Holt Wood Archive

Photos from the earlier years of establishing our permaculture design

Planning a permaculture design involves looking at the environment and resources available. We have often adapted natural resources found throughout the wood. For example we have moved stones to form a track, chipped mulch from unwanted shrubs, and diverted water for storage to use when needed.

We purchased Holt Wood in 2004, when it consisted mainly of Sitka Spruce that were coming up to 40 years old, all beautifully straight trunks. At first we were not thinking about permaculture and medicinal woodland. After some hairy experiences with guys who claimed to be able to fell trees (and we believed them) we were fortunate to find a local forestry contractor who agreed to clear the site and take the trees for timber and chipping.

We had to make some decisions and drew up a plan with permaculture principles which created a dozen coppice sections. We  were able to invite our local forestry contractor back to install a deer fence around the wood perimeter, and we marked up planting sites in 2005. It was great to have volunteers helping us as there were over 1000 trees to plant, each marked with a bamboo cane and a plastic spiral guard.

Once the initial planting of trees was complete, we could look around and discover the woodland as it grew, and invite visitors to see what we were up to. But maintenance was important, including making sure that weeds were kept down and water courses were clear.

Over the years we have been able to make improvements such as adding a tool store, and to experiment further with cultivation techniques such as pollarding of willows. The wood has proved very productive in fuel, fruits and nuts as well our harvesting of medicinal tree barks and other herbs. As part of our ongoing woodland management plan we aim to show how sustainable supplies of natural ingredients can be produced in the UK, and be used in artisan production of herbal cosmetic and other products.

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