Meadow-makers plan to get East Devon and the Blackdowns blooming and buzzing

Two new community groups for East Devon and the Blackdown Hills aim to support landowners and gardeners keen to restore or create wildflower meadows.

Obviously this is something Owl would encourage – the traditional manicured lawn is pretty much a wildlife desert, a wildflower patch doesn’t have to be big. Everyone with a garden can have one. Make this your spring project.

The local More Meadows groups are based on the successful Moor Meadows Dartmoor community, which since its founding in 2015 has grown to include more than 800 meadow-makers, managing more than 1,000 acres of wildflower meadow to benefit wild plants and wildlife on Dartmoor and beyond.

Thanks to funding from Devon Environment Foundation, the More Meadows concept is an attempt to replicate the original Moor Meadows group’s success by supporting new networks of meadow-makers across Devon.

The new More Meadows groups for the Blackdown Hills and East Devon have been founded by local nature enthusiasts concerned about ongoing wildlife declines but inspired by efforts to create more wildlife-friendly habitats.

Although lost from much of the countryside due to changes in agriculture during the 20th century, traditional wildflower-rich grassland can be maintained, restored or created on farmland, in gardens and churchyards and on road verges.

This conservation work can play a crucial role in turning around the fortunes of threatened bees, butterflies and other pollinators as well as the birds and mammals that rely on insects for food.

Helping to start the Blackdown Hills More Meadows group is Julian Pady of Goren Farm, at Stockland Hill, near Honiton. The wildflower meadows at Goren Farm already provide a commercial supply of wildflower seeds, with customers including many meadow-makers in Devon.

Julian Pady said: ”Covid restrictions permitting, we will be opening our meadows from the 1st of May in conjunction with the National Gardens Scheme and we will be running open meadows events throughout June for meadow makers to attend. I will lead guided walks, talking about meadow management and demonstrating how we approach farming and wildlife on the 70 acres at Goren.”

Potential meadow-makers in East Devon joining the new More Meadows group also have an opportunity to help one of England’s rarest animals. The grey long-eared bat preys on moths and other insects, so wildflower-rich meadows provide ideal foraging habitat. With two key maternity roosts located in East Devon, a new project led by East Devon AONB and Bat Conservation Trust is focused on securing the future for this rare species.

Leading the new bat project is Craig Dunton, who said: ”If you are seeking support for meadow creation, this project will be providing land management advice to reconnect and restore wildflower meadows in the parishes of Colyford, Colyton, Musbury, Shute, Uplyme, Combepyne and Rousdon, Kilmington, Axminster and Hawkchurch. More meadows will mean more vital foraging habitat, helping to save the grey long-eared bat.”

An online forum for meadow makers launched last month to encourage the creation and spread of new More Meadows groups. Julien Pady of Goren Farm said: “The More Meadows forum is an amazing space, a valuable resource of information for all who join.” The Blackdown Hills and East Devon groups are the latest to form and details of both groups can be found at http://forum.moremeadows.org.uk/ 

Supporting this process for More Meadows is Devon ecologist Tracey Hamston, who said: “New groups of local meadow enthusiasts are being formed as individuals reach out to other wildlife-friendly landowners in their area. The online forum is providing a network for people to find others living nearby, organise getting together and planning how to move forward, with the aim of creating and restoring as much species-rich meadow as possible and connecting to like-minded folk in the process.”

Joining the forum is free and offers resources and advice on managing a meadow – including where to source wildflower seeds or seed-rich ‘green hay’ – while forum members can help identify the wild plants and creatures in field or garden meadows.

More Meadows also organises a series of free online talks by expert speakers, open to everyone. The next event, ‘How to Create a Meadow’, is a guide on how to turn a field or paddock into a wildflower-rich meadow. Tickets for the online talk on Thursday 25 March are free but you must register a place at https://createameadow.eventbrite.co.uk 

For more information on More Meadows visit the forum at http://forum.moremeadows.org.uk/

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