VOLUNTEER community gardeners in Thornbury have been given the unique opportunity to take their hobby back in time with a course in the traditional skill of scything.

The 10 participants from the Thornbury Community Orchard and Morton Bridge Wildflower Meadow took part in the class, learning to hone their skills in the classic method of cutting grass which has been used on fields and farms in England for centuries.

It also meant they could employ the practical methods to mow the meadow and orchard ready for autumn.

The course on August 17, which was sponsored by Thornbury-based law firm Barcan+Kirby, also included the purchase of a brand new scything kit for the group.

The sponsorship, which also included the purchase of a brand new scything kit for the volunteer group, is part of Barcan+Kirby's efforts to support community orchards, gardens, meadows and a city farm located in proximity to the law firm's six offices in Bristol and Thornbury.

The firm's 'Growing Together' campaign, which supports community orchards, gardens, meadows and a city farm, all near their six offices across Bristol and Thornbury, aims to boost the community groups’ to enable organisers to either complete much needed maintenance work or to kick start new projects.

John Mills, scything course organiser for Thornbury Community Orchard said: "In the past we've only had three regular volunteers who have had scythe training, so we had to rely on them to lead when scything was required.

"The sponsorship has enabled us to hold a course so that we will have more volunteers capable to help in future years. We are a small group of volunteers with no funds of our own, so we are totally reliant on grants or sponsorship."

Bill Willcocks, managing partner of Barcan+Kirby considers the support of community organisations a reflection of the firm's core values.

He said: “We are proud to be at the heart of the local community and this is a vital part of who we are. We are delighted to be able to help such an important local initiative through our involvement with the Thornbury Community Orchard.

“Grassroots projects such as this make such a positive contribution to the local environment by giving people within the community the opportunity to benefit through volunteering as they learn and develop new skills.”