A coppice, or copse, is a stand of trees which are sustainably grown and harvested to provide ongoing wood for different uses. England and Europe have an amazing tradition of coppices – some are hundreds of years old.
Trees like hazel, willow and poplar ‘coppice’ – that is they can be cut down and readily grow again from the stump. In trug making we collect willow and hazel in the winter months when the trees are dormant, selecting good stems and then letting the stump (stool) send up new shoots. This is the same rotational harvest method that has been employed by trug makers, charcoal burners, chair makers, osier basket weavers and many others for millennia. John Seymour’s books on traditional crafts are an excellent introduction to this process.
Although aspen poplar does coppice, so far we have been able to mill the wood we need from windfall trees on adjacent farms. It is a win win situation, with the farmer wanting the tree cleaned up off his hay paddock, and us using the wood to make something beautiful. We are still planting more poplar for the future we can’t help ourselves; they are such beautiful trees.
Willow is in plentiful supply on local river banks but in recent years has taken a real thrashing from the black aphid which feeds off of the trees sap its excrement staining the wood and sometimes killing the tree. In consequence good willow is becoming scarcer and losses from replanting high.
Because of this we are in the process of planting our own hazel copse for the future. Hazel are an incredible tree of many uses. The wood is hardy and flexible with great tensile strength. Once established the stools form brilliant soil retaining meshes and the roots are superb filters for nitrogen run off from pasture. And let us not forget the very tasty hazel nut!
With every Trug purchased, a portion of the price goes into establishing a sustainable copse for the next generation. We are also active in farm forestry, riparian planting and alternative timber species. Trugs are not a business for us, they are part of a way of life and a healthy, sustainable future.