Long Mead is part of the last three per cent of Britain’s ancient floodplain hay meadows ... They were once the most valuable land in Britain, their fertility being enhanced by the river silt carried in during floods. They even feature in the Domesday Book. These meadows allowed villagers to overwinter their livestock since they not only provided grazing but a hay crop as well.
Meadows like Long Mead remained the most sought-after land until the introduction of artificial fertilisers when, overnight, farmers could increase the richness of all their land ... So, in the last half-century, our meadows turned from a riot of colour buzzing with insects, butterflies and birds, to a quiet, rich, uniform green. Standing amid the flowers of Long Mead on a June afternoon, you understand that the richness has come with a loss.
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