Local producer donates funds to raise awareness of one of Bowland’s special habitats

15 September 2021

Through funds raised from sales of Goosnargh Gin‘s ‘Hay Time’, a re-wild the child project was able to secure educational resources to support visits for youngsters to learn about the special hay meadows in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

One of the species-rich meadows at the Gathering Fields

Hay Time is just one of Goosnargh Gin’s creations which are distilled in small batches in their bespoke copper still Bea in the shadow of Beacon Fell. The company uses local, organic and sustainably grown botanicals to produce a limited number of their unique distillation, the fourth ‘Chapter’ in their range of gins, from Bowland’s Coronation Meadows.

The wildflower-rich Coronation Meadows are located at Bell Sykes Farm in Slaidburn and they act as a living seedbank – one of the last unimproved flower-rich grasslands in this part of Lancashire. Peter Blackwell, the farmer at Bell Sykes Farm lets the grasses grow much longer before cutting and bailing, so that the seeds can develop and then be used to regenerate wildflower meadows elsewhere.

During 2020, for every bottle of Hay Time gin sold, Goosnargh Gin donated £5 to Champion Bowland.  Owners Richard and Rachel Trenchard were keen to support a project in the Forest of Bowland that would provide educational visits for youngsters to learn about the importance of protecting these wonderful habitats.

Chair of Champion Bowland Mike Pugh said: ‘We were delighted to receive £600 from Goosnargh Gin, with a particular focus on supporting an educational project within the Forest of Bowland, linked to the hay meadows.  Working with the AONB, we were able to find the ideal project to support these aims. Located at the Gathering Fields – a site already working in partnership with the AONB to restore their own hay meadows – is the project ‘Re-wild the child’.

Re-wild the child, based at the Gathering Fields near Abbeystead, is a grass roots project in its early stages, raising funds and awareness for the rewilding of a wildflower meadow and providing opportunities for educational visits. Supporting small groups and charities that would not normally be able to access our beautiful countryside.

Helen Leece, owner of the Gathering Fields said: ‘We started working in 2019 with the AONB’s Hay Time Rescue Project, continuing in 2021 through the Green Recovery Fund delivered by Plantlife’s Meadow Makers project, restoring our 4-acre meadow, adding seed and plug plants. The transformation to date has been wonderful to see.  During the early summer months our hay meadow is a beautiful sight and is alive with the buzz of bees and insects, and we wanted to be able to open-up opportunities for young people to explore this wonderful habitat.  Our educational visits include discovering the healthy benefits on our wellbeing through nature-based activities, nutritional cooking, crafts, movement and plant identification.  The donation from Goosgnargh Gin through ‘Hay Time’ sales, has enabled us to purchase some useful resources to support the activities during these visits’.

Carol Edmondson, Hay Time Project Officer for the AONB said: ‘This type of partnership approach is at the centre of how we deliver projects across Bowland. It’s fantastic to see it all tying together, from the restoration work here at the Gathering Fields and at Bells Sykes Farm, to increasing opportunities for the public, then linking that through to the AONB’s tourism work and a local business with sustainable values being inspired to put something back.’

For further information about Bowland’s Hay Time Project visit: https://www.forestofbowland.com/Hay-Time-Project and the charity Champion Bowland visit: http://www.championbowland.org/

To find out more about the Re-wild the Child project at the Gathering Fields visit: https://www.northernapproach.co.uk/

And for details of Goosgnargh Gin’s Hay time bottling visit: https://goosnarghgin.co.uk/

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