Summer has very much moved into autumn here in the forest with chilly nights and the leaves turning. We have had a busy summer with lots happening, here is a little update of what we have been up to…
Scott ran Tanning workshops at a busy open day on Kate Humble’s small holding set in the beautiful Wye valley. He took road kill squirrels to skin and tan which turned out to be very popular with the kids. A good lesson in anatomy and gory fun had by all!
We spent some time over in Bristol at the forest garden and nursery doing some maintenance and harvesting. Everything is looking happy in the bare root nursery, the propagated fruit bushes have got massive and the forest garden is looking great. The volunteers and crew at feed bristol have been putting some time into establishing the ground cover and creating paths and mulch. There are things to harvest too… peaches, and absolutely laden sea buckthorn bushes; very nutritious, full of vitamin c and just the right height for toddlers!
Sensory Garden Phase 1 volunteer day
Digging paths and ponds: We had a great start to the Sensory garden, Scott and Matt did a fantastic job facilitating volunteers who helped them dig out the paths and lay shuttering ready for the gravel to go down. The paths need to be wide and not too steep for wheelchair access so it has been a big job but the garden is really taking shape now, even the staff and service users got involved making it a really fun and involved day.
We had a fantastic time as usual at the green gathering this year. We love this event it is a wonderful mix of great people doing interesting, innovative and creative things. We set the yurt up as a tannery space in the permaculture area of the festival next to green crafts and felt very at home being very much about teaching an ancient craft and wanting to promote sustainable ways of living. We had help from Kirsty who was a keen student of the craft as well as a very helpful assistant to workshop participants. We seemed busier than ever this year with what seems a growing interest in land-based living skills, we had a great chance to meet new people and have inspiring conversations. This year Scott managed to acquire a load of rabbits, these were donated to us frozen and we still are not sure where they came from. But in the spirit of using what is going to become waste scott decided to teach the art of skinning, butchering and tanning rabbit. A useful skill to learn and lots of people went away with a very nice looking rabbit fur as these were not wild but domesticated rabbits. And a lot of rabbit stew was eaten.
Bud grafting at Days Cottage
Scott went for a day out to learn more about bud grafting which was very informative and lots of fun. Bud grafting is a form of propagating fruit trees that can be done over the summer months which is more pleasant than grafting trees in the winter and also gives you a second chance at grafting any trees that may have failed from the winter.
Designing a permaculture orchard
A community orchard is being set up at Berryhill in the Forest of Dean and we have got involved to help design and implement the orchard. The group had a fun session doing design work looking at ways of clustering fruit bushes, nitrogen fixing shrubs and herbs around the fruit trees. There are going to be areas of heritage variety fruit trees with a good mix of apple, pear, plum and cherry, and there will also be a productive area using more fruit tree varieties that are known for being very productive. The design includes tree lupin’s for nitrogen fixing and mint and comfrey for ground cover and companion planting.
We have just come back from a sunny week in Cumbria in a beautiful woodland near to lake Windermere where we spent five days learning about the great art of coppicing and coppice crafts, including how to manage a coppice, sort the wood for different products and protect the stools. We also learnt how to make gypsy flowers, spatulas, woven greenwood stools, oak-riven panels, willow baskets and much more. It was a fantastic week where we met lots of amazing people working in the field of green crafts and woodland management. Coppicing is a traditional and sustainable way of managing our woodlands in Britain and it is not often you see it in practice these days so it was great to meet lots people advocating and practicing this. The woodland pioneers week is organised by the Bill Hogarth memorial trust and is part of a wider community of coppice workers and crafts people running events, courses and apprenticeships.