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Trainers plan to bloom and buzz East Devon and the Blackdowns

Craig Dunton (right) with harvested wildflower seeds

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

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

With funding from the Devon Environment Foundation, the More Meadows concept is an attempt to replicate the success of the original Moor Meadows group by supporting new networks of grassland producers across Devon.

Small tortoiseshell butterfly and red tailed bumblebee in the meadow Robbie Phillips

The new More Meadows groups for the Blackdown Hills and East Devon were founded by local nature enthusiasts concerned about the continuing decline of wildlife, but inspired by efforts to create more wildlife-friendly habitats.

Although lost to much of the countryside due to changes in agriculture during the 20th century, traditional grasslands rich in wildflowers can be maintained, restored or created on farmland, in gardens and cemeteries and on the sides of the roads.

This conservation work can play a crucial role in reversing the plight of bees, butterflies and other endangered pollinators as well as birds and mammals that depend on insects for food.

Julian Pady from Goren Farm in Stockland Hill near Honiton helps start the Blackdown Hills More Meadows group. Goren Farm Wildflower Meadows already provide a commercial supply of wildflower seeds, with customers including many grassland growers in Devon.

Julian Pady said: “If the Covid restrictions allow, we will be opening our grasslands from May 1 in conjunction with the National Gardens Scheme and running open grassland events throughout June for preparers to attend. attend. I’ll lead guided walks, talk about grassland management, and show how we approach agriculture and wildlife on Goren’s 70 acres.

Meadow of Goren farm

Potential meadow growers from East Devon who join the new More Meadows group also have the opportunity to help one of England’s rarest animals. The Gray Bat feeds on moths and other insects, so grasslands rich in wildflowers are ideal foraging habitat. With two key maternity roosts located in East Devon, a new project led by East Devon AONB and Bat Conservation Trust aims to secure the future of this rare species.

Craig Dunton, head of the new bat project, said: “If you are looking for support for grassland creation, this project will provide advice on land management to reconnect and restore wildflower meadows in the parishes of Colyford, Colyton, Musbury, Shute, Uplyme, Combepyne and Rousdon, Kilmington, Axminster and Hawkchurch. More grassland will mean more vital foraging habitat, helping to save the gray bat.

An online forum for grassland producers was launched last month to encourage the creation and dissemination of new More Meadows groups. Julien Pady from Goren Farm said: “The More Meadows Forum is an incredible 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/

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Devon ecologist Tracey Hamston, who supports this process for More Meadows, said: “New groups of local grassland enthusiasts are forming as individuals contact other wildlife-friendly landowners in their area. The online forum provides a network for people to find other people living nearby, organize meetings and plan how to move forward, with the goal of creating and restoring so many rich grasslands. in cash as possible and connect with like-minded people in the process. . “

Joining the forum is free and offers resources and advice on managing a prairie – including where to get wildflower seeds or seed-rich “green hay” – while forum members can help identify plants and wild creatures in fields or garden meadows.

More Meadows is also hosting a series of free online lectures by expert speakers, open to anyone. The next event, “How to Create a Meadow,” is a guide on how to turn a field or enclosure into a meadow rich in wildflowers. Tickets for the online conference on Thursday March 25 are free but you must register 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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