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Shrewsbury, Shropshire, United Kingdom
FSC Preston Montford has been an outdoor classroom since 1957 and is a Field Studies Council centre. We deliver curriculum related outdoor education by the experts; from pre-school to Masters level; for infants, school students, undergraduates and enquiring adults with an interest in the natural world. Courses for schools and individuals. A venue for others to use; with bed space for 130, catering facilities and 7 fully equipped teaching and meeting spaces.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Preston Montford Green Newsletter

                                          Preston Montford is Shropshire’s first Eco Centre.
We pride ourselves on doing the best we can to minimise our impact on the environment.
We hope to inspire our visitors to learn more about what they can do to look after the planet we all inhabit


We now have a short walking route round the Preston Montford Estate for visitors wishing to stretch their legs after study sessions. This is a free, healthy outdoor activity which showcases the great eco features we have on site. Maps are situated on the “Grounds” display board in the Darwin Common Room. If you get a few moments, why not take one and enjoy the hidden gems we have on our doorstep.

By recycling textiles and shoes though Phil the Bank we have managed to raise £60. This money will cover the costs of some new plants for the herb and vegetable plots the produce from which may well be on your dinner plate.
Meanwhile a  family of Robins have taken up residence in the handle of the bank. Keep an eye out on site for the newly fledged robin chicks.

Balancing cost control against waste and sustainability is a balancing act for any catering department. Our kitchen staff have been monitoring the amount of butter used at meal times; pack lunches use most butter, significant amounts are used at breakfast with a smaller amount used on rolls at dinner times.

As an exercise we collected and froze all the left over butter during a typical week. At the end of the week the whole lot was weighed and valued. We were staggered to see that the value of waste butter amounted £18.00, the equivalent of £2.17 per day. After a cost benefit calculation we have decided to serve butter in individual foil wrapped portions. This will save at at least £414.00 this year and in addition we can recycle the foil wrappings from the butter portions and customers can spread the portions more easily. So our butter mountain will now be a mere bump on the landscape and our visitor experience will be enhanced.

Visitors to Preston Montford know we are surrounded by some lovely fields. But when is a field a pasture and when is a field a meadow?   Meadow and pasture are really farming terms that describe the use made of the ground for feeding livestock. A pasture is a field where the stock eats the growing crop, whereas the crop in a meadow is cut and dried in summer to make hay which is fed to the stock in the winter.
What grows in a field? A good field has so much more than grass: In the same way that a varied diet is essential for good human health, animals are also healthier if they eat a varied diet, so a good meadow crop will contain as large a variety of plants as can be encouraged to grow.
In a pasture grazing animals return much of what they eat back to the soil and they also compact the soil by walking on it. Both of these factors have a big impact on pasture fields and the plants that grow in them. Over time the diversity of the plant community will be reduced and leading to use of additional fertiliser or extra feed. In a meadow the plants are cut for hay soon after flowering and most seeds and nutrients are completely removed for animal fodder. This reduces the fertility of the soil and prevents any single species of plant becoming dominant thus maintaining a high level of diversity within the plant community. Preston Montford grounds have been grazed over the years and as part of our grounds development we want to restore a balance of pasture and meadow around the Centre.
The sad death of Fran Griffiths has provided an opportunity to make this happen and create a meadow which will celebrate the life of someone who lived life to the full and valued her time at Preston Montford over many years. The project has begun and will develop “Fran’s Meadow” as a fantastic resource for the Centre for educational use with students but also for the pure pleasure of seeing how diverse a real meadow could and should be.
There will be some public activity days as part of the process possibly involving a scything day to cut some hay and a hayseed spreading day to give an injection of good seeds and get “Fran’s Meadow” off to a flying start. Keep an eye on the Centre website, Facebook page or Twitter for more details nearer the time.

As part of the Grounds Development Plan we have successfully applied for and won a funding bid from the Field Studies Council Eco-Fund. Our project for the restoration of hedges around the grounds has  been awarded a grant of £2750. Projects were judged on their ability to provide a measureable reduction in carbon and inspire greater environmental understanding and participation from staff and customers.

Over the next few months A-Level Biology students will survey the hedge to establish a baseline of  biodiversity and then the studies can be repeated in future years to monitor the impact of the hedge restoration. Next winter the Preston Montford Hedge project will involve a “Hedgelaying skills introduction” workday for staff and volunteers. If you are interested please let us know and send in your contact details.

IT’S BEEN A BUZZING YEAR FOR BEES                                                                                                                                                             
It’s been over a year since PM staff pulled together and made what might arguably be the UK’s biggest “Bee Hotel”. It has been a great success with more than 12 different species of solitary bee and wasp using the hotel to lay their eggs. 

 Cutaway view of the larval chambers.                                                 A leaf cutter bee Megachile centuncularis. Photo taken from http://www.nhm.ac.uk
Of all the materials put in the Hotel the most popular egg-laying sites are bamboo stems and drilled log stumps. 3-5mm. Female bees choose holes between 3- 5mm wide and line the hole with chewed mud. The egg is laid on this lining and then the bee collects pollen and deposits it in the hole; this pollen is food for the larva when it hatches. The bee seals the egg in a cell with a wall of chewed mud. She then repeats the process laying eggs along the length of the hole. On a sunny
day at the it is fascinating to watch females competing for the best stems. You don’t need a big hotel-just some dry plant stems and a bit of time, so if you can spare the time go and have a look. 

Compiled and edited by Angela Munn and Adrian Pickles for FSC Preston Montford. May 2014.

E-mail address enquiries.pm@field-studies-council.org  Telephone 01743 852040
Visit our website FSC Preston Montford, follow us on Twitter @PrestonMontford

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