Archive for the ‘Into The Future: Plan-It Earth Eco Project’ Category

Coppicing In Cornwall

September 17, 2013

It is a privilege to be able to work in the woods throughout the year, and to see one woodland change over the years is truly incredible.

Looking up through the ash coppice this summer

Looking up through the ash coppice this summer

Such a warm summer has been fantastic for all that flora and fauna, especially the invertebrates.The bees have been extra busy building resilience for the winter and the butterflies!!!…well

The Plan-It Earth goddess with a fluttering heart

The Plan-It Earth goddess with a fluttering heart

The ash coppice has been putting on girth ready for the Winter cut this year…

Cornish Ash Coppice

Cornish Ash Coppice

…and we are hoping Calara Fraxinea (Ash Dieback) will not get down to this part of the world for the next 10years or so, so cutting now will produce another good crop in 8-10years. That’s the scientific projection anyway!? It will be such a cause of pain to me to see these trees disappear, but we can always replant with another woodfuel crop; Sycamore maybe?…does anyone out there have any ideas?

If you are interested in sustainable woodland management, or coppicing please contact me at gregh@futuretracks.co.uk

Artists Charcoal

September 17, 2013

“Every time I use Greg’s charcoal something magic happens” – Naomi Frears.

Over the past 3 years I have been refining the process of producing artists charcoal. Down here in Cornwall there is no shortage of artists believe me 🙂 Even so, the majority of clients I have for this charcoal are in education. Larger clients include Newlyn Art School (www.newlynartschool.co.uk) and Woldingham School (www.woldinghamschool.co.uk), but I also run workshops teaching people how to make their own.

Making artists charcoal for a workshop

Making artists charcoal for a workshop

If you are interested in ordering artists charcoal, or learning to make it yourself then please contact me at gregh@futuretracks.co.uk

Debrief – Bushcraft Workshops Summer 2012

September 12, 2012

Well what a Summer!

Luckily with the new Outdoor Studio space I was warm and dry and so were the brave souls who ventured out to do the Bushcraft workshops.

Wild food was sought out and consumed, rucksacks were made, traps were constructed, slings and atlatls were used to throw projectiles and fun was had by all! I’ll be posting the Winter Workshop schedule so let me know if you want to join in.

Green Woodwork Space Mk III

September 12, 2012

So the Spring and Summer have been busy here. In April I began construction of a new Green Woodwork space / Outdoor studio. A more permanent structure that I needed to build by myself using only hand tools. Quite a task, but a  great site was found amongst coppice with tree shelter to protect against those prevailing South westerlies.

New Space Beginning to Take Shape

I decided to use chestnut posts for the uprights to protect against rot, but as I could only obtain posts 8′ long I had to raise the posts at the front on stone pads (Japanese style) to gain the height needed. Thanks to David Hurle for the advise how to go about this. The posts to the rear of the structure (on the right in the above photot) I could dig straight in with a base of hardcore at the bottom of the hole.

I used the structure for the new pole lathe as an additional brace for the largest central chestnut post. Note: the tripods of hazel used for the front posts are only temporary to provide stability during construction.

The horizontal crossbeams were made using Sitka Spruce (long and straight) that was left over from the straw bale house build on site.

Once the crossbeams were put into place (with help from a couple of willing friends :-)) then I could start putting the roof on. As this was an open sided structure it needed to be light but firm and I decided, after much thought about turf roofs, to go with a modern roofing material. I chose Coraline / Onduline as it was within budget, made from bitumised organic material, light, guaranteed for 15 years and easy to remove if necessary.

All in all I am very happy with the final result, and this summer saw a peaceful oasis of calm in the woods amongst a maelstrom of Olympic fervour.

Girls Go Wild! – July 2011

April 9, 2012

During the Summer holidays we were pleased to host at Plan-It Earth the Girls Go Wild! project, where 6 girls and their Mums were invited to take part in a 2-day camping and bushcraft adventure with loads of activities designed to increase participants confidence within the natural world, themselves and with each other.

Activities included:

  • Setting up camp with Bell Tents.
  • Wild Food Walk.
  • Wild Tea tasting with Netles, gorse flowers and Goosegrass.
  • Making Fire with strikers and matches
  • Safe campfire management.
  • Preparing and cooking fresh mackerel.
  • Camp cookery.
  • Storytelling.
  • Night walk with bat detector and moth trap.
  • Making natural herbal remedies and beauty treatments.
  • Slackline walking

For most of the participants this was the first time they had camped out and many of the activities were new to them. Here are some photos fgrom the two days…

Campsite Complete

Fire Demonstration

 

Wild Teas...Can you guess whats in them?

Lunch...yum yum

Moth trap on Night Walk

Slacklining

 

Taking the Tents Down

A great few days with all participants getting something out of the experience that they can take back to their own lives.

Many thanks to Rachel and David @ Plan-It Earth Eco project, Windrose for facilitating the herbal remedies and Julie for co-facilitating with me.

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Survival School – June 2011

April 9, 2012

Another school holiday and the Survival School opens for St Ives ECM to come along and make our own throwing spears from card and garden canes, which then are used to hunt “The Beast”.

Preparing to hunt "The Beast"

The Best is found. Aim! Fire!

 

This game helps participants learn new knots, tying & lashing, adapting and modifying spear designs, tracking and moving quietly; as well as learning to throw a spear!

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Survival School – April 2011

April 9, 2012

Another school holidy and another Survival School Day @ Plan-It Earth for St Ives Schools ECM.

This time we were passing on safe use of knives to make thowing sticks which were then tested out on the “tin can alley”.

Throwing the sticks on the range.

Lots of fun was had by all, blazing sunshine and some useful skills learnt.

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Bushcraft Day – 12th February 2011

April 9, 2012

We were pleased to host another Bushcraft day for the pupils from St Ives E.C.M. schools cluster.

The itinerary was Fire + Clean Water, passing on the following skills:

The weather on the day was atrocious! It poured down all day without even a break for 10 mins, but the kids were having a great time and coped amazingly well under difficult circumstances.

Hooray! Successful and safe firelighting.

It was also decided that nettle was the most exciting tea, gorseflower the most colourful and also the best taste…well thats what the adults thought anyway!!

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Green Woodwork Space – Mk II

March 23, 2011

During the harsh storms of December and January the original bender structure built to act as a shelter for the Green Woodwork space partly collapsed!!

Partly Collapsed bender structure looking very sorry for itself!

Lessons were learned and, as well as using more woven willow and hazel in the roof of the structure to give it strength and stability, I decided to also insert living willow uprights in-between the hazel already used. This provided a much stronger structure which will only grow in strength as it gets older (with a minimum of maintenance).

Bright and Happy Green Woodwork Space – Mk II

I wanted the space to provide lots of light, be made from found materials only, be open to having a fire inside and also provide shelter from the rain. The “living bender” structure created does all these things and is also adaptable to different weather conditions, where we can add tarpaulins if it is needed, and easily remove them if there is a long, hot summer (we wish!).

Inside the cosy new space

The new space enables me to permanently have the pole lathe set up without the worry it will get damp and wet. The bird poo on the lathe bed also indicates my avian friends are also enjoying the space, which brings a smile to my face.

The pole lathe set up (finally!)

Initially I wanted to have the pole lathe cord through the roof connected to a sycamore tree branch which stretches overhead. However, this meant I had to face the wall at the rear of the structure. Instead I decided to use a bungee cord wrapped around the horizontal roof strut.

Pole Lathe Bungee

The space is modifying and finding its own place within the orchard where it sits. I hope to document its development over the coming months and years.

What!? Another cup of tea?

NB; Tripod, chain and hook used in the photo above care of David the on-site blacksmith!

 

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Green Woodwork and Sustainability

March 23, 2011

I believe the starting point for any attempt at a sustainable community is to explore the existing resources of that community and develop effective strategies to maximise their usefulness for that community. This includes methods that will care for, maintain and maximise the natural life of those identified resources and the ecologies they are connected to.

At Plan-It Earth Eco Project we have lots of willow and hazel coppice that has been poorly managed in the past (or neglected) as no one person has dedicated the time needed to manage the resource over successive years. It is quite a commitment to become a coppicer as you need to get the trees into a coppice cycle and the crop takes 1, 2 or 3 years (or longer!) to come to harvest. How many people in this age of instant gratification can wait 3 years before they even begin to make the chair they have in their mind? Much easier to go out and buy the wood, make the chair and sell it in a few weeks.

However, for me the chair in the above example is simply the end product. The relationship built with the trees themselves, and the ecologies they are connected to, is the real goal. Out of this relationship new and surprising methods of economic production are created to the benefit of the trees, ecologies and the human community.

After spending the Winter and Spring cutting, snedding and sorting the willow it is time to look at what we can create out of the wood we have. There are varying sizes and quality of wood as much of the coppice has been cut over the Winter months to bring it back into rotation. After a great ‘Meeting of Minds’ with Rachel and David Smart Knight (who own Plan-It Earth Eco Project, the following projects were suggested for developing a work plan for the Summer months.

 

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