Turning words into action isn’t an easy job so we’ve jotted down some of the steps we took on the way in this diary. There were meetings, WhatsApps, deep thoughts, a little Googling, a lot of worrying and many queries amongst us all. But those would be far too time-consuming to share! However, before they disappear into the mists of time, this is a synopsis of some of the most practical steps taken in the creation of Lark Meadow.
Thanks to all the extra people who turned up to help us sow. A rough calculation shows there was about 60 hours of work to sow one hectare of land, spread amongst about eight people all of whom agreed it had been an incredibly positive experience.
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1 June: LANCET applies for a Megawatt Community Energy Fund Grant via the Quartet Community Foundation to create a community wildflower meadow on former cultivated land.
20 August: Thanks to Triodos Bank who expedited our application for a bank account swiftly and painlessly, LANCET now has a bank account.
19 July: We hear that our grant application has been successful. This is a Red Letter Day big-time!
1 September: We get in touch with Emorsgate to suss out what seed is available from this year’s harvest and get a quote. Our soil analysis indicates that the soil isn’t too fertile which is a good sign for trying to establish diverse species-rich grassland. Emorsgate source seed from a site not too far away so we’ve got locally-sourced seed which is fantastic.
13 September: The farmer says the soil is a light clay so after an email exchange with Emorsgate we go for EM 5 with a side order of cornfield annuals (EC1) to get a bright & colourful show in the first year.
14 September: The money from Quartet Foundation has arrived in our bank account.
23 September: Ordered and paid for seed from Emorsgate. HGV problems mean a potential 10 day wait for delivery but, luckily, our seed can be brought down from Norfolk to Bath for collection.
27 September: The farmer has prepared the field with a preliminary min till and the scale of the area becomes apparent. Some of us feel faint with tension. Since we need to sow at a rate of only 4 g a square meter to retain enough seed for the whole field, we need to work out the best way forward.
28 September: Collected seed from Emorsgate in pouring rain at the back of a pub. Three precious sacks: 40 kgs in total. Thanks to Quartet and Triodos, we managed to get our order paid and delivered just in time because the company has had to suspend sales since it has run out of some stock.
30 September: Recent heavy rain means we may not be able to sow the field after all. That will mean decanting the seed into air-tight containers and waiting ‘til spring to sow. Most websites, webinars and books say sowing in the autumn is best. It’s a roller-coaster ride.
5-7 October: bought kiln-dried sand to use as a base for sowing, bought a lot of string to help manage our rate of sowing and calculated an amount that could be easily carried in a bucket.
8 October: AM - The farmer spotted a weather window opening and the ground is dry enough for him to do a second min till on Lark Meadow.
PM - pegging out began to divide 10,000 square meters into 2m wide strips approx. 80 m long. Worked out a way that each person sowing could create temporary 2 x metre wide strips and 2 x metre lengths using lengths of bamboo that could be lifted and moved easily.
9 October: First day of sowing. Turned out to be hot & bright with a breeze every now and then. As we'd expected, sowing seed is a skill and we were just beginners. By the end of the day, we were hot and tired but had accomplished a fair bit. There was, however, a long way to go so would we be able to finish or not?
10 October: The second day is cloudier, thank goodness. But with a stronger wind that lifts and swirls the sand around. Some of us have picked up speed, others are not so fast. Some have swapped buckets for bags slung over one arm. We discover that you have to be fully present and engaged in the moment so though it’s back breaking work, it’s also very therapeutic. Amazingly, by the end of the day, the end is in sight.
11 October: It’s a Monday so only three of us can turn up to finish the work. We leave a strip of ground near the footpath that’s too wet and clumpy to sow but hope pupils from the local schools can sow this next year. For now, we’re finished by lunch-time and just have to be patient and wait for what shoots up next spring. Fingers tightly crossed.