August 2021 Newsletter

HELLO

A warm welcome back to our Friends. Thanks so much for supporting the project.

August has been relatively quiet as many of us took a Summer break. As all locals will know the meadows have been cut. We held a super Bioblitz activity day at the beginning of the month. 

Read the full blog here and see the highlights below.

We’ve also been busy putting together a forthcoming article for the county-wide Flycatcher magazine. We’ll let you know when it’s been published!

THE CUT
 

The Church Commissioners carried out weed mitigation work in the middle of August by cutting and leaving the weeds. We put out the following statement: 

‘We are pleased to see that weed mitigation is being carried out currently on the meadows though we had not been informed it would take place from Friday 13th August. We have been in regular contact with the Church Commissioners and their land agents to raise concerns about weed control and appropriate management with a view to a longer term floodplain meadow restoration. We recommended a cut and collect in June which would have removed the seed bed, now seemingly to be left on the site. The Commissioners have not yet clarified their formal plan for how the land is to be farmed and how this current cut fits into that. We will communicate their plan as soon as we hear it. We will continue to push for an appropriate longterm floodplain meadows restoration plan that respects the environment and best practice. Best practice does not support the use of herbicides or ploughing which we have raised with the Commissioners.’

Agricultural work undertaken on this site is very much in the public eye. Some of our supporters made the following comments on social media:

Mary Bennett (local resident) wryly noted that topping the land to make it look tidier was not exactly land management.
Susan Crawshaw (forager and frequent walker of the meadows) raised concerns with the manner in which the cut was undertaken, ‘They seem to be cutting really, really close to the edges as well, which I thought they weren't going to do. And they're going around & around in ever decreasing circles which always makes me mad when I see it, as wildlife gets trapped in an ever decreasing island and can't escape, so gets squashed. It'll all grow again next year, as it's all seeded, but glad to see that it is being cut, but they need proper management. Thanks to everyone who's trying to get them to do something.’ Susan also found three dead flat rabbits in the top field after the mowing, presumably a consequence of  the method of mowing.
Jim Hardy (Hereford farmer and councillor) wrote, ‘What a waste of time and money! Everything has set seed so they are too late to prevent the docks and thistles etc germinating next year. And leaving all the cuttings to rot will only encourage the rank vegetation at the expense of the finer. Well done the Church Commissioners!’ Jim also noted that the mowing has destroyed winter habitat for all kinds of wildlife, in particular birds who would have enjoyed the ripe seed.

The Commissioners have not yet communicated their longer term plan though we continue to be in regular contact.

Photo by Ruth Westoby

BIOBLITZ HIGHLIGHTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Reptile survey.
Sunday 5th September.

We are planning to carry out a mini-survey for reptiles along the permissive path at the back of Park Street.  There are four commonly found species of reptile in Britain: slow worm, grass snake, common lizard and adder.  They are generally found in sunny places with a range of vegetation structures that offer places to shelter, open areas to bask and insect-rich habitats to feed.  Grass snakes are more closely associated with water, where they will feed on fish and frogs, and adder largely occur in more open heathy places.  The species that is most commonly encountered in garden environments is slow worm, which can turn up in compost heaps or undisturbed piles of logs or vegetation.  For the survey, we will be putting out ‘mats’ (small squares of roofing felt) along the edge of the permissive path.  Where reptiles are present they will be drawn to these to bask upon or shelter under.  September is an ideal time to look for reptiles – the days are cooler so they are less active and easier to see, but they have not yet gone into hibernation.  Walkers along the path are invited to check under the mats as they pass and record anything they see.  And if anyone in Park Street has encountered reptiles in their garden we would be very interested to hear.


Online public meeting (Postponed).
Monday 13th September at 7pm.

Project introduction and launch of membership programme. Expect presentations from members of our committee to give an overview of our aims as a lobbying environmental group. We have invited the Church Commissioners and their agents to present their plans for the site and have not yet received a response.

Apologies to those who have booked or hoped to come to our public meeting on Monday 13th September. We have decided to postpone the meeting. We had planned to use the meeting to launch our membership scheme and provide further information on the management plans for the site. It has taken us a little longer than expected to open our bank account and we are still working to confirm the range of speakers we hope for to enable a fully informed discussion. Please keep an eye out for rescheduling – and our newsletters for the latest information on the project.


Bird walk.
Keep an eye out for our next Bird Walk in early October.


Herefordshire Wildlife Trust City branch Online Talk: Wild Plants in Urban Environments.
Thursday 4th November, 7:30pm – 9:00pm.

Our friends at HWT City Branch have an exciting event coming up on “We walk, stroll, and run down our city streets, most often without noticing the wealth of wild plants beneath our noses. Join the Hereford City Branch of the Hereford Wildlife Trust for a Zoom talk by Dr. Mark Spencer, who will take us on an urban wild plant safari. A well-known forensic botanist, Mark Spencer is also keen to make us aware of the wild fungi, lichens, and plants which pop up through our pavements, through the cracks in walls, and along our kerbs. To find out more about Mark Spencer, have a look at his website and show reel at www.markspencerbotanist.com


HEREFORDSHIRE CLIMATE AND NATURE PARTNERSHIP

Herefordshire Council is creating a new Herefordshire Climate and Nature Partnership. Its vision is to achieve a ‘thriving zero-carbon nature-rich Herefordshire by 2030’. The purpose of the Partnership is to catalyse and co-ordinate new action to help achieve this vision, through steering and overseeing the implementation of Herefordshire’s Climate and Nature Action Plans. Membership of the Partnership is free and is open to any organisation or business committed to helping achieve the Partnership’s vision.
Photo by Elaine Underwood

YOUR SUPPORT IS INVALUABLE, PLEASE:

  • Come along to our public meeting
  • Send us images of the Meadows
  • Share this newsletter
  • Join us on Facebook and Instagram
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here.
  • Become a member of the Friends Group – details to be announced at our online meeting on 13th September 

Best wishes

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth, Will and all at Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

July 2021 Newsletter

HELLO

A warm welcome to our Friends. Thank you so much for supporting our project for Bartonsham Meadows.

Throughout July’s torrential rain and blazing heat we’ve been busy.  Actions this month:

Hosted an informal follow-up to our first balsam bash on 4th July to cut further swathes behind the treatment works. Many locals have made huge efforts to continue to tackle the Himalayan balsam. What remains is now flowering but we will be back next year!
  
Met with the Church Commissioners on 7th July to discuss weed mitigation, advocate for floodplain restoration, and ascertain the requirements to pitch to buy the land. More in the ‘land management update’ below.
  
Hosted our penultimate summer event, a Wildflower Walk around the Meadows, on 11th July. Huge thanks to everyone who came along and made a donation, we all brushed up our weed, grasses and wildflower knowledge! Thanks to Anna Gundry for leading the walk and providing tick-off plant ID sheets and info leaflets to help along the way. See photos below. Check out below for details of our final #FoBMSummer event, the Bioblitz. 
  
Showcased the project at the wonderful Walking the Wye handover on Castle Green on 18th July. The #SaveTheWye pilgrims made such a powerful, moving entrance to Hereford. It was great to be a part of the celebration picnic with other local organisations - and a warm hello to anyone who has joined our mailing list since having a chat with us on that day!
  
Supported The Civic Society’s well-attended walk of the Meadows on 22nd July hosted by Jeremy Milln with history contributions from Bill Laws and David Whitehead. Ruth Westoby gave a quick introduction to our project.
  
Walked the site with the committee and a potential new tenant on 26th July. Watch this space……

IN OTHER NEWS…

We’re officially a Community Association! Very exciting stuff. You can view our constitution below. Now we have our brilliant committee of volunteers behind us, we’re in the process of formulating our membership scheme. See the events section below for how to get involved in our first official public meeting (hosted online) to learn more about becoming a subscribing supporter of our project.

“An interesting evening walk around Bartonsham Meadows, led by Cllr Jeremy Milne & hosted by Hereford Civic Society with contributions from David Whitehead, Ruth Westoby of the Friends of Bartonsham Meadows & Members of the Bartonsham History Group.” Kip Herring – Thanks for sharing!
Cheers! Making the most of the sunshine, enjoying a wild swim in the river from the meadows. This is what we need more of…

LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE

The Meadows are technically fallow, left unmanaged since the crop was taken in Autumn 2020. This has led to spectacular growth of vegetation which has benefited insects and birds. Yet proscribed weeds such as dock, thistle and ragwort predominate. We are campaigning for restoration of biodiverse grassland characteristic of traditional floodplain meadows to deliver benefits for people, wildlife and the environment. We continue to explore options for acquisition of the land on behalf of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust should the Church Commissioners be persuaded to dispose of it. We have also established a dialogue between the Church Commissioners and their agents and the country’s leading experts on floodplain meadow restoration. There has been extensive communications but as yet no immediate plan.

7th July meeting outcomes:

  • Agents for the Church Commissioners agreed to cut and remove the weeds potentially to the anaerobic digester plant at Hampton Bishop. Two weeks after that discussion it appears the remnant crop is now too woody to be of value for anaerobic digesters.
  • We understood from this meeting that the Commissioners are now not seeking to remove this parcel of land from the previous tenant’s Mid-Tier Stewardship Scheme.
  • We note that there are a range of views on the most appropriate restoration both in the interests of the environment and in the interests of expediency. The Friends group have communicated that we support a programme of cutting and carting as preliminary weed control in preparation for restoration of a grass sward, rather than herbicides and ploughing.
  • Agents for the Commissioners have asked us to communicate their preferred option with our supporters and we will of course do so. We have invited them to present their plans for the site at a public meeting in September.

Land management summary

  • The developments over the last year and a half since the Friends group got going can seem a little complex! After our June newsletter we produced a one page summary linked below. Check it out for an overview and do share with all interested parties.

SAVE THE DATE!

Our membership scheme is launching soon! We are hosting our first online public event as a committee to present our project and offer our membership programme. We’d love as many of our supporters to attend as possible. Expect presentations from members of our committee to give an overview of our aims as a lobbying environmental group. We have invited the Church Commissioners and their agents to present their plans for the site and answer questions.
The online event will take place on Monday 13th September, 7pm. Put the date in your diary! We’ll be following up with more information, including booking links, nearer the time.

YOUR SUPPORT IS INVALUABLE, PLEASE:

  • Come along to our Bioblitz
  • Send us your images of the Meadows
  • Share this newsletter widely
  • Join us on Instagram and Facebook
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here.
  • Make a donation to keep our project going. Dick, our new treasurer, is working on opening us a bank account but for now we would truly appreciate cheques dropped off the old-fashioned way here or you can donate via our Eventbrite page when checking out for events. If you feel you could contribute to a valuation please drop us an email to chloe@friendsofbartonshammeadows.org

Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth, Will and all at Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

June 2021 Newsletter

HELLO

A warm welcome back to our Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter. Thank you so much for supporting our project.


We’ve reached the end of June already! This month we have → 

  • Ticked off another #FoBMSummer event off the list! We had around 24 attendees join us for the Himalayan Balsam Bashing event. Thanks to everyone for their amazing efforts, we managed to get through loads of the stuff. Whilst it’ll come back next year all our efforts help to reduce the seedbank.

If you’re around on Sunday 4th July at 2pm, we’ll be having another informal session to get through some more before it flowers, so please do come along and give us a hand. No booking required, meet at the Green Street entrance to the Meadows. Long-sleeves and gloves essential. Scythes and sense of humour optional.
Thanks to everyone who has kept heading out to pull independently.

  • We’re just a couple of meetings away from becoming an official Community Association Group! We have our committee, constitution, and our sanity (just). All we need now is to tie a bow around it all with the final formality processes. Once we’re formalised, you’ll be able to join us as supporters (like you are now, having signed up to the mailing list) or as paying members, with the opportunity to make annual donations to support our project. We will keep you updated with our progress and look forward to welcoming you on board. Thanks again for the support!
  • We presented an update at the latest St. James’ Community Association meeting, where Ruth spoke about land management and Anna gave an update on events.
LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE

Recap: The Meadows are owned by the Church Commissioners and came out of a three generation tenancy at the beginning of 2021. The end of this tenancy saw the transition to arable in 2020 carried out by a sub-tenant. Since the crop was harvested in Autumn 2020 the land has lain fallow.

Concern: Friends of Bartonsham Meadows got together in February 2020 to voice concern over the transition to arable and accompanied environmental degradation that results from farming in this manner on a floodplain: run-off of pesticides and fertilisers into the river and loss of topsoil degrading the land and the river, loss of biodiversity, and reneging on the permanent pasture commitment in the then tenant’s Mid-Tier Stewardship Scheme.

Vision: Restore and protect the Meadows for public benefit by encouraging and supporting local responsible stewardship through championing biodiversity. Lobby for the restoration of the Meadows to a traditionally managed floodplain grassland habitat. This would achieve flood mitigation, carbon sequestration, ecological enhancement, improved river water quality, and quality green and blue space for the people of Hereford.

Actions: Pragmatically initiated and maintained dialogue with the landowners and managers, developed relationships with key decision-makers at local government and expert advisor level, and established a communications network with Hereford residents. We are extremely grateful for the support of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust without whom we would not have got this far. Alongside Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and to satisfy the landowner’s desire for a short-term tenancy we brokered a visionary plan that would have seen regenerative farming of a herd of Herefords on the land (thanks Kate Bradshaw and Tan House Farm!). This broke down due to unresolved problems with the existing Mid-Tier Stewardship Scheme, see our May newsletter here for more details. 

Next-up: Explore a pitch to buy the Meadows alongside Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and funded by the Council. The Church Commissioners have warned that this would have to be competitively costed and is not in line with their plans for the site or indeed the County. However, as a charity they would have to consider a good offer for the land. If successful we would seek grants and fundraise to pay back the Council.

Current management: The land is currently not tenanted and is designated fallow for BPS. We can get in there and rip up balsam; we do not have the authority or funding for a proper restoration project. We have some fabulous organisations on side who want to get out there and do a site visit and advise on a restoration project (the Floodplain Meadows Partnership, Herefordshire Meadows, the Plant-Fed Livestock Association, and not least Herefordshire Wildlife Trust!). Many of you have been in touch, concerned about the terrible state of the meadows: riddled with balsam, docks and thistles. Whilst this is heart-breaking and we want to sort it out NOW we do not have the resources or authority to comprehensively tackle this. We have taken these concerns to the Church Commissioners and have a meeting in the diary for next week.

You: Can you help pay for a valuation? Please get in touch if you can financially support this pitch.
“First time I’ve seen this butterfly in the meadows: a Painted Lady. Newly back from North Africa perhaps. It enjoyed darting from dandelion to dandelion.” Elaine Underwood

UPCOMING EVENTS, UPDATE YOUR CALENDAR

  • Sunday 11th July, 2pm – Wildflower Walk

Join local ecologist Anna Gundrey to help compile a botanical species list of the meadows, whilst picking up some expert plant ID tips along the way.

Online booking is essential, we have a limited number of spaces for this event so do book on early to avoid disappointment.

We’ll be starting from the usual Green Street gate at 2pm.

This event is suitable for beginners to plant identification and well-practiced plant spotters alike. If you have them, please bring along your wildflower books to use on the move! A species tick list and some basic ID sheets will be available.

For the tech-savvy, there will also be a chance to investigate the iRecord app for mapping species/plantlife on the meadows digitally.

This is a free event but you will have the option to make a much-needed donation to Friends of Bartonsham Meadows at checkout. Thank you for your support.

  • Sunday 18th July, 2pm-4:30pm We’re joining “Walking with the Wye” – “A month-long pilgrimage along the River Wye from its source to where it ends at the Severn estuary, to celebrate this magnificent river and its vital tributaries, and to raise awareness of the environmental destruction it is facing.”
  • Come and see us in the marquee on the 18th July! We’ll be waving our flag on Castle Green. You can visit the organisers’ (Save the Wye) Facebook Group here.
  • Thursday 22nd July, 6.00pm – Civic Society Walk – See our social media and more emails nearer the time for details!
  • Saturday 7th/Sunday 8th August, various times – 24 Hour Bio Blitz – Expect an array of day and night events including bat surveying, moth-trapping, dawn bird-calling and more. Something for all the family, we encourage you to bring your kids along! More details soon.
On the final May Bank Holiday weekend, Mo was down at the meadows waving the FoBM flag at Bartonsham History Group’s event…

ORGANIC MEAT BOXES ON OFFER…

Our friend and regenerative farmer Kate Bradsaw would like to offer the Friends 100% pastured beef and hogget boxes this season, which should be ready late Summer and early Autumn. She says:

“They really do taste fantastic, have no chemical or grain input and are fully reared on nothing but pasture – grass, hay, hedgerows etc. and are uncertified organic. I can offer a small discount to the Friends and could also do a combined delivery at the time to save on fuel.”

Kate’s online shop is ready to take pre-orders: https://attanhousefarm.co.uk/shop/
WE NEED YOUR HELP MORE THAN EVER. PLEASE:

Come along to our summer events

Send us your images of the meadows

Share this newsletter widely

Join us on FB

Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here.

Make a donation to keep our project going. Dick, our new treasurer, is working on opening us a bank account but for now we would truly appreciate cheques dropped off the old-fashioned way here or you can donate via our Eventbrite page when checking out for events. If you feel you could contribute to a valuation please drop us an email to chloe@friendsofbartonshammeadows.org

Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth, Will and all at Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

May 2021 Newsletter

HELLO

A warm welcome back to our Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter. Thank you so much for supporting our campaign.

This month has seen…

  • A set-back to progress on regeneration of the meadows. The proposed regenerative farmer has pulled out of taking on the tenancy as the Church Commissioners were unable to offer a workable solution to lifting the Bartonsham land parcels out of the former tenant’s Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Under the agreement, the former tenant signed up to retaining the meadows as permanent pasture. See below for details.
  • The first #FoBMSummer event! The litter-pick a couple of Sunday’s back was a great turn out and we made some solid progress on removing the plastic tree guards from the saplings across the Canary Bridge. A huge thanks to everyone who came along and took part. We also raised a generous £35 from attendees – thank you for supporting us!
  • We’re delighted to welcome onto the committee two key new members. Gareth Dart has agreed to become our secretary and Dick Jones joins us as treasurer. Big thanks to them both for being willing to get stuck in and support our progress towards constituting as a democratic community association.
  • Published an interactive map showing the potential regeneration of the site developed by Rhys Ward here.
  • The results are out! We’ve compiled the results of our current usage survey – thanks to the everyone who contributed – check out our infographic below.
LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE

Kate Bradshaw, who farms regeneratively at Tan House Farm, Upton Bishop, Ross-on-Wye www.attanhousefarm.co.uk negotiated with the Church Commissioners’s land agent to take on a five year tenancy at Bartonsham Meadows. The agreement included reseeding with a biodiverse grass sward, running a herd of traditional Hereford cattle, managing the land regeneratively to increase soil health via livestock grazing, without pesticides and artificial fertilisers, and introducing a 100% pasture-fed beef box scheme for local residents.

Kate withdrew from the tenancy negotiations when the Church Commissioners were unwilling to put in train the removal of the Bartonsham land parcels from the former tenant’s (Matthews’ family) Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Natural England, who run the scheme, are able to take out sanctions in the event of a breach and require the return of monies paid if an agreement is breached - for example when permanent pasture is ploughed up.

Kate said, ‘I am committed to regenerative farming practices and producing 100% pasture-fed beef and hogget. I was excited about the potential to restore the Meadows to their former glory with traditional Hereford cattle within sight of the Cathedral. I was also planning to relocate the soon-to-be decommissioned scout hut as a farm shop and education hub at the heart of the Meadows and its community. But in the end, I felt it was better for me to step aside from the potential liability of a breached subsidy scheme which could prejudice any future applications to the same funds.’

The 5 year Countryside Stewardship Scheme has a further 18 months to run and was entered into by the Matthews family who recently relinquished farming management of the land.

Any future tenant who wishes to apply for Stewardship would need to do so based on the reality of the meadows today, not what they were formerly, which is why the current agreement needs to be discontinued before any further changes to the land are made.

We spoke with the Church Commissioners this week to follow up after Kate’s exit from the negotiations. They have registered the land as fallow as part of their Basic Payment Scheme application and intend to reseed at the earliest opportunity.

The Church Commissioners have confirmed their intention to revert the land to pasture and manage it in an environmentally positive way. We have repeated our position that ploughing, spraying and using artificial fertiliser is not the way to restore the Meadows, especially due to the proximity to the River Wye - already heavily polluted with industrial farming residue. After the recent excessive rainfall during May, the Wye is exceptionally high for the time of year with a possible flood risk.
By Christine Earl

FRIENDS OF BARTONSHAM MEADOWS HAVE…

  • Secured the support of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust to manage the land if they were granted a minimum 25-year lease
  • Secured the backing of the council to explore purchasing the land on behalf of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust
  • Secured the backing of the Bishop of Hereford, the local MP Jesse Norman, the local church of St Paul’s and St James’, and the local Eco Church
  • Secured the support and advice of such expert groups in floodplain management as the Floodplain Meadows Partnership
  • Collected data from local residents that demonstrates the extensive use of the meadows, a natural asset cherished all the more due to the Covid-restrictions of the last year and a half
  • Secured the support of 189 people with whom we share these monthly newsletters, plus regular social media updates

Friends of Bartonsham Meadows are continuing to make the case for the long-term benefits that could be realised by a floodplain meadows restoration plan:

  • Carbon sequestration
  • Natural flood defences
  • Biodiversity
  • Improved river water quality and protection
  • Contribute to the health and wellbeing of Hereford’s population
  • Sustainable agriculture and food production

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust has the support of a consortium of advisory groups including the Floodplain Meadows Partnership, Herefordshire Meadows, and the Plantfed Livestock Association who are all perfectly positioned to advise on a visionary restoration programme.

The current state of the meadows is dire. Some areas do not have plant cover due to flood damage (making the meadows vulnerable to further topsoil erosion), most coverage is self-seeded crop that is not being grown for harvest, and the rest has gone to weed including large swathes of docks.

FRIENDS OF BARTONSHAM MEADOWS ARE DETERMINED TO PRESS THE CASE FOR FULLY FUNDED, LONG-TERM AND VISIONARY RESTORATION.

SCOUT HUT

In February 2021, the Church Commissioners sold off the farm buildings and all land above flood-level, to the outgoing tenant, a decision that makes the land difficult to manage for any new grazier tenant, who would need a shelter for animals and the storage of fodder. FoBM has also highlighted the need for office and meeting space. When the Scouts construct their new facility in 2022, their present hut is planned to be demolished. The Scouts are amenable to the idea of giving it a new lease of life if it can be relocated to a new site. The options are few as we would like to keep it in the area, if possible to serve the Meadows in some way. If you think you can help, please get in touch.

KISSING GATE

The kissing gate on the public footpath across the Meadows shortly before you reach Outfall Works Road has twice been damaged by floods since Feb 2020. This is to be replaced by a simple self-closing gate resituated higher up by the road itself and the badly eroded path at this point will be made good. We are aware how hazardous it is at the moment.

INTERACTIVE MAP

Rhys Ward, final year undergraduate at the University of the West of England, has developed a state of the art interactive map to demonstrate what restoration could look like.

“May flowers in the meadows” Elaine Underwood

UPCOMING EVENTS

The next event on our summer line-up is the Himalayan Balsam Bashing event: Join us for an overdue active summer project to rip away the Himalayan Balsam from the river bank to prevent any further damage to other plant life. Himilayan balsam takes over our native flora and leaves river banks exposed to erosion. Help us pull out as much as we can! Eventbrite registration is now open, book using the link below.
Next up will be the Wildflower Walk with Plant ID in July… look out for more details soon!

WE NEED YOUR HELP MORE THAN EVER. PLEASE:

  • Join our summer events
  • Send us your images of the meadows
  • Share this newsletter widely
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here
  • Make a donation to keep our project going here

Best wishes,

Ruth, Chloe and all at Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

April 2021 Newsletter

HELLO

A warm welcome back to our Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter. Thank you so much for supporting our campaign.

This month we have…

  • Contributed an update at Hereford Civic Society’s online event on 15th April. You can see Ruth’s update on our YouTube channel here
  • Drawn up a constitution to formalise our Friends group as a community association to help facilitate positive environmental change. People signed up to this newsletter are our ‘supporter tier’ – folks who like to hear our updates, hear about volunteering opportunities, attend public meetings and generally support the project. We’ll create a member-tier for those who are able to financially support us through an annual donation to the group.
  • Planned a raft of summer events! See below for more details.
  • Started removing the plastic tree guards from the saplings across the Canary Bridge. More details below for how you can help!
“Lots of lovely cuckoo flowers in the meadows at the moment. Orange tip butterflies like to lay their eggs in them.” Elaine Underwood

OUR SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS…

  • 204 of you have had your say and responded to our survey so far, thank you so much!
  • You all seem to use the meadows fairly regularly, with the most popular frequency falling between daily, 2-4 times a week and weekly.
  • 20% of those who responded swim in the Wye from the meadows, mostly seasonally… although we see you brave 6 who still swim weekly.
  • 40% of you are regular dog walkers.
  • The most popular footpath along the meadows is the footpath running past the river (96%), shortly followed by Green Street to Canary Bridge (91%).
  • 50% of you use the meadows to socialise.
  • 3.5% of you use the meadows to commute to work.

There were countless responses which shared our vision for the future of the meadows.

“The Bassom from a coracle in the evening” Pete Reading
LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE...

A suitable regenerative land management system has yet to be put in place for the meadows but we’re continuing to support negotiations between the land agent and the prospective tenant farmer.

We understand they’re moving ahead but more slowly than we had hoped, due to one specific open issue, currently with the land agent to resolve.

Subject to reaching an agreement, the in-coming tenant farmer manages her land regeneratively and is committed to the use of grazing livestock to restore the meadows.
Hereford Wildlife Trust continues to help enormously in supporting our efforts to find the right solution for restoration. 

The office of Jesse Norman MP has been actively communicating our longer-term vision for restoration to the Church Commissioners.

UPCOMING EVENTS…

  • We’ve started planning loads of summer events, and are delighted to share an outline below. More info to come in separate emails so keep an eye out and save the dates! All events will be free with the option to donate on Eventbrite.
  • Litter-pick: A wholesome afternoon of litter-picking in the fields – we hope to have power in numbers! Equipment provided but if you’ve got your own pickers, feel free to bring them along.
  • Wildflower walk: A Wildflower walk around the meadows. Join ecologist Anna Gundrey and others to help compile a botanical species list for the meadows and river bank, whilst picking up plant ID tips along the way. 
  • 24 Hour Bioblitz: How many animal and plant species can we record in a 24-hour period? This will be an informal and fun event for all the family to create a snapshot of the multitude of life that is present on Bartonsham Meadows. The event will include a dawn bird walk, a dusk bat survey and much more in between. 
  • Himalayan Balsam Bashing: Join us for an overdue active summer project to rip away the Himalayan Balsam from the river bank to prevent any further damage to other plantlife. 

We’re also plotting some river events and a walk with the Civic Society too…

PARAMEDIC WHO HIGHLIGHTED THE MEADOWS' HIDDEN ARCHAEOLOGY...

Friends of Bartonsham Meadows would like to add their condolences to Dawn Daw and her family over the loss of husband Jeremy ‘Jack’ Daw, the Hereford paramedic killed in an ambulance accident at Moreton on Lugg recently.

In her tribute Hereford Mayor Cllr Kath Hay recalls how Jack’s metal detecting skills helped uncover a hoard of Roman coins near Kimbolton in 2013. Jack was also an enthusiastic conservator of metal mileposts and, according to archaeologist Tim Hoverd, was currently restoring the Byford Milepost.

FoBM also recalls his 2019 discovery of a stock of lead musket balls, which, he believed, dated back to the Civil War. Found on the south east side of the Meadows, a site consistent with keeping leadwork downwind from the troops’ camp, Jack’s find emphasises the archaeological importance of Bartonsham Meadows.

Jack, who was raised in Whitecross (his parents ran the Britannia in Cotterell Street until the late 1960s) had planned to share his finds with Bartonsham History Group after the lockdown. He will be sadly missed.
 
 - Bill Laws
Jeremy ‘Jack’ Daw. Image sourced via @YourHerefordshire

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: COMMITTEE ROLES…

We need your support to pursue this project for the restoration of Bartonsham Farm to species-rich floodplain meadow.

  • We need you! Would you like to join our committee as treasurer or secretary as we move towards formalising ourselves as a community association? If so please get in touch.

If that’s not your cup of tea there are a host of other ways to help. 

  • Join us at our summer events.
  • There’s an informal push to continue to remove the plastic tree guards on the far side of Canary Bridge – got an hour or so this Saturday afternoon?  Ping us an email for details. We’ll be meeting at 4pm on the east side of Canary Bridge. Litter pickers provided.
  • We value your images and footage of the meadows to both keep a record of the land and for use on social media. Please continue to share with us.
  • Do share this newsletter with people you think could support us.
  • Consider becoming a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here.
  • Consider making a donation to keep our project going. Help us make the case for this vital green space here link to page on website – currently in a sorry state [I’ll try and get some fresh pics].

Get in touch with feedback and ideas via email or social media.


All the best

Ruth, Chloe and Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

March 2021 Newsletter

HELLO

A warm welcome back to our Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter. Thank you so much for supporting our campaign.
This month we have…

  • Discussed the short and long-term management of the land with the Church Commissioners and their agents.
  • Secured the support of the leader of Hereford Council, David Hitchener and his chief financial officer.
  • Walked the site with the land agent, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, and a potential organic grazier.
  • Presented our vision to the Rt Rev Richard Jackson, Bishop of Hereford, who has undertaken to support our project by engaging with the Church Commissioners.
  • Liaised with Jesse Norman MP to write to the Church Commissioners on our behalf.
  • Opened a survey on current land usage which has had an amazing 177 responses. More details on the responses below!
  • Drafted a constitution to consolidate our organisational structure.
  • ontinued to share all of your wonderful pictures, videos and related events.
Credit: Julia Goldsmith. (Read on to find out more about her photography!)

LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE…

The Church Commissioners would like to arrange a short-term contract to manage the land through a grazing regime. This would involve seeding the land as soon as possible, allowing the sward to establish which would take around a year, then grazing the land. The Church Commissioners have again confirmed the land will not be built on or put to arable.

The Church Commissioners have agreed to be advised by the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust on an appropriate seed mix for the site. We have lobbied against an intensive grazing regime with a mono-rye grass culture. They have assured us that they will not use glyphosate before seeding the land and will utilise what existing sward there is. We have also asked them not to plough but to drill seed with light gauge machinery.

We are continuing to present the case for a long-term land management solution to restore the meadows to traditionally managed wildflower floodplain meadow which would secure carbon sequestration and flood mitigation.

Credit: Ruth Westoby
INITIAL SURVEY RESULTS... 

We opened a survey to capture current land use and enjoyment. Thank you to the 177 people who have filled it in!

The survey remains open - please take five minutes to fill it in if you have not already, and share widely. The survey is available here.

Results highlights - of the 177 respondents 80% of you visit the meadows at least weekly and 40% of you are dog walkers.

We anticipated our consultation on future use of the meadows with an option to tell us what you’d like to see - there was an overwhelming thirst for sustainable land management, as an educational resource, community space,  including lots of wildflowers and indeed wild swimming!

We are developing a comprehensive consultation on future use of the meadows. Get in touch if there are particular options you’d like to see included in the future use survey.

SHOUT-OUT TO OUR SUPPORTERS…

It’s brilliant that so many of you share our vision for this space. We are working hard to ensure this can be made possible for the future of Bartonsham Meadows, and it wouldn’t be possible without your encouragement. Thank you, let’s keep going!

None of this would be possible without the tireless support of local experts, representatives and advisors – especially the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust. We are not a membership organisation but they are – please consider joining them to enable them to continue to support projects such as this and work for wildlife throughout the county.

 Credit: Julia Goldsmith.

The photographer Julia Goldsmith has shared her stunning images of the meadows and flood aftermath. About Julia:

I have been photographing the after effects of the two recent floods, including lost objects and rubbish which have re-surfaced and been deposited back onto the land. I am drawn to the chaotic nature of the river banks and what’s left behind as the man-made and natural co-exist. I have started to capture some of the objects in isolation.
UPCOMING EVENTS...

We will be contributing a project update at Hereford Civic Society’s online event on 15th April. Details to be shared on our social media in due course.

We hope to collaborate with the Friends of the Upper Wye and George Monbiot’s forthcoming documentary ‘Rivercide’.

Bartonsham History Group and the Civic Society are hatching plans for a Summer meadows walk.

Presentation on digital mapping (April 15th): David Lovelace, well known landscape historian and digital mapping expert will explain how he is realising his ambition to create a landscape mapping tool - free at the point of use, to enable anyone who needs the facility to access digital (historic up to the present) maps of the city and surrounding parishes. Stay tuned for more details.
“This wash off has to be a result arable crops on a flood plain.” Christine Earl

INTRODUCING…

We were delighted to meet with Friends of the Upper Wye and hope to work with them on citizen science projects.

About Friends of the Upper Wye

“We’re Friends of the Upper Wye – a grassroots community group that has formed to protect and champion the Upper Wye, covering the area from the Wye’s source on Plynlimon in mid-Wales to its confluence with the Lugg at Mordiford, Herefordshire. 

There is a paucity of data about the state of the Wye and an urgent need for more regular monitoring at many more locations. With support from Cardiff University, the Environment Agency and the Wye and Usk Foundation, the Friends of the Upper Wye are now designing a citizen science programme to monitor water quality. They hope that people power can help to fill the data gap and compliment the monitoring work being done by Natural Resources Wales and the Environment Agency. They’re looking to recruit volunteers who live near the Upper Wye, or a stream or brook which feeds into it, and who are willing to regularly monitor their local patch.

Whilst the citizen science programme aims to expand scientific knowledge of the Upper Wye and its tributaries, the group is simultaneously launching an arts project to celebrate and elevate the cultural importance of the Wye. Eamon Bourke dreamed up CodwchYrAfon / LiftTheRiver and is inviting people to submit ‘river samples’ which could take any form one can imagine, be that memories, photos, poems, paintings, songs or something else.

A third strand of the Friends of the Upper Wye is exploring the idea of applying for designated bathing water status for The Warren at Hay-on-Wye, following the success of campaigners in Ilkley whose efforts led to a section of the Wharfe becoming the first river in the UK to achieve this status.”

Nicola Cutcher

www.fouw.org.uk

NOT CONVINCED?

Geek out on the incredible benefits and science behind floodplain meadow restoration through the awesome resources of the Floodplain Meadows Partnership: 
http://www.floodplainmeadows.org.uk/

IF YOU SHARE THE VISION FOR SPECIE-RICH FLOODPLAIN MEADOW AT BARTONSHAM, PLEASE COULD YOU…

  • Record images and footage of the meadow, and share with us to keep a record and for use on social media
  • Share this newsletter with friends, family and anyone who could support us
  • Encourage friends to sign up to our mailing list and our social media feeds
  • Consider becoming a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust Consider making a donation to our campaign here
  • Get in touch with feedback and ideas via email or social media

All the best

Ruth, Chloe and Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

February 2021 Newsletter

HELLO

A warm welcome back to our Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter. Thank you so much for supporting our campaign.

Last night flood warnings were issued for the Wye which is a pollution concern as the meadows appear to have been sprayed recently. Please take care.

This month…

  • We were informed by the Church Commissioners (the landowners) that the farm house, buildings, and higher paddock have been sold.
  • The Church Commissioners invited us to partner with a grazier who shares our vision on an annual basis.
  • We wrote a land management proposal for the Church Commissioners that sets out a vision for long term restoration of the meadows to species-rich floodplain management.
  • We reached out, with Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, to potential grazing partners through the Hereford Green Network. 
  • We have shared our management plan for the long term transformation of the meadows with Hereford Council, Jesse Norman MP, and the Bishop of Hereford.
  • We have continued to share all of your wonderful pictures, videos and related events.
  • Reached 100 followers on Instagram and in our Facebook group! Thanks for the support, if you haven’t yet, you can follow us here for Instagram and here on Facebook.

UPCOMING PLANS…

  • We’ve got an exciting feature on a Virtual Tour of the Meadows this coming Tuesday (7:30pm) with Bartonsham History Group. Featuring a full bridge-to-bridge tour, discover hidden historical nuggets and an update on the meadows from us at FOBM. See the flyer below and email web@bartonshamhistory.org.uk to register. 
  • We have further meetings scheduled over the next few weeks with the Church Commissioners and Hereford Council.
  • We’re continuing to develop our campaign and communication strategy for 2021. Shout out any suggestions or ways in which you could help us.

We are always keen to support similar initiatives in the area. Here’s a list of events (and one TV programme) that might be of interest to you coming up in March…

  • 2nd March 10am-1pm: Towards Net Zero Using Nature Based Solutions in Floodplains  – “The aim of this workshop will be to invite senior and informed speakers and participants to debate how we can optimise land use in floodplains to deliver nature based solutions to flood risk and diffuse pollution, the loss of biodiversity and human health crises.”  Contact Olivia Nelson to attend Olivia.nelson@open.ac.uk   
  • 3rd March 1pm-1:30pm: Say Yes to Life: The Forgotten Problem – with Ruth Valerio “What does it mean to be human? What is our relationship with the world that we live in? What does our future look like?” Book here
  • 17th March: Herefordshire Wildlife Trust City Branch Talk: Putting Herefordshire’s Wildlife into Recover: What do we need to do to create a county rich in wildlife? Nature Recovery Networks, Biodiversity Net Gain and the 30 by 30 campaign. Book here
  • Available online now: Joanna Lumley’s Home Sweet Home Episode 3 includes a clip about a former dairy farm that has been re-wilded. 
Credit: Lisa Stevens

AS ALWAYS, PLEASE COULD YOU…

  • Record images and footage of the meadow, and share with us to keep a record and for use on social media.
  • Share this newsletter with friends, family and anyone who could support us.
  • Encourage friends to sign up to our mailing list and our social media feeds.
  • Consider becoming a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.
  • Consider making a donation to our campaign here .
  • Get in touch with feedback and ideas via email or social media

All the best

Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

January 2021 Newsletter

HELLO

Firstly, if you’re new here (and we’ve had a few new sign-ups, up to 135 of you!) – a very warm welcome to Friends of Bartonsham Meadows. Thank you so much for choosing to support our campaign.

It’s been a busy month:

  • We’ve spoken again with the land-owners, the Church Commissioners, alongside Herefordshire Wildlife Trust. We have set out our vision for how the land could be managed to transform it from intensive agriculture to outstanding natural habitat delivering broad social and environmental public goods. Our proposal centres biodiversity and regenerative land-management practices which we are endeavouring to establish on a long-term basis.
  • Herefordshire Wildlife Trust City Branch kindly hosted a presentation about our project on Thursday 21 January. We were blown away by the turn out – a total of 64 of you! Thank you to everyone who came along. If you were unable to join us, you can view the recording of the presentation here.
  • Anna Gundrey, Charlie Arthur and Ruth Westoby were interviewed by Nicola Goodwin of BBC Hereford & Worcester Radio which was broadcast Monday 18th January. Here is the recording. The interview and topic post on their Facebook page received some great feedback and lots of support which was really great to see. 
  • Working group member and consultant ecologist Anna Gundrey has written a wonderful piece on the environmental case for a floodplain meadow at Bartonsham. It will be up on our website soon, but you can also read it here.

Of course, we’ve also been keeping our eye on the floods and the snow this month, see below some of the images we’ve gathered.. a huge thank you to the contributors!

Credit: Will Steel
Credit: Christine Earl
Credit: Elaine Underwood
Credit: Anne Dodwell

UPCOMING PLANS…

We’ve been consulting with our working group on our 2021 priorities and strategy. If you would like to feed into this process please email us with suggestions for us to work on and any ways in which you could offer support through volunteering your time or expertise, or making a financial donation.

From our online event with Hereford Wildlife Trust.

AS ALWAYS, PLEASE COULD YOU…

  • Keep sending us your images and footage of the meadow, so we can keep a record and for use on social media.
  • Share this newsletter with friends, family and anyone who could support us.
  • Encourage friends to sign up to our mailing list and our social media feeds.
  • Consider becoming a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.
  • Get in touch with feedback and ideas via email or social media.

All the best

Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

A PDF Version of this newsletter can be downloaded here

December 2020 Newsletter

HELLO

Thank you for supporting positive ecological management of Bartonsham Meadows.

This month we have:

  • Continued our discussions (online)with the Church Commissioners, with our next discussion scheduled for mid-January
  • Improved our Stronger Towns Fund bid, lead by Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, and re-submitted it to the board
  • Presented (Ruth) to the Community Association (online) introducing our project and giving an update on progress
  • Planned to gather our finest ecology heads together for a walk-round and assessment of the state of the meadows with a focus on wildlife populations
  • Reached 100 supporters!

COMING UP IN THE NEW YEAR…

We’re excited to have an online introductory event in January. Herefordshire Wildlife Trust City Branch are kindly hosting us to give a presentation about our project. There’ll be short talks from Andrew Nixon (Herefordshire Wildlife Trust), Anna Gundrey (ecology consultant), Bill Laws (historian), Ruth Westoby (FOBM convenor) and plenty of time for Q&A.

It will take place on 21st January at 7pm – sign up below! It would be great if you could spread the word and join us.

PLEASE COULD YOU…

  • Record images and footage of the meadows, especially now the floods are up, and share with us to keep a record and for use on social media
  • Donate to help our project grow (get in touch if you would like to make a donation)
  • Encourage friends to sign up to our mailing list
  • Consider joining Herefordshire Wildlife Trust
  • Get in touch with feedback and ideas

This project has only been kicked around since February 2020 and since then we have been bowled over by the encouragement, engagement and support it’s received. In the teeth of an extraordinary and difficult year it has felt important and powerful to get active for positive change right on our doorstep. We’re so grateful for the generous donations which have enabled us to cover costs and develop the project. A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us, got involved and enabled this project to get off to such an awesome start.

Wishing you a peaceful 2021,

Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

November 2020 Newsletter

Hello

I hope this newsletter finds you well. Thanks for your continued support of our grassroots project.

This month we have

  • Discussed our vision with Jesse Norman MP alongside Jeremy Milln, Councillor for Hereford Central Ward, and Andrew Nixon, Senior Reserves Manager, Hereford Wildlife Trust
  • Submitted a speculative funding pitch to the Stronger Town Fund
  • Maintained contact with the Church Commissioners, owners of Bartonsham Farm
  • Hit a record 89 registered supporters
  • Continued to talk with potential partners organisations

Please look out for

  • Our blog on the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust site https://www.herefordshirewt.org/blog/friends-bartonsham-meadows/introducing-friends-bartonsham-meadows
  • An online information session with Herefordshire Wildlife Trust City Branch in January 2021
  • Possible media coverage!

Please could you

  • Share this newsletter with friends and family
  • Send us images, film clips and recollections of what the Meadows mean to you for us to use on our social media
  • Consider joining Herefordshire Wildlife Trust (Ruth – convenor – has just asked for membership as a birthday present!)
  • Get in touch with feedback and ideas

All the best

Friends of Bartonsham Meadows