Following the £5,000 grant DEF awarded to the community meadow restoration scheme, Moor Meadows, to build on its Dartmoor success by sharing best practice, we have received an impact update…
- Moor Meadows was delighted to receive a £5,000 grant from the Devon Environment Foundation in October 2020.
- This seed money was for expanding activities across Devon.
- The target of creating a new online Meadow-Makers’ Forum has been achieved and awareness has been created through a series of online talks, a regional press
campaign and building closer relationships with Devon’s conservation organisations.
- The bulk of the grant, £4,000, was used to employ a Project Officer, £500 went on PR and the remaining £500 on technical help for the creation of the Meadow-Makers’ Forum.
- The Project Officer, Tracey Hamston, is an ecologist and her conservation background enabled Moor Meadows to make excellent progress in building relationships with Devon’s environmental organisations.
- They have supported this project by promoting it through newsletters,
blogs and social media, as they recognise the value in having a sustainable landowner network.
- Dan Smith, from Devon Wildlife Trust, was recruited to help with PR.
- There’s been four interviews on BBC Radio Devon and good coverage in the regional press.
- Attendees to the new online talks
- Number of members joining the Meadow-Makers’ Forum
- Number of local new groups formed
- Increases to membership of Moor Meadows
- Number of meadows added to the Meadows Map
- PR coverage
- Moor Meadows held two online talks with top speakers in January and February which were also used to promote the Forum.
- A third talk is lined up for the end of March.
- In the past, they ran talks in a hall with a maximum capacity of 200.
- The online talks enabled them to attract far bigger audiences.
- Jan: ‘The Garden Jungle: How to Save our Insects’ with Professor Dave
Goulson. This saw over 700 people register and raised nearly £1000
in donations. The income was used to keep on Tracey Hamston.
- Feb: ‘Why Meadows Matter’ with nature-writer broadcaster Stephen
Moss. They had over 450 register, attracting people from outside of Devon,
including from Switzerland, Denmark and California. They raised £550 in
donations and this is being used to keep the PR going.
- Mar: ‘How to Create a Meadow’ with Plantlife’s meadow adviser Matt
Pitts. It looks like interest in this will be extremely high too as registrations
are rolling in daily.
The Meadow-Makers’ Forum
- The Forum, the new Devon-wide meadows network, was launched in the New Year: www.moremeadows.org.uk.
- In just six weeks 227 people joined, 108 topics have been posted and there’s been 167 posts.
- Four new meadows groups have formed across Devon. The grant application target was for two groups.
- Tracey Hamston:
‘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’.
More Meadows West Devon
- Co-founded by former Grasslands Trust founder, Jon Valters. Jon manages a small nature reserve near St Giles on the Heath.
- He quoted, in a press release targeted at the local press in West Devon:
‘The idea is that people in West Devon and Torridge will be able to provide each other with support and advice on how to create or restore wildflower-rich grasslands with the aim of substantially increasing the number of wildflower meadows in this part of Devon…. some members of the new group have already come forward with projects including a proposal to create wildflower verges in their village. We are also keen to help people who wish to create smaller areas of wildflower grasslands in their gardens or local churchyard.’
- The new More Meadows group for the Yealm valley has been founded by local nature enthusiasts concerned about ongoing wildlife declines but inspired by efforts to create more wildlife-friendly habitats.
- One of the meadow makers in this group, Liz Trotman, said:
‘It is so satisfying to see the tangible results of an increasingly species-rich
meadow. The thrum of the insects on a quiet, sunny afternoon while swallows and house martins hunt for food, then later a barn owl at dusk quartering the meadow as it looks for voles in the long grass… To meet, even when only online, and discuss with other meadow makers makes a huge difference’.
- 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 said:
‘The Meadow-Makers’ forum is an amazing space, a valuable resource of information for all who join’.
- Potential meadow-makers in East Devon joining the new More Meadows group also have an opportunity to help one of England’s rarest animals and receive free land management advice at the same time.
- The grey long-eared bat preys on moths and other insects, so wildflower-rich meadows provide ideal foraging habitat.
- A new project led by East Devon AONB and Bat Conservation Trust is focused on securing the future for this rare species.
Moor Meadows are also continuing to work hard to establish new groups in South Devon, North Devon, Exmoor and beyond.
The first 1000th acre press release has boosted interest in the Dartmoor group and we’ve seen many new members join our email exchange and 48 people join our events list.
The Meadows Map shows the locations of meadows on Dartmoor, and now also within Devon as a whole.
There are currently 949 acres mapped on Dartmoor and 220 acres outside the National Park.
An encouraging 81 acres of new meadows have been added since the launch of the Forum.
PR and Press Campaign
- A general press release about the project attracted two BBC Radio interviews (Donna Cox and Tracey Hamson) and the full release was printed on the front page of The Moorlander.
- We do not have the funds for a press clipping service so we may have had more coverage than we know about.
- A targeted release about the formation of a new West Devon group was picked up by BBC Radio Devon and Jon Valters co-founder of the new group was interviewed.
- The release was published in the Okehampton Times and Tavistock Gazette.
- Dave Goulson event PR was carried by BBC Radio Devon (Donna Cox interview)
- Miles King, long-standing nature conservationist and CEO & founder of charity People Need Nature, who blogs at A New Nature Blog has offered More Meadows a guest blog post.
- Stephen Moss event PR was carried on the website of The Countryman magazine (and they tweeted about it):
- Moor Meadows will feature in the Dartmoor Magazine Spring edition, on 1 March, this will be based around the initial press release.
- Countryfile magazine are very interested in running an article/photo shoot for summer filming.
Conservation Organisation relationships
To promote the forum and support the formation of new groups, Tracey has contacted around
• 40 individuals
• 15 organisations across Devon
• Attended a number of group meetings to promote More Meadows and the forum
Exmoor National Park Authority
Communities, Avon Valley Project
Pasture for Life – Pasture-Fed Livestock Association
Blackdown AONB – various projects incl. Blackdown Hills Farming and
South Devon AONB
East Devon AONB
Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG)
Devon Biodiversity Records Centre
North Devon Biosphere – Pledge for Nature
Devon Wildlife Trust – various projects and staff across Devon – incl. Conservation
The DWT have several catchments across Devon where they are starting to work with landowners on grassland restoration. Many of these correspond to places we are keen to see Meadows groups. So there is a good potential for overlap and getting some funded restoration for MM landowners via this scheme
Some Quotes about the Meadow-Makers’ Forum from above organisations:
‘This looks like an amazing resource! This is certainly something that I would be happy to push to our landowners.’ – Devon Wildlife Trust
‘I’ve been meaning to reach out and congratulate you on the forum! It looks great and I’ve enjoyed seeing it get up and running.’ Pasture for Life Association (PFLA)
‘Congratulations on the live web portal. I have put the link on our website to promote to our meadow makers.’ South Devon AONB
‘I have just had a chance to sign up to the forum and it looks amazing….I have put a link on the front page of our website and will make it more prominent for the launch’ – MoreMeadows forum – Goren Farm Seeds
We are delighted by the response to our three and a half months worth of effort (November to mid Feb) and feel this is only the beginning.
Many thanks to the Devon Environment Foundation for providing the seed money to get us started on this exciting venture. Our plan is to continue to develop the Forum, to provide more inspiring talks in order to reach a wider audience, provide inspiration
to aspiring meadow makers, plus it’s a valuable income stream. We will support the formation of new groups, continue with PR and launch Devon Open Meadows, Covid permitting.
Chair, Moor Meadows
Find out more here: www.moormeadows.org