Say No To The Mow

Facilitating community action on biodiversity in Cardiff

For years we’ve been approached by people keen to see Cardiff’s parks and verges managed better for wildlife. In lockdown 2020, with people valuing time in nature more than ever, we decided to work with Cardiff residents to do something about it, together. 

No Mow May has grown in popularity year on year, as more people realise the benefits – to wildlife and people – of allowing wild plants to grow and flower. However, in many places – including Cardiff – the approach to managing grassy areas can be inconsistent and frustrating, as huge areas of wild flowers are mown down or sprayed with herbicide, just when insects need them most. 

Individuals who have approached Cardiff Council have often felt dissatisfied with and dismissed by their response – for years many of us have been told that the grass has to be cut otherwise people would complain, or for unspecified safety reasons. We felt that a collective action would help offer a different perspective and show that many people across the city would support things being done differently. 

Given that everyone was stuck at home due to the pandemic, a collaborative craftivism campaign seemed to be a good fit. We began by drafting an open letter to Cardiff Council, presenting our perspective and the benefits of changing mowing and spraying practices. We invited anyone in Cardiff with an interest in the topic to add their name. 303 people signed in total, and the letter gathered some media coverage. 

Before getting started we did our research on the value of parks and verges, and on public opinion around mowing.
The meadow's first outing at a Save The Northern Meadows event

Next we wanted to create something eye catching and tangible to help get the point across. Using the statistic that 700 species of native wildflower can thrive on a single verge, we invited people to get crafting and help make 700 pom poms. 

 

Once we put the call out poms poms began arrived thick and fast! Big ones, little ones, fancy multicolour ones – so many came pouring through the Green Squirrel letterbox and arriving by post that soon we had well over 1000! These were sewn onto an enormous green blanket, creating a beautiful pop-up wildlflower meadow!  Huge thanks to Twin Made for sewing all those pom poms on. 

The pop-up meadow is now available for anyone in Cardiff to borrow to highlight unnecessary mowing or promote biodiversity measures – it’s most recent trip out was for Footprints North Cardiff’s No Mow May craftivism exhibition in Heath Park. 

 

Cardiff Council’s reply to our open letter responded to some but not all of our concerns. We shared it with the community and invited people to respond, then shared around thirty community responses with the council. 

 

We are pleased to say that, at the end of the summer, Cardiff Council announced the creation of 18 new ‘one cut’ sites. These are areas where the grass will be left to grow and only cut once in the later summer/ early autumn.

 

When we noted that none of these were located in the wards of Splott and Adamsdown, three more were added. Further sites have been added in 2021 and a map created so residents can identify them. 

The 2021 Say No To The Mow map

We are of course delighted that these One Cut sites have been created – especially where the cuttings are being collected – but feedback from Cardiff residents suggests there is a lot more that could be done. From early summer 2021 we again began to hear from people whose favourite little green patch had been mown, or sprayed with herbicide, for no apparent reason. We also noted that press releases from Cardiff Council continue to highlight support for mowing, without acknowledging the huge level of support for letting grassy areas grow. 

 

So in 2021 we created a map where, throughout May, Cardiff residents could pin locations they would like to see managed differently – over the course of the month over 140 sites were added! We have now passed this on to Cardiff Council and hope it will help inform the expansion of their One Cut programme. 

We will update this page if we receive a response from the council! In the meantime, if you’d like us to help you plan and carry out a campaign or craftivism project, then please use the form below to get in touch. 

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