We had a great time today with Rich Ely of Greenwood Craftsman visiting his area of Coppicing woodland in Sussex. We went there to learn about the processes and byproducts involved in regenerative Sweet Chestnut Coppicing. The amount of work that goes in at every stage is extraordinary and it really struck us how responsible and resourceful his process is. Every piece of wood cut and carved serves a purpose from handcrafted Pergolas, benches, and rustic trellis through to firewood, and everything that can’t be used for firewood becomes sustainable bbq charcoal, biochar for nutrient rich soil and even chicken shed ash to keep mites at bay, nothing is wasted. The Coppice stools grow back immediately each time the trees are cut and wildlife takes refuge in all levels of the woodland from cut wood on the ground and new plants in glades flooded with light, to bushy trees that were cut 2 years before all the way through to the ceiling of tallest trees. All around the edges of the work area the cut Chestnut is carefully and beautifully organised into neatly stacked piles which are grouped into similar lengths, diameters and off cut sizes. In the middle is a large charcoal making kiln and a smaller one used for biochar is off to the right. Handmade wooden tools, jigs and benches used for Greenwood crafting are dotted around the kilns, and while Rich worked on some Greenwood crafting with his daughter it really felt like a magical place to be wandering around.
We have lots more to say about this visit and lots of great photos to add so stay tuned.