How to build a haystack, lessons on how to scythe and a scything competition, are just some of the many activities planned for a weekend celebrating the traditional hay harvest at Walthamstow Marshes.
For those wishing to emulate the art of scything, recently popularised in BBC’s Poldark, the Community Haystacks event, at Lammas Meadows on Saturday and Sunday, 30 July and 31 offers an opportunity for people to try their hand at this ancient skill. People can find out about and participate in traditional management practices which have now largely disappeared from the area. This is the fourth year the Community Haystacks Event has been held on Walthamstow Marshesand among the weekend’s exciting activities will be a series of scything workshops and talks plus a bring your own food picnic and a grand finale scything contest for all to enter. With plenty of hay for play, children can participate too, making haystacks and mazes of their own.
Austrian scythe expert Clive Leeke will teach scything workshops on the first day. “Far from being a macho activity, scything is all about technique, balance and a sharp blade,” he said. “Prizes were won by both men and women last year and I think it has more in common with dancing and yoga than strenuous physical effort.”
Lee Valley Regional Park ranger, Eamonn Lawlor said: “Last year we had more than 100 people learning to scythe, picking up this ancient skill surprisingly fast. Local residents, conservationists, historians, activists, artists, families and scything enthusiasts joined together to recreate the pre-mechanical hay harvest and revive traditions of scything and commoning. By taking part, scythers of varying degrees of experience, from experts to total novices, can reconnect with an ancient part of the farming year - and we hope to get a good crowd again this time round.”
The timetable for the weekend is as follows:
30 and 31July
Sat 30 July , 10:30-12:30, 13:30-15:30 & 16:00-18:00
Learn how to scythe with Austrian scything expert Clive Leeke.
Refreshments and equipment are provided.
£15 per session (£8 concessions).
To book a place e-mail Kathrin@myvillages.org
Commons and Commoning, discussion
Sat 30 July, 12:30
Bring your own picnic and join an informal public talk with invited guests about the history of the land and related cultures of commoning.
Avery Gordon, writer and sociologist
Joe Ward, New Lammas Land Defence Committee
Sun 31 July - 13.30-15.00
Scything competition on the marshes with local food prizes for :
Best quality sward
Best overall performance and style
Sun 31 July, 12:00 - 16:00
Come along to help build a large community haystack on the marshes.
Bring your own picnic and join a guided tour around the marshes with the park rangers at 13:00.
A large area of the marshes will be dedicated to scything, and open to those who already know how to scythe.
For bookings and information contact: Kathrin Böhm : E firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile: 07941 696 515. Website: www.h-a-y-s-t-a-c-k-s.net