This 2022-23 season the have again been blessed with a herd of Surrey Wildlife Trust’s belted Galloway cattle on our 17 acres of chalk grassland fields at Rosamund Community Garden (RCG).
Having the cows graze the land is beneficial because they eat up the fast growing rye grass thatch that has accumulated over the growing season, opening up the base of the sward for the less vigorous perennial herbs that make well managed chalk grassland such a fantastically biodiverse habitat that many rare species depend upon.
The cows eat delicately, leaving the underlying structure of sandy meadow ant nests in-tact, each a micro-biome in its own right. Their hooves also churn up the fields, opening up mini patches of bare earth that can be colonised by new plants, and spread seed around the area. Last summer, after two years of grazing, we were delighted to see new areas of kidney vetch growth as well as increases in yellow rattle and quaking grass in our field, implying that we are achieving a better mix of flora and more food plants for the rare small blue butterfly.
Our grazing area adjoins Pewley Vineyard and also the newly acquired Pewley Meadows https://friends-of-pewley-meadows.mailchimpsites.com/news. Last year, Pewley Meadows was saved from development when it was purchased by a consortium led by Julia Stephenson (one of the Rosamund Community Garden owners) alongside a local community Group and Surrey Wildlife Trust. The Pewley Meadows have also been grazed by the same herd over this winter and connect our site to Pewley Down, making a large connected area reserved for wildlife right next to the heart of central Guildford.
Our trusty team of Lookerers has checked the cattle daily throughout the winter to ensure they are safe and well, keeping open their water trough by breaking the ice twice a day at times. We so enjoy having them with us – thank you Surrey Wildlife Trust and thank you to all our volunteers who helped make their visit to us possible.