Meadows have county roots

Kevin Wharf on his farm
Kevin Wharf on his farm

New natural meadow areas are springing up across the county – and the seeds are all grown and harvested in north Northumberland.

Farmer Kevin Wharf has been developing wildflower meadows at his farm near Thropton for more than 15 years.

He looks after the species-rich meadows very carefully to ensure that seeds can be collected, harvested and dried, ready for use across the region.

“This aspect of the farm came out of a countryside stewardship scheme and my own particular interest in the natural habitats that are produced by these meadows and the pollinators that they can then sustain,” said Kevin.

“We have developed knowledge and skills over the years and it is fantastic to see a variety of species such as eyebright, meadow buttercup, oxeye daisy, red clover, yellow rattle and yarrow becoming established in a number of different locations around the county and beyond.”

Windyside Farm provides the wildflower seed to Northumberland’s Growing Wild Project, which is encouraging appropriate areas of grassland to grow into managed wildflower meadow areas.

So far, 12 sites have been developed as part of the project that is being run by Northumberland County Council in partnership with the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, and has funding from the SITA Trust.

Sites have been identified in conjunction with local communities and where found to have suitable soil conditions are prepared and developed to provide conditions that will help them to thrive.

Management of the areas involves cutting two or three times a year and wildflower seeds or plug plants added before the winter sets in. The sites are then left to develop naturally in the spring, allowing as many wildflowers as possible to grow.

Coun Alan Thompson, executive member responsible for neighbourhood services at Northumberland County Council, said: “The seed from Kevin Wharf’s farm in Thropton is ideal because we know that it is able to cope with the weather conditions that the county of Northumberland experiences.”