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This April, the Coppice Association North West (CANW) is filling Farfield Mill Arts and Heritage Centre, near Sedbergh, with innovative and traditional woodcrafts for an exciting and interactive event – ‘Working Woodlands: the Story of Coppice’.
Coppicing – cutting broadleaf trees at ground level – results in numerous new tree shoots re-growing again and again from the cut stump. It’s totally sustainable and has a huge impact on wildlife, encouraging seeds to germinate, and insects and birds to flourish in the sunny glades created. Its benefits extend to people, too, providing employment, training and learning opportunities for all ages.
This month-long event at Farfield Mill is a celebration of what coppicing offers, with daily demonstrations of coppice crafts, such as wood turning, wood carving, chair-making, basket-weaving and hurdle-making, and an invitation to have a go –including activities for children every day of the Easter holidays.
Sam Ansell, CANW Secretary and independent coppice manager said: “We want people to come along and experience the excitement and creativity of working with green wood, find out more about coppicing – and get stuck in!”
Local artists whose work will be on display include Tina Balmer, Sally Bamber, Fiona Clucas, Judy Evans, Brian Fareday, Richard Foster, Martin Greenland, Laura Pendlebury, Eva Ullrich, Charley Whinney, Beverley White, Alan Stones, Rebecca Payne and Janette Phillips. Woodland craftspeople displaying their work include Paul Girling, Owen Jones, Phil Bradley and many more.
Old coppice woodland, especially in the south of Cumbria, was once worked extensively for a host of important products: charcoal for iron smelting and gunpowder; wood props for iron mining; oak for shipbuilding; oak bark for leather tanning; and wood for barrels, brooms – and bobbins, which may well have been used at Farfield Mill. Throughout this long history of coppice management, the woods provided employment for much of the rural community, until the fifties, when plastics replaced many of the traditional coppice trades.