Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer


Why do scything & wilding go hand in hand (oct23)

Our scything day was joyous. Watching the scythers sweep through the grass was a totally different experience from using a ride-on mower or strimmer. And, I learned that there are multiple benefits to this approach too.

For a start, it’s far better for wildlife that may be lurking in the undergrowth. Our scythers found several harvest mouse nests that they left intact – and grasshoppers and other insects simply jumped out of the way.

We were lucky enough to be joined by Andi Rickard, the first female national scything champion and an eleven-time ladies’ champion. Andi shares her passion for scything, how she got started, and why she loves teaching others at her Somerset Scythe School.

We had a wonderful day and there was great camaraderie between those who participated. There was also some agreement that it was a tough challenge covering our land. In part this was because we haven’t done any scything here before but also because I asked them to tackle the swathes of knapweed across the site, as well as docks – and they’re tough. That meant lots of blade sharpening was required. This seems to be an integral part of the scyther’s skills – Andi is shown explaining why it’s important and how to go about it.

Grassland management is one of the biggest challenges of wilding – particularly in the Autumn. In the early part of the year, it’s very easy because we simply mow paths through the vegetation. However, if we want to retain our wildflower meadows and encourage diversity across the site, we have to do some rigorous cutting. This removes the coarse grasses and docks and allows next year’s wildflowers to come through. We didn’t manage to cover the whole site this time, but stay tuned for more scything days next year. And we’ll schedule some time for music too – one of our helpers came with her accordion to keep everyone swinging their blades in harmony….

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This film was made by the Bristol Video Company 🌱

#scything #wilding #grasslandmanagement

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