August Update

Despite the poor end to the summer in terms of weather, we are well ahead of target with our charcoal sales – who knows what we will achieve in a hot sunny summer? Being realistic, the August Bank Holiday weekend most likely signifies the end of our peak charcoal season but it is likely that we will continue burning into October to ensure that we have adequate stocks over the winter for those customers requiring year round supplies. We continue to receive very positive comments about the quality of our charcoal from a variety of sources and we are sure that we can expand the market within the Forest next year. In anticipation we are working on a “Charcoal Operator’s Manual” and will be looking to train up those of you who are interested to take some of the load off Dave and Derek next year – it’s very easy. In the meantime, a big thank you to all of you who have helped us over the spring and summer, many of whom have ended up looking like coal miners on bagging days!

As we move forward into the autumn, we will be concentrating on conservation work and have already made a start by removing seedling sycamore by the first ride on the left from the Beechen Lane entrance, which is choking out both hazel and bluebells. All future events in the Events Diary will focus on conservation tasks, of which there will be many ahead of our main coppicing season which will commence from mid October onwards.

A new list events are now online in the Events Diary so get ready for those bow saws and loppers again and get plenty of fresh air and exercise – it’s cheaper than the gym!! As we get nearer to each event we will endeavour to provide more details of the work proposed. Depending on demand from our outlets we may also be undertaking a charcoal burn on some of these days.

On other fronts, our seven panel display unit that we used at the New Forest Show has been on display in Romsey Abbey for a month alongside a display of wood art/sculptures from various exhibitors (including Perry’s three legged Pondhead stools). We also attended a Volunteer Information Day recently at Old Mutual (formerly Skandia) in Southampton who are giving their staff a day off annually to undertake voluntary work and received a good level of enquiries.

On 11 August we were visited by the judges from the CPRE (Council for the Preservation of Rural England) Hampshire Countryside Awards (Community & Volunteers) for which we have been shortlisted which seemed to go well but we will not know the outcome until the awards ceremony on 25 September. Thanks to all those volunteers who turned up on the day.

On the community front Dave has recently worked in Pondhead with our first young offender and we will be looking to do a few more of these this in due course when time permits. We will also be welcoming shortly another local charity which aims to help people with mild mental heath issues to experience “art in the woods”. They will use Pondhead as their base on alternate Wednesdays and will also be using Pondhead artist charcoal for some of their work.

Finally, we are accumulating large stocks of biochar. Biochar comprises the small particles of charcoal that drop through our 1cm x 1cm sieve during the bagging process and these small particles are becoming increasingly popular in improving garden soils and sold as such. As we need to free up space in our storage shed prior to winter, we are offering those avid gardeners among you the opportunity to acquire some for free. If you would like a small dumpy bag of biochar (about 17kg) please let us know and you can pick it up on one of our conservation tasks. Further information on its beneficial properties and how to apply it can be found by clicking here.

That’s all for now but don’t forget to check out the Events Diary. – sorry no pics this month

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