Sunday 23 October 2016

The prince of flails: Charles at cutting edge of scything movement

Published 04/08/2015 | 00:08

The Prince of Wales extolled the virtues of the ancient art of scything
The Prince of Wales extolled the virtues of the ancient art of scything

The Prince of Wales and Captain Ross Poldark from the hit BBC Cornish saga have a common interest - a love of scything.

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Images of the show's lead actor Aidan Turner working topless with a scythe in a field grabbed the attention of television viewers when screened earlier this year.

In a radio interview Charles has talked about how his meadows have been cut the traditional way and he has even judged a scything competition in the Romanian village where he has a property.

It is not known if the heir to the throne has tried scything at his Duchy Home Farm in Gloucestershire, but it is thought possible as he is a keen advocate of other rural crafts like dry stone walling.

Charles told the BBC Radio 4 programme On Your Farm : "Interestingly I discovered that in the UK there's a very flourishing scything society who help to come and scythe bits of my meadow every now and again."

Last year the heir to the throne launched the Coronation Meadows project which aims to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation by identify a meadow in every county and use those sites to restore or recreate other meadows in their area.

The prince added: "But all I'm saying is that scything, because it's done at that level, is incredibly beneficial to the wild flower production and continuity. Now, there are certain meadows that you could apply scything to, if you were keen enough to do it, and there are more people interested."

Farmer and Scythe Association representative Simon Fairlie confirmed his organisation had been cutt ing the prince's grasslands for a number of years.

Speaking generally about the process he said: "Your cutting the grass for hay on a small scale with scythes, and it's a bit more sensitive to the wildlife."

The prince was interviewed earlier this year during his regular stay in Transylvania where he has a number of properties, and in the village of Zalanpatak, which has a rural way of life unchanged by modern machinery, he chatted to the programme's presenter and even judged the scything competition.

In the interview, which will be broadcast on Sunday, August 16, Charles added: " And all I've been trying to do, for the last God knows how long, is remind people you need to reintroduce the balance in all this, and we need to remember that rural communities are vital, people still want to live in the countryside but it has to be a living and working one at the same time."

The prince told how he helped start a co-operative in the village of Zalanpatak to encourage people to market their homegrown and handmade products.

Charles said: "I've helped to start a co-operative for the village because half the battle, I think, is how they market their products, how they raise the quality, how they can add some value.

"So we've actually got 13 families now in the village together. Sometimes not easy to do so, because you can imagine (it's) a small community.

"Then you create a brand image around those products, which can be used here but also elsewhere, then I would hope in due course we could get other villages to come together to form, you know, a larger brand."

Press Association

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