The Scottish Scythe Festival took place around the weekend of 24th June at Blackhaugh Farm in Perthshire.
It was a hugely enjoyable weekend of scything with around 150 attendees overall. The 13 participants on the Improvers workshop on Friday led by Andi Rickard and John Grundy mowed one of the camping fields and they successfully mowed the festival site, enabling the marquee and other tents and bits to be erected ready for the off.
On Saturday presentations were given by – Wendy Barrie and Bosse Dahlgren who talked about their book ‘Meadows: The Swedish Farmer & The Scottish Cook’ and signed copies. Bosse made the frames for a hay rack in Swedish style and began to load the freshly cut sward on to it. Helen Dickinson from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust gave a talk and walk about bumblebees. Johanna Willi explained how amenity land can be turned into meadow. Johnny Wells from the Water of Leith Conservation Trust talked about how they manage the river banks with volunteers using scythes. Will Sutherland was giving demonstrations of his A-frame Scythes while Jim Mcvittie gave two snath making workshops. Mike Hyatt demo’d his seed cleaning and dehulling machine. Johnny Agnew led a tour of the Tayside Growers market garden and Blackhaugh Farm.
There were a lot of people having a go at scything for the first time patiently being led by some of the experts on hand and a fair amount of peening was done including a demo from Andi Rickard who ran the shop and was lead judge for the competition.
There were 30 entries for the competition and three prizes this year. The first ever Children’s Prize (16 and under) went to Freddie Winfield Hayes. The Women’s prize went to Lou Ferns and the Overall winner was Peter Blackwell.
We had ten finalists mowing 5mx5m squares and we used the Gairloch Gathering scoring method to ascertain the winner.
Time in seconds plus quality x10 (0 best, 20 worst). Lowest total is the winner.
Peter Blackwell – 136. 1min46sec, quality 3.
James Brodie – 214. 1min54sec, quality 10.
Lou Ferns – 290. 3min, quality 11.
Ryan Deans – 298. 3min58sec, quality 6.
Mario Pager – 305. 2min45sec, quality 14.
Peter Mclennan – 311. 3min11sec, quality 12.
Jo Hayward – 332. 4min12sec, quality 8.
Ida Fabrizio – 399. 4min59sec, quality 10.
Angus Simpson – 400. 5min20sec, quality 8.
Hannah Holden – 467. 5min17sec, quality 15.
All in all the day provided lots of opportunities for networking, skill sharing and socialising including some team and synchronised mowing. The local food vans provided nutritious fayre for all, including dishes created from farm veg and wild venison. The children were kept busy all day, successfully dismantling a large straw bale and creating various dens, slides and games along the way. The campers chilled out around the campfire on both evenings where there were some songs sung and stories shared.
New meadow creations are afoot on the farm and a mowing session is planned for next year with the next Festival due in 2025.
Please also note that everyone involved in organising the event is putting their time in for free so a big thank you to everyone who bought tickets as this is our main source of funding.
Report and photos supplied by Rob Brodie