Carmarthenshire Meadows Steering Group

In late November 2016 a number of volunteers met for the first time to establish a “steering group” (SG), with the aim of further developing Carmarthenshire Meadows Group (CMG). The list below tells you a little bit about who we are, and hopefully demonstrates that we are an inclusive and diverse group of people, with a keen interest in raising the profile of the group, and spreading knowledge about wild flower meadows and related diversity in the county. Further SG discussions in March and May 2017 have produced a programme of events for 2017, and seen the adoption of a constitution and appointment of a Chairman and Treasurer, as well as establishing a formal paid up membership which as of May 2017 stands at 56.

See the separate webpage for how to become a member of the group. If you’d like to help the group develop, and be involved on the steering group, or just find out a bit more, then do get in touch with the current website administrator, Rachel, at website@carmarthenshiremeadows.coms1010012-2

Lynne... I have 23 acres of steep valley-side land bordering Brechfa Forest between Abergorlech and Llansawel. About 5 acres are woodland – mostly oak and holly – and the rest is rough pasture divided into six small fields. I have lived in this area since the seventies, starting with three acres near Salem, then a 7 acre property and eventually moved to my present home in 1998. For forty years I bred Arab horses and although I had not set out to create wild flower meadows, I was delighted to find that the grazing horses were soon followed by a wide range of wild flowers at each of the properties in turn. It was only in 2013, when the last of my old horses died, that I realised how important they had been in the creation and maintenance of the meadows and I have since been struggling to maintain my beloved valley.

Laurence … I am an ecologist – I have worked on a couple of nature reserves in the highlands and then Norfolk early on and then have done ecology consultancy for the past ten years. My wife and I managed to buy a 10 hectare farm nr Trelech in 2012, which we are running as a farm/nature reserve – i.e. we try to make it as productive as possible whilst also making it as biodiverse as possible. (Nature takes priority in forward planning though feeding animals sometimes takes priority in short term.) We have two meadows, one is established and diverse, one c.2 years old – 1.6 ha in total. Laurence currently administers the CMG Facebook Page.

Andrew and Helen …  We have lived at Dryslwyn on a 5 acre smallholding, since 2012.  We are trying to manage our small piece of countryside to be as biodiverse as possible, and are restoring two small (c. 1 acre each) fields as flower rich hay meadows.  We used to work in agricultural research, Helen on insect biodiversity of field margins and me mostly on bees.  We have been involved with the CMG since it began.  Andrew is the current chairman of CMG, and involved with the events planning subgroup.

Julian and Fiona … Julian and Fiona Wormald. Have owned what was a derelict house and an 11 acre smallholding with valley bottom/hill pastures since 1993, about 750 feet above sea level. Retired vet, both keen NGS gardeners who became really interested in insect: flower interactions in a garden context after first studying Carmarthenshire moths for many years. Within the last 5+ years we have been trying to restore floral diversity in about half our meadows, using sheep as co workers. Became involved with CMG after the initial email shot by Isabel in April 2015, and Julian currently manages the CMG website, and is involved with the events planning subgroup, as well as giving advice to members planning on hosting CMG meadows visits. Fiona takes minutes for the SG.

Rachel and Tony … Live near St Clears. It’s a mixed bag of a house about 150m above sea level that has been a cottage, a pub and a small scale farm.  We had an allotment in London and a garden – we wanted to create a wildflower meadow when we moved – only to find we had accidentally moved to one. We have woods, wet fields, hedges – and a work in progress garden (bee plants and edibles). We are working on creation of wood pasture and a grazing system that works both for the ponies we look after and the land.

Kate...  I work for West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre (WWBIC) one of four Local Environmental Record Centres (LERC) in Wales. My role involves getting species records in to the centre by liaising with recorders and recording groups.
I grew up on a hill farm in the Brecon Beacons and studied biology at Aberystwyth University. I now live with my husband and 2 year old son near Haverfordwest. I am interested in all aspects of biodiversity and farming.
I heard about CMG through Isabel and learnt more about it during a WWBIC recording day at Julian and Fiona’s small holding. The October meeting was the first I have attended. It was an interesting morning and a great opportunity for people to share experiences and ideas. Kate is involved with the events planning sub group.

Helen I am the Outreach Officer for Plantlife Cymru. My role is all about engaging people with Wales’s wild plants and fungi through events, projects, learning resources, social media, etc. I also offer support to meadows groups in Wales as well as encouraging new meadows groups to form. I’m hoping to learn from the continuing development of CM and share this with emerging meadows groups in Wales as well as offer the group support through e.g. organising visits to our Carmarthenshire reserve, etc.

Caroline and John … We are in the process of buying 7.7 acres of trees, tussock grass and many unwanted plants. It will be a challenging project as it has been completely neglected for many years. Caroline’s interest in nature and her dream of owning land started in early childhood and has continued to the present day. Her career path is varied, but was predominantly in research, including the botany department of Imperial College. John has an interest in photographing wildlife and in conservation. He is a chartered biologist and is a member of the Royal Society of Biology. John helps with membership administration.

Colin and Yvonne … We have owned our cottage with approx 1 hectare of field and garden near Ffarmers since 2006. The field is heavy wet clay dominated by rushes and an assortment of grasses including Purple Moor Grass. It has previously been abused by the dumping of clay subsoil on part of it compounded by serious poaching by horses. Annual cutting and clearing has resulted in a slow increase in other species such as wild Angelica, Meadowsweet, Knapweed and recently Yellow Rattle and Devil’s bit Scabious. Colin is the current treasurer of the group.

Nigel and Denise… We live in the property previously owned by former members of CMG, Dorian and Emma, near Rhydcymerau. The house stands in 25 acres and is about 1000 feet above sea level. It is a mixture of wild flower meadows, rough upland pasture, woodland (a lot of which has been only recently planted), wildlife ponds and a garden. Part of the land is a Special Site of Scientific Interest. We have four ponies grazing the land, two of whom are native Section A Welsh mountain ponies. Our aim is to continue encouraging biodiversity on our land and maintain its natural beauty using our ponies rather than machines. Nigel currently deals with publicity and communications for CMG. 

Isabel … Isabel had the idea for establishing a Carmarthenshire Meadows Group back in early 2015, and set up the initial public meeting at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in April 2015, and has organised all the early meetings of the group and currently advises the events planning sub group. She is the biodiversity officer for Carmarthenshire.

 Thanks for reading.