On Friday 15th December The Coppice Coop from Silverdale will be attending Lancaster’s Midwinter Market; demonstrating green woodwork techniques and selling a range of crafts made from locally sourced wood. They tell us more about their work in this week’s column.
What does the Coppice Coop do?
“We coppice local woodlands, supply local firewood, charcoal and a wide range of traditional products (for example, hazel hurdles, besom brooms, bean-poles, pea-sticks) and run craft and coppice courses from our woodland yard. We aim to: restore old, coppiced woodlands and make them productive again; to re-engage local people with the wonderful woodlands in the North West area of Britain; to encourage sustainable forest management and traditional crafts; to teach people the skills to carry out coppicing and greenwood crafts; to help promote the biodiversity of our woodlands and protect our wildlife and to provide local communities with ecologically produced products and services.”
What is coppicing?
“It’s a traditional, sustainable and productive form of woodland management where trees are regularly cut off at ground level, causing many rods (rather than one large trunk) to grow from the stump or ‘stool’. These rods are straight and long and can be used for many crafts and products.”
What does the winter mean for you and your work?
“The winter is the most important season for coppicers as it’s when the coppicing is carried out. Trees are cut down to ground level after the autumn leaf fall, when the sap has gone down, and before it rises again in the spring. So, in the winter, we’re busy coppicing and dressing out (preparing) products such as bean poles, hazel poles for weaving into hurdles, besom brash for besom brooms etc. We then process firewood at our yard, and make charcoal ready for the spring as well as making greenwood products. We also layer hazel in neglected coppice coupes (a ‘coupe’ is an area of coppice) so that the coupe will be restocked and will become more productive.
What do you enjoy most and least about the winter?
The best thing about winter is that it’s the most important time for a coppicer as it’s when the coppicing takes place and the wood is gathered. The worst thing about this season is the cold, wet days when there’s no fire to keep warm! (But that makes you work harder so you don’t get too cold!)