FAIRY MEADOW FUND

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Can you help us find land for our first Fairy Meadow ?

(download a pdf of this post here)

The Fairyland Trust has raised £20,000 over recent years for the ‘Fairy Meadow Fund’ .  Our idea is to buy some land which is currently low in wildlife value and convert it into a ‘meadow’ by resowing it with native wildflowers.

Why ?  Because 97% of our traditional lowland meadows have been lost, and once common flowers, bees, butterflies and birds are in huge decline thanks to intensive farming practices.  This makes it much harder for families to find a places where children can explore nature, or even for a picnic in a pleasant meadow.  The core mission of the Fairyland Trust is to introduce young children to nature, something which over 85% of adults agree is ‘vital’.

The £20k will have to cover all the associated costs at least of acquiring and initially securing the land so we may have about £12k to purchase land although additional fundraising is possible if we find a compelling site.

The Trust is well known for creating Magical Workshops through which children can learn about nature in a creative and imaginative way, using authentic British nature-based folklore (see those for Hire here).  It also runs the Fairy Fairs (last held at Sennowe Park in May 2016 – see this short video ) and The Real Halloween (this year at Holt Hall, October 29th and 30th).  It sends travelling workshops all over the country and the events attract visitors from across the UK.  The Trust is based in Norfolk and most of its Supporters and many of its 6,000 followers live here so we are first looking for a Norfolk site.

These funds have been raised by small voluntary fundraising activities, donations of ‘wages’ from the crew working at events and from a contribution on the ticket price paid by visitors to the events, for which we receive no grant aid or sponsorship.

What It Will Be Like and The Sort of Place We Need 

The idea is to create a quiet and pleasant place for families to visit, enjoy some nature, and for example, to picnic.  It’s not intended as an event site but would need to be reasonably accessible. Unless it is within walking distance of housing, or a bus or train route, many people are likely to visit by car.  This means that so being near to some sort of parking, or with scope to cheaply create on-site parking (and where this is not likely to be a planning issue), would be important.  Having a nice view or aspect is important and sloping land would be great for picnics and taking in the scenery.

While fens, marshes and damp meadows can also be full of flowers, naturally well drained land, with an open aspect, would be ideal.  Some hard-standing would also be an advantage.

The best soil type would be nutrient poor as that allows a greater diversity of flowers to live alongside one another but we would be open to buying farmland, and then spend some year trying to reduce the fertility.

Finally, for reasons of making good on our promise to donors it is essential to us that we can end up owning the land in perpetuity, so we are not considering leases or licences for land, only purchase.

Once We Find Some Land …

Any suggestions as to how to increase our purchasing power by grant aid / adding extra funding to the project would be very welcome.  A site where a landowner was willing to sell more adjacent land in future would be ideal.

Offers of contributions as technical help in-kind are also very welcome, both to deal with land search and purchase (eg Land Agents, Estate Agents, Solicitors), and in planning and management of the site.

The Trust would also be happy to collaborate with a landowner who has an adjacent site which The Fairy Meadow could complement, for example a nature reserve which has more restrictive access due to high nature value.  Our intention is to create something with increased nature value but which is robust to allow visitor use.  The degree of final public access and the type of management would be site dependent.

If you think you can help please contact:  Chris Rose chris@fairylandtrust.org    Tel:  01328 711526. 12 Jolly Sailor Yard, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, NR23 1LA    

Please do not suggest land to look at unless you first establish that the land is for sale, or you first contact the landowner and confirm that s/he would consider selling it to the Trust.

Thank you !

Chris Rose  October 2016

******************************** previous news below *********************************

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June 30th 2016- Great news !  We have raised our first £20,000.

The Appeal brought the Fund to £19,740 yesterday and then a generous anonymous donor stepped in and helped out with the rest.  Very many thanks to everyone who contributed !  Now we can start looking for our first piece of land to buy.

We’re not rushing into it but if you have suggestions or would like to volunteer help with any aspect of the project, please contact Chris Rose, chris@fairylandtrust.org or write to him at Fairyland Trust, c/o 12 Jolly Sailor Yard, Wells Next the Sea, Norfolk. NR23 1LA.  We will post some more details about the sorts of sites we are most interested in due course.

Meanwhile please do add to the Fund with your donations as we’d love to buy the best bit of land possible and will have a lot to do getting it right for families, fairies and wildlife. Lastly, do get out and see some flower rich grasslands while they are at their best in the high summer.  See below for a list of places to visit.

crop bee on cornflower

PLACES TO VISIT

Warham Camp (chalk grassland) near Warham (NR23) in North Norfolk

Fritton Common (near Long Stratton NR15)

New Buckenham Common (NR16)

Ringstead Downs (chalk grassland, PE36)

Martin’s Meadows Suffolk

Houghton Meadows near St Ives, Cambridgeshire

Barford Woods and Meadows, Northamptonshire

Barton Hills, Bedfordshire (chalk downland, National Nature Reserve)

Best chalk downlands in the Chilterns

Arnold’s Meadow. Lincolnshire

List of 40 flower meadows in the UK (from Country Life) and similar from The Guardian (with link to pdf)

List of 12 (from The Telegraph)

Best places (Saga Holidays)

Urban meadow magic: meadows from City Planter

Muker in Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales

Links to meadows from Magnificent Meadows project

National Trust’s top five grasslands

More from Arkive (scroll down for their favourites)

Report on the state of Norfolk meadows


** Update June 2016 ** Thanks to visitors at the Fairy Fair and other donations we have reached £19,454, just £546 short of our initial target of £20,000 at which we will start using the Fund to look for some land to buy and develop as our first Fairy Meadow.  Many thanks to all who have helped so far !

Money raised for the Fairy Meadow Fund will be used to buy dull land and re-sow it with wildflowers to create new meadows where children can find and connect with nature. Our initial target is £20,000. Please help us reach it by making a donation now, using the text number or the Charities Aid Foundation ‘donate’ button below.
Donate to the Fairy Meadow Fund
Thanks!

** Update: November 2015 –   £16,685  ** Update: July 2015 — £14,000 mark.   To see some more wonderful wild flowers visit our blog Incredible Meadows**

You can help us create new wildflower meadows for bees and butterflies, and for families and children to picnic and play in, by supporting our Fairy Meadow Fund.

traditional hay meadow at Fritton Common

Above: a traditional hay meadow at Fritton Common with red clover, vital for bumble bees.  The Fairy Meadow Fund aims to create more such meadows.

For generations, a summer picnic was a natural opportunity for youngsters to discover butterflies, hear a grass-hopper, or to learn the names of wildflowers from parents or grandparents.  Yet did you know that 97% of the wildflower meadows that once covered much of lowland Britain have been lost to agricultural change and chemicals?  It has become hard for families even to find a traditional flower-filled meadow to have a picnic in.

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Picnickers on the old ramparts at Warham Camp – a beautiful Norfolk chalk grassland worth visiting in June and July to see flowers

 

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Spotted orchids and quaking grass on the ramparts of the Iron Age fort, Warham Camp

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Chalkhill Blue butterflies on Carline Thistles in August, Warham Camp

You can also read more about how to help by planting more wildflowers in your own garden, here.

If you like making (or eating!) cakes, then why not join Vicky Eyles and friends on Facebook who are making Fairy Cakes for Fairy Meadows?

p16 edp 1 8 14Fairy Cakes for Fairy Meadows

Carolyn Maya and Kitty eating cakes

Read about the Fairy Meadow Fund in this Eastern Daily Press story.

 

 

 

cowslip wishes

cowslip bloom 640

Above: Cowslips.  These are growing in a re-created meadow at Courtyard Farm in west Norfolk which is well worth a visit in April.  Such places show what can be done to bring more wildflowers back to our countryside ! 

They were once common, found in almost every pasture, and much associated with fairies. In William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the fairy Ariel says:

Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip’s bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough 

Indeed, so widespread were cowslips, that there were nearly 40 local names (read them in this blog on re-connecting children with nature by Chris Rose from the Fairyland Trust).  Not today: modern farming produces bright green grass-fields but has little place for wildflowers.  Like primroses, they have been lost from most of their traditional spots on roadside verges as a result of careless over-fertilization by chemical pollutants and ‘gang mowing’.   Yet with good care of our environment it is possible to bring cowslips back, along with many of our other missing wildflowers and the wildlife that depends on them.  Let’s do it.  Let’s make some new fairy meadows.

And I serve the Fairy Queen
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be.
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours;
In those freckles live their savours.
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear. 

Puck (or Robin Goodfellow, a fairy or mischevious spirit), in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. ‘Rubies’ and ‘freckles’ refers to the red marks on the cowslip petals, ‘pensioners’ to the attendants of the Queen of England who wore golden yellow jackets).

Copy of poppies in field adj warham camp

Poppies in the unsprayed margins of a field

wendlebury meads hay meadow 1 640 wendlebury meads hay meadow 2 640 Wendlebury Meads hay meadow 3 640 wendlebury meads hay meadow 4 640

Above: the subtle beauty of an ancient hay meadow at Wendlebury Meads near Oxford.  Such meadows once covered much of England as the hay was essential to feed horses before tractors were used.  Modern intensive artificial grasslands contain just a handful of species of plants but these are enormously rich in plants such as flowers, rushes, sedges and grasses and the animal life they sustain.  Starveall farm at Wendlebury contains ‘grassland’ that is thought be be a direct descendant of land cleared from the primeval Wildwood and the fields have 148 species of plants, at up to 45 different varieties per square metre.  No two patches are the same.  Such ‘grasslands’ are mainly not made of grass but flowers.

 

 

 

And I serve the Fairy Queen
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be.
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours;
In those freckles live their savours.
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear. – See more at: http://findingshakespeare.co.uk/%E2%80%9Ca-pearl-in-every-cowslips-ear%E2%80%9D#sthash.MaA53Jo7.dpuf

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