Long Mead has 28 acres of species-rich floodplain hay meadow of the type designated Meadow Foxtail –Great Burnet grassland, coded MG4 in the National Vegetation Classification. Only four square miles of MG4 wildflower meadow remain in the UK (imagine an area the size of Heathrow Airport, broken up into fragments and scattered across the country). Fortunately for us, a large proportion of this rare habitat lies along the Thames above Oxford in extraordinary Meads, such as Pixie Mead, Oxey Mead, Yarnton Mead, Cassington Mead, and Long Mead.
The Thames Valley Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project, set up by Long Mead in 2018 to raise the profile of the fast disappearing fragments of meadow that are left in our country. It aims to connect up these meadows by restoring or recreating the intervening meadows, thereby creating a continuous corridor of wildflower meadows for Oxfordshire. These meadows are local area’s bid to sequester carbon into the bargain (Multiple habitats like meadows, hedgerows,wetlands, peat bogs, and woodlands all sequester carbon and all are needed to stem the ecological crisis of biodiversity loss).
The restoration of Christ Church Meadows in the centre of Oxford by Long Mead in 2020 has led to it becoming a research site for the undergraduate course in Plant Sciences at Oxford University.
Meadow restoration came to Eynsham itself in 2020 because Eynsham villagers had expressed a strong desire for more wildflower meadows in the village itself in the consultation map that hung in the Market Garden and at the inaugural meeting. After long consultations with the Parish Council, St. Leonards Church, the Playing Fields Committee, and local neighbourhoods, 4 sites were agreed and the NRN applied for funding from the Trust for Oxfordshire Environment (TOE), who were disbursing offset funds from Grundon Waste Management Ltd. Our application was successful - with one important proviso - that in addition to the botanic surveys we had included in our plan, we also conduct a reptile survey in the Churchyard before we began in the expectation we would find protected species like slow worms.
The work to prepare new wildflower meadows in the village was a great success and was followed by a Nature Recovery Day to sow seed and plant fritilliary bulbs in the new meadows - an area totalling over 1.6 acres! Most recently the Beavers, led by Chris Baker, planted out rare wildflowers in the Churchyard- read about it here.