Saturday June 4th
The Parish Grasslands Project extends an open invitation to its 2016 open day on Saturday June 4th.
This is a rare opportunity to visit some of the wild flower-rich meadows in St Briavels and Hewelsfield. There should be plenty of wild flowers to see, as well as interesting livestock. Because of the livestock we ask visitors not to bring dogs, unless confined to cars.
We are calling the event Open Fields because it will feature eight of the sites in our publication "Our Fields", which tells the individual stories of a selection of local residents and their fields.
For full details of how to find each property download our information leaflet here, or pick up a copy at the Village Shop, Brockweir or the Pantry, St Briavels.
On the day simply follow the signs to the eight sites described below. We look forward to welcoming you.
Bryn House - Wildflower profusion
The main field is one of the few in the area that may never have been cultivated. This, coupled with its unusual mixture of dry and moist soils, has resulted is an exceptional display of grasses and wild flowers, including heath-spotted orchids, bush vetch, harebells and pale sedge.
The PGP's George Peterken will be on site between 11.00 am and 1.00 pm to identify the species.
Hollyside Farm - Flower-rich fields
The fields are among the richest on St Briavels Common for wild flowers, including bitter-vetch, ragged robin, lesser spearwort and an abundance of common spotted-orchids. They illustrate the ideal management-regime for biodiversity: summer haymaking followed by aftermath grazing, in this case by a pair of Dexter cows.
The PGP's George Peterken will be on site between 2.00pm and 4.00pm to identify the many species in evidence.
Morgan's Cottage - Uses for material from woodland and hedgerow
Seven acres of pasture, managed under Higher Level Stewardship, with overgrown hedgerows to manage, and a small adjacent mature oak woodland. A flower rich sward is achieved through horse grazing.
Harvesting from woodland and cleared hedgerows yields products ranging from beams and gateposts to cleft stakes and hazel products. The orchard should demonstrate some principles of planting and protection of young fruit trees.
Oakwood - Improved versus unimproved land
This is an 8-acre smallholding, split between grassland managed for wild flowers and newly acquired, "improved" agricultural land, which is nutrient rich and species poor. These fields provide a good illustration of how different management regimes affect biodiversity. Find out about haymaking and hay-composting by hand, and rearing livestock ranging from chickens to bees to Castlemilk Moorit sheep.
Wyeside - Woodland and fields
This 12-acre smallholding, deep in the Hudnalls, is part woodland, part wild flower-filled grassland. Some of the land was overgrown and a programme of sympathetic clearing and restoration is underway.
Learn about low-tech haymaking, machinery for field and woodland management, livestock rearing - chickens, ducks, Shetland sheep and donkey - and about the history of the Hudnalls.
Oak Cottage - Wildlife haven
This is a 2.5-acre smallholding managed specifically for wildlife. The fields, stream and woodland are home and hunting ground for a huge range of birds, insects and mammals, from glow worms to barn owls, and in summer the grassland teems with wild flowers.
Oak Cottage is also home to beehives, a flourishing kitchen garden, a small flock of Jacob's sheep and lambs, and to Wye Valley Naturals, makers of wild-crafted soap.
Harthill Cottage - Family-scale food and fuel production
This 18-acre smallholding is managed with the aim of self-sufficiency. The wild flower-rich fields, which are in Environmental Stewardship, are grazed by about 50 Castlemilk Moorit sheep and lambs.
Other activities include beekeeping, poultry and pig rearing, and vegetable growing on a serious scale. There is also a recently planted orchard. Domestic heating is provided by a log-burning boiler, fired by timber grown and processed on site.
Chapel Cottage - The battle with bracken
This is a good example of the beginning stages of turning land overwhelmed by bracken into flower-diverse grassland and a viable smallholding. There are plans to introduce a low-maintenance, sustainable forest garden incorporating fruit trees, shrubs, herbs and perennial vegetables.
Find out about planning new fields, battling with bracken and livestock rearing: there are Berkshire pigs, Balwen sheep, chickens, ducks and bees.