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