Backwell Environment Trust

...15 years of conservation, protection, improvement...

Scything at Chew - August 2017

On Saturday 19th August, Backwell Environment Trust (BET) held a scything workshop at The Community Farm, Chew Magna. This free event was quickly taken up and, within a few days, all of the 25 available places were fully booked. The enthusiastic volunteers travelled from all over our area and some travelled as far as South Wales to come to this fabulous venue overlooking Chew Valley Lake.

Recently there has been an quite an upsurge in interest in traditional hand scything using Austrian scythes for cutting meadows in an environmentally friendly way. Austrian scythe blades are widely recognised as being amongst the best in the world and are imported into the UK from a factory first established in 1540.

The volunteers were taught the correct techniques for hand scything by BET’s Peter Speight and in a very short space of time were all scything away, cutting the grass at an astonishing rate.

Scything 2 700

After scything, the grass was raked up into piles and removed from the meadow using pitchforks – a very traditional English scene. After trying out the three different designs of scythe blade we had brought along, quite a few of the volunteers were keen to purchase their own scythes to use on their own patch of grassland when they returned home.

Chew 700

Lunch of delicious home-made soup and rolls was served from the Farm’s yurt and we all spent the lunchtime sitting in the glorious sunshine discussing the finer points of blades, snaths (scythe handles) and peening (restoring the blade’s profile). Chew lunch 700

We all finished the day tired, but I think everyone had a fantastic day, learnt some new skills, made some new friends and went away, hopefully inspired to carry on this ancient country craft on their own patch of land.

Ian Chambers

More pictures of the day can be found in our photo gallery here:  Flickr Gallery. 


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