to those attending; visits to some outstanding meadows within the Group and the popular autumn event held along the lines of Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time, but with our own experts on hand to deal with your meadow related issues.
Unfortunately, this year's AGM, scheduled for 4th May, will have to be a virtual event with the reports circulated beforehand for your comment and queries. At one of the internal events later in the year we will look to formally approve the reports. Our Membership Secretary, Siobhan Reedy, would normally be there to accept a cheque or cash for the renewal of membership, but as that's not possible she will be writing to you shortly listing the various ways in which payments can be made. Don’t forget that membership qualifies you for free access to MMG official events. For those renewing their membership for 2021, we intend to distribute a copy of a superb colour poster, designed and drawn by one of our members, Sarah Jameson, which illustrates the life of a traditional hay meadow and the associated wildlife. If you have ever wondered what green hay is all about then the poster will tell you.
I hope that many of you will have accessed some of the videos and webinars that have been run this year. Details have generally been emailed to members by Richard Small. Although I don't have animals, I attended the grazing webinar last week, to hear from the experts amongst our membership describe the differences and impacts that cattle, sheep, goats etc. can have on our meadows. A really important area and one to think about for future development of the Group.
Do keep in touch with MMG activities and all the other wildlife events that are happening within the South Shropshire area. I hope to see you in the not-too-distant future at one of the Marches Meadow Group events.
Kind regards David
Our annual newsletter is now available !
This is our third newsletter for the group featuring articles about events and projects which have taken place over the last year. These include a description of our haymaking activities during 2020 and a feature about the Stepping Stones project written by Charlie Bell, the Stepping Stones Project Officer
If you would like a digital copy of the newsletter just click on the link above. We hope you enjoy it!