This is a very exciting blog post!
Earlier in the year I listened to a ‘Roots and All’ podcast with my friend meadow expert Keith Datchler being interviewed about wild flower meadows. Not only was I puffed up in pride to hear him speak but I was also inspired by his beautiful wisdom, insights and challenge to explore how I personally could do my bit for biodiversity.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock I believe we are all now familiar with the narrative “No bees, no food.” Our intensive agricultural practices, obsession with tidiness and use of chemicals are destroying the habitat for bees and other vital pollinators that we rely on for our food production. Yeah right….we’ve shot ourselves in the foot!
While things can feel very stark at the moment the tide could be on the turn; with increased awareness and understanding we are slowly unpicking thoughts and practices. ‘No Mow May‘ has been a triumph for example. On a local facebook page one wingeing post about ‘the untidiness’ of the grass verges was met by a tidal wave of positivity from the community in support of this initiative. It’s a delight to hear people comment how “beautiful it looks” and how they are noticing more bees and butterflies and they are appreciating the profusion of wild flowers.
So on a grey winter’s day I had the brainwave to turn our little patch of lawn into a wild flower meadow…..then my thoughts side-stepped……as it often does! I had a vision of trying this on a larger scale and that’s when the ‘Dog Walkers’ Field,’ ‘Meadow’ or its given name ‘Anderida Park’ came to mind. While this filed is already doing a brilliant job for nature, with increased biodiversity could we help nature even more?
We are so blessed in Westham and Pevensey as a local community to have this space on our doorsteps. We are in a precious historical area with our Pevensey Castle as the jewel in the crown but it can feel very pressured to live here with the increased traffic and the creep of new housing estates gobbling up all but the last few remaining fields that divide us from our neighbouring village Stonecross. Anderida Park has become a sanctuary to so many of us and is a haven for wildlife. Sometime you can hear hunting owls at night as they look for little rodents in the deep grass, and the black poplar trees are famed for their magical baubles of mistletoe.
Anderida Park is managed by Pevensey Parish Council and after chatting to Keith he agreed to come and have a look at the site to see if a wild flower meadow would be viable, and in tangent I started communication with the parish council to see if they would be open to the idea. At present Anderida Park does have wild flowers such as red clover, buttercups, and common vetch but it’s primarily a grass meadow. If we are able to introduce more flowers there is a chance we can attract different pollinators and in turn their predators such as birds.
We then had a second site meeting, this time with parish council representatives. Keith suggested we run a trial to test the viability, which the Parish Council agreed to. So on the 17th July we got to work on our 10′ x 10′ patch at the west end of the field not far from the railway crossing. Before we cut the grass I took a record of all the species in the test area.
Ordinarily we would have just covered the area with old carpet to kill back some of the grass to expose bare soil which is much better for the seed. As we are a little late in the season we decided to cut the grass first. We popped the grass cutting in the hedgerow which will be appreciated by creatures such as slow worms.
We shall be introducing some locally harvested wild flower meadow seeds before autumn and then we sit back and see what happens! We have had to keep this very small and in house this year, but if it is a success we will be looking at how we can expand the project and involve the community. The folk who stopped and chatted to us while we worked were equally excited by this opportunity and shared the vision for more wild flowers……. we even had offers to volunteer! This is very much a project of patience and goodwill and let’s hope we get some good luck along the way. I will be posting updates here and forwarding to Pevensey Parish Council.
So to wrap this blog up I need to say some very big thank yous……
Firstly thank you to Keith Datchler for your inspiration, guidance and practical support to get this test patch underway.
Secondly thank you to Pevensey Parish Council for taking up this opportunity, with special thanks to Cllr Shirley Mackinnon and Clerk Sarah Mosedale for being so positive and providing practical support…… such as carpets and posters!
If you would like to hear the podcast that inspired me:
Thank you for reading and supporting The Gossamer Threads Project.
‘Deepening our connections to nature and each other through creativity’
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