From Monday 15th to Friday 19th April, we're moving to the woods! We're heading to Redlees Park near Blantyre to set up our very own Bodger's Camp and spend the week demonstrating traditional woodland skills. Why? Because it's Bean pole week, where gardeners would stock up on sticks for supporting garden plants in spring, and we have a coppice to manage! Come along and visit us and lend a hand, stay for an hour or a few days!
Green Aspirations has been working at Redlees Park for the past four years cutting coppice. Coppicing is an ancient woodland management practice that produces a wide range of ecological benefits, wildlife habitats and sustainable timber products. The main crop at this coppice is Hazel. Woods are cut in rotation, usually on a seven or eight year cycle, creating a varied woodland habitat that's great for spring flowers and butterflies.
When coppice is well managed, a wide range of useful things can be produced, many largely forgotten. In the past, farming used huge numbers of woven fence panels known as hurdles, and there was a whole industry set up to make crates to move goods during the industrial revolution. Charcoal from coppiced woodland was a major fuel prior to deep pit coal mining and was a major employer in Scotland and the English Lake District. Leather tanning required large volumes of oak bark, which can also be coppiced, and gardeners have always needed plant supports such as pea sticks and bean poles.
As part of reviving these skills, Green Aspirations hosts a coppice apprentice. The three-year apprenticeship scheme teaches a wide range of woodland crafts and coppicing with the aim of increasing the number of people earning a living from coppicing and bringing coppice back into management.
During our week in the woods, you can learn about managing coppice, hand tools, charcoal making, hurdle making, pea sticks, bean poles, hedging stakes and thatching spars. We'll have plenty of traditional crafts to buy during the week, such as charcoal, pea sticks, bean poles and orders taken for garden hurdles. We'll also have handmade wooden spoons for sale.
We'll be camping throughout the week to look after the charcoal kilns and to gain an understanding of this traditional way of life. You are welcome to camp with us! We'll have food available for a suggested donation. Money raised through the event and sales of coppice goods will help us support apprentices and our wider social aims as part of Green Aspirations Scotland.