Darlington Borough Council (DBC) in conjunction with Friends of the Earth (FOTE) and Darlington BeeKeepers Association (DBKA) are planning on developing 10 hectares (I hectare = 10,0000m2) of wild flower meadow in Darlington. Coincidentally we have been thinking for some time of doing the same, perhaps on a more modest scale, but nevertheless we have made some progress.
We have identified costs for a wide and extensive variety of plants with the help of Elm Ridge Garden Centre, and are presently considering a number of potential sites in the village. Perhaps the most promising could emanate from discussions that have already started with the Priory School, Hurworth Prep as was. They have a substantial area of land just behind Westfield Drive/The Manorfields and appear to be receptive to their involvement in such a venture.
We are potentially looking at 1/10 of a hectare ( about 30 x 30 m2) with perhaps £500 for seed and up to £1,000 for ground prep, sowing and rolling including soil testing. If nutrient rich, we could do with a deep plough to bury the rich soil that will outcompete the wildflowers if left on top. We need a local farmer with a fairly powerful tractor to pull a good sized plough, then the follow up works, harrow, roller etc to finish it off. So for that size, we think a project cost of £2,000, or ideally a bit more so we may have some for follow up works, seems about right.
We have established links with Rob George, DBC Countryside Officer, who has visited the site and together with FOTE has expressed a willingness to be involved.
All very embryonic yet!!