Cornfield Flowers

The Cornfield Flowers Project

The Cornfield Flowers Project was established in 1997 to protect and multiply the wild plants of arable fields in North East Yorkshire. To-date it has saved several species from extinction in the area ans improved fortunes of many more.

The Carstairs Countryside Trust spearheaded this project and worked in partnership with the North York Moors Association, Ryedale Folk Museum and the North York Moors National Park Authority.

The Cornfield Flowers Project is a unique, long-running example of local people taking up a challenge to safeguard the future of the threatened plants of arable fields in an area of north-east Yorkshire.

Seeds from the Project are being deposited in the Millennium Seed Bank to provide an ‘insurance policy’ for the future.

Chris Wilson
Project Officer

The Cornfield Flowers Project owes much to Chris Wilson, a local farmer based in Hackness whose commitment, enthusiasm and knowledge has been crucial to the project’s success.

With the project from the start, Chris’s expertise in terms of the land, its geology and weather has brought that intimate local knowledge to benefit the conservation of lost and declining wildflowers. But, perhaps the most important aspect of Chris’s involvement was the fact that he is ‘one of them’. That is to say he was a well-respected and knowledgeable farmer of the area. He understood the issues for local farmers, he was able to explain to others what and why he was involved in a project which looked to return to field margins and hidden corners arable flowers lost over the years as intensification had been the order of the day. Chris’s knowledge of ‘cornfield flowers’ (oft described as weeds by the uninitiated) can rival professional botanists. He was also acutely aware that it was as much about a farmers interest as it was about the land. Chris was able to convince his friends and neighbours that what they were doing was worthwhile and would have a lasting legacy. If ever you get the opportunity then listen to one of his talks when he recounts facts that don’t appear in the literature, they are borne of experience that comes from a time served apprenticeship working with nature.
“Back from the brink” was the first phase of a pioneering project to rescue native wildflowers and “Out of intensive care” the most recent phase which has hopefully secured their future through an understanding of the benefits of wildflowers in the modern cornfield management regime.

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Tom Normandale
Project Officer

It was through a successful funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund and support from the North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority that CCT was able to employ Tom Normandale as a project officer.

Tom’s background was that of an architectural technician and this proved invaluable when designing topic and species cards and promotional material. His sound ecological experience leant confidence to the project’s recommendations and his extensive work with volunteers extended the project into corners it otherwise couldn’t have reached. Engaging with the wider public and supporting land owners has been pivotal to maintaining momentum in partnership with Chris Wilson.

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Nan Sykes

A local botanist, instrumental in the development of the project from the early days.

Funded & Supported by

Downloads and Reports

Read more about this project, pleas click on the title to view the pdf’s.

CFP MSB Photo Exhibition - part 1

A photographic celebration at the Millennium Seed Bank (Kew) Wakehurst Place Ardingly, West Sussex

CFP MSB Photo Exhibition - part 2

Continued…A photographic celebration at the Millennium Seed Bank (Kew) Wakehurst Place Ardingly, West Sussex


Heres a selection from our Cornflowers project. Please click on the image for a larger view.