Sam Ansell from the Coppice Co-op invites you to support local coppice cultures. 

For the Coppice Co-op, winter is a time of industrious activity – getting out into the woods while the trees are leafless and the plants and animals are in a general state of dormancy. It’s hard to beat a clear cold day in the woods in February, with the sun shining on your face and the gentle sound of sharp tools striking wood. Of course – some days are all screaming chainsaws and dragging branches through mud but you gotta take the rough with the smooth. Plus most of the co-op’s work is done in the Silverdale and Arnside National Landscape – which has a famously favourable micro-climate (deckchairs and sangrias all around!)

Coppicing is an ancient form of woodland management and involves cutting trees down at ground level to promote multi-stemmed regrowth. The harvested materials – or rods – are then processed with billhooks (the European version of the machete) to create a wide range of products. The Coppiced tree continues to grow from its original root system, and so the cycle continues – and has continued for thousands of years.

The winter time ends with a flurry of activity as the co-op tries to get all the woodland jobs finished before Spring. As spring turns to summer, members start making products out of the thousands of harvested rods. Some are sold fairly simply as stakes for gardens or horticulture (pea sticks, bean poles, hedge stakes). Charcoal is produced for BBQs in an Exeter retort (an efficient, modern method that minimises emissions) and charcoal fines can be made into Biochar (an excellent soil improver). The rest of the harvest is crafted into added-value items – taking non-uniform material and splitting it, carving it, weaving, twisting, and joining it into something useful, beautiful, or both. From woven hazel hurdles, cleft oak gates, or a unique memorial bench, the different members of the Co-op have their preferences when it comes to the craft work they do.

Coppicing is about much more than harvesting and selling small-diameter wood though. It’s about long-term sustainability, a heritage craft, ecology, and woodland cultures. Read the Spring 2024 issue of THRIVE Magazine to find out more about coppicing’s various benefits.

This Spring, the Coppice Co-op is keen to develop local links with Allotment Groups, growing and community projects to see if they can use their products. Depending on the size of the order, they may be able to offer free delivery and a brief talk or demonstration too.

For more information, contact info@coppicecoop.co.uk 07766629533 or sign up to the Coppice Co-op’s newsletter at www.coppicecoop.co.uk

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