The Marches Meadow Group (MMG) was set up in 2015 by local residents with an interest in the management and conservation of wildflower rich hay meadows. Nationally 97% of species rich meadows were lost between 1930 and 1980 and, although some of the surviving meadows are now protected, losses have continued. Fortunately southwest Shropshire and neighbouring areas of Powys still have a sprinkling of these meadows, and MMG exists to support the owners of these meadows.
The Stiperstones and Corndon Hill Country Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS) helped to establish MMG and, using Heritage Lottery Fund monies, bought a range of hay-making machinery (tractor, trailer, mower, tedder and small round baler) for the use of MMG members. During the hay-making season the equipment is operated by a local contractor. Not all members make use of this service – some can make hay themselves and others use contractors or local farmers.
With the help of the LPS, MMG actively supports landowners who would like to increase the species richness of their grasslands. This can be achieved using seed or green hay from existing wildflower rich meadows. Green hay is cut when the meadow plant seeds are ripe but is immediately transported to, and spread on, the site to be enhanced. As the hay dries, the seeds drop out and, over time, germinate to establish new plants.
MMG organises visits, workshops and is involved in the Hay Festival organised by the LPS; in 2017 this is to be held on the field opposite The Bog Visitor Centre (SY5 0NG) on 24 June. MMG offers opportunities for physical activities such as scything and is also interested in management of roadside verges to promote their value for wild flowers. An MMG events leaflet can be obtained from the contact details given below.
MMG would welcome new members – anyone with an interest in traditional hay meadows, wildflowers or the wildlife associated with hay meadows would find our activities of interest. You don’t have to own a hay-meadow! MMG is also seeking a storage site for its hay-making equipment and members’ hay – if you have a suitable barn or out-building please get in touch.
Further information on MMG can be found on the LPS website at http://www.stiperstonesandcorndon.co.uk/meadow-1/ or by contacting the secretary Richard Small (01743 791476, firstname.lastname@example.org).
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