Welcome to our August Newsletter. After a dry month and record-breaking heat in June we have been treated to one of the wettest Julys on record, and a very difficult year for making hay. Our seed harvesting plans have also been very disrupted, but with the occasional dry day we have managed to harvest from all our intended donor sites – see update below.
This issue contains details of our 2023 ANNUAL FORUM is on 23 September with Nikki Yoxhall speaking on DIVERSITY IN GRASSLAND SYSTEMS: The key to agroecological transition and much more.
Don’t forget to register as a free member of Herefordshire Meadows CIO by 7th September if you wish to actively participate in our upcoming inaugural AGM which will take place at the FORUM Saturday 23rd September. Become a HM Member!
- Upcoming events:
Saturday 23rd Sept. – Herefordshire Meadows Annual Forum & Inaugural AGMDIVERSITY IN GRASSLAND SYSTEMS
The key to agroecological transition
Withington Village Hall, HR1 3PP 09:45 for 10.00 – 13.30
(light refreshments provided – bring your own travel mug)
SPEAKER NIKKI YOXHALL – farmer and research manager at Pasture for Life
DIVERSITY IN GRASSLAND SYSTEMS: The key to agroecological transition.
Nikki will explore how diversity presents in various contexts and how both farmer experience and academic research are shining a light on the role of diversity in the transformation of our food, farming and land use systems.
We will also hear about members’ meadow conservation and restoration work and what Herefordshire Meadows have been up to since the last FORUM 3 years ago. There will be a chance for members and partner organisations to catch up over sandwiches at the end.
The FORUM will start with a short inaugural Herefordshire Meadows CIO AGM.
Please note that you need to be a full Herefordshire Meadows CIO member before 7th September to vote at the AGM, propose or be proposed as a Trustee and enjoy other free benefits. This is in addition to being on our general mailing list. Please sign up as a member using this form or cut and paste this link into your browser http://www.herefordshiremeadows.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Membership-sign-up-letter-3.6.23.docx
Friday 8th & Saturday 9th September – Emergent Generation at Conygree Farm
An event in the Cotswolds for people aged 18-30 working together to build a sustainable agroecological food system and regenerative future.
More info about the Emergent Generation Network and event tickets available online here
Friday 15th & Saturday 16th September – The Marches Real Food & Farming Conference at Linley Hall, Linley Farm, Bishop’s Castle SY9 5HL
This conference will be bringing together food producers, farmers, scientists, and influencers from across the Marches to discuss the future of farming and some of the newest ideas on farming and food.
More info and tickets available online at https://www.mrffc.uk/
- Catch Up:
Herefordshire Meadows Seed Harvesting 2023
This summer Herefordshire Meadows harvested almost a tonne of material from 10 species-rich meadows around Herefordshire, for distributing to 25 landowners to create over 70 hectares of new, species rich grassland this autumn.
The bulk of the harvest was gathered using our quad drawn seed harvesting machine, but we supplemented this with some smaller scale vacuum harvesting with a handheld device (a modified leaf blower) useful for targeting specific species.
The weather was a challenge this year, as the seed harvesting machine does not function well in wet sward, but thankfully there were sufficient occasional dry days to allow us to get out on site.
Some of the seed was collected directly from the donor site after being harvested by the receptor site landowners for drying and storing at home. But the bulk of the harvest was transported for drying and cleaning at Fawley Court, where our new and untested seed cleaning machine (generously donated by Green Farm Seeds) is currently stored. The almost 1 tonne (wet weight) of harvest contained a large amount of chaff, grass stalks, leaves, empty seed heads etc which we wanted to remove as much of as was possible to aid machine broadcasting of seed on larger sites. We will report on the results of our seed cleaning experiments at a later date!
Some harvesting highlights this year included harvesting from meadows high in the Olchon Valley with wonderful views of the surrounding ridges and harvesting at Joan’s Hill the county Coronation Meadow and a Plantlife Nature Reserve. Keep a look out this Autumn for a mini film we are putting together in collaboration with the Wye & Usk Foundation which will feature footage of our day harvesting at Joan’s Hill!
Many thanks to Mark and Chris and Co. at Fawley Court for all your help, good humour, and barn space this year! To Matt Cobb for harvesting the seed and being so flexible and supportive as always throughout. And thank you once again to all of the donor meadow owners for the crucial role you play in what we do.
Meadow Walk at Brookmead and Colwall Village Garden
We had fantastic weather and a full house for our penultimate summer meadow walk at Brookmead and Colwall Village Garden, a wonderful community resource with education and engagement being central to the land management approach.
Lindsay Williams, owner of Brookmead and Trustee of Colwall Orchard Group, kindly led the tour that took us to four fields all restored in 2019 with support from Herefordshire Meadows and funding from Plantlife and the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Foundation.
The evening included discussions regarding the joint establishment of orchards and species rich grassland, and a presentation from University of Liverpool PHD researcher Indie Jones, who is looking into invertebrate populations on grasslands and use of ‘wildlife corridors across the country. More info on our website www.herefordshiremeadows.org.uk/meadow-walk-at-brookmead-and-colwall-village-garden/
Meadow Walk at Far House Farm
The final meadow walk of the season was at Far House Farm, Maescoed on 11th July with many thanks to our hosts and generous Herefordshire Meadows supporters Joanna and Bruce Jenkyn Jones.
The walk took us through a meadow successfully enhanced from former pasture in 2021 (Herefordshire Meadows and Plantlife GRCF Meadow Makers project) which now has an abundance of wildflowers, and a variety of shelter belts, young woodland and orchards. Tree planting, natural regeneration, glade management, bracken control and a variety of other activities were discussed.
A full report of the event with links to lots of useful information is on our website at:https://www.herefordshiremeadows.org.uk/meadow-walk-at-far-house-farm-the-power-of-natural-regeneration-to-restore-a-mosaic-of-meadow-pasture-woodland-and-orchard/
Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) 2023 info released
The SFI Handbook for the 2023 offer has been released by DEFRA and the RPA, which sets out all the actions that landowners can be paid for and the rules for scheme involvement – with applications being accepted from August 2023 onwards on a rolling basis.
This year’s offer does not require a minimum area of land for inclusion and will include a new ‘pick and mix’ arrangement which it is hoped will allow more flexibility. Actions include activities relating to soil health, hedgerow management, providing food and habitats for wildlife, and managing pests and nutrients.
There is an overview of new scheme here:
And the full details available in the handbook at:
Parrysfield Scythe Festival
There were scything lessons and demonstrations at Parrysfield in Orcop on the 27th to 30th July, with many attendees taking the opportunity to gather green hay to enhance their own meadows.
The event was hosted by David Kuegler who runs demonstrations, events, and training in this traditional method of meadow management.
For info on future events contact
firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
UK Farmer Group discussion Network
Established in 2018, this Network involves almost 200 farmer groups across the UK. It is a completely independent (non-government) network exclusively for farmers, managed by The University of Exeter. Through surveys, on-line meetings, exchange visits and information newsletters, the Network provides an opportunity to consider and discuss a huge range of issues relevant to the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the farm business – including government policy, technical farm management issues, public attitudes, food supply chain (retailer) relationships and much more. There is a popular programme of informal meetings with senior decision makers in public, private and third sector who have a direct influence on the farming sector.
Network members can get involved in as much or as little of the discussions/activities as they wish or can simply use the Network as a source of information. It is free to join and members can leave at any time. Please click on this link (or copy the link into your browser) to join the Network via our website https://www.farmergroupdiscussion.org/join
It takes less than 2 minutes to sign-up and all data is managed in strict accordance with GDPR legislation and the University’s ethics policy. If you have any questions, please contact Alex Inman at email@example.com or mobile 07895 061633.
Webinar recording: Governance for Multiple Outcomes at Landscape Scale on Commons – A Defra Test and Trial
The Foundation for Common Land have uploaded a recording of their recent webinar, which is the final of their Lowland Test & Trial webinars. The discussions provided insight into the complexity of governance and management of commons at landscape scale.
The full webinar recording can be viewed on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/RJ6_dNvnFdQ
And more resources and information can be found here: https://foundationforcommonland.org.uk/
Article: Soil carbon sequestration accelerated by restoration of grassland biodiversity
A recently published article which presents data demonstrating how soil carbon sequestration is significantly accelerated by the restoration of grassland plant diversity
Become a Member of Herefordshire Meadows CIO:
Please read this NEWS post and sign up today to become a member of Herefordshire Meadows CIO – if you want to actively participate in the AGM please sign up by 7 Sept.
We are now fully registered for donations through the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). If you would like to make a donation to support the preservation, restoration and creation of species rich grasslands across Herefordshire you can do this by following this link. https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/23639#!/DonationDetails
Herefordshire Meadows Team
Herefordshire Meadows is registered in England and Wales as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration no. 1198105