Maria Wilding, Communications and Development Officer for Llais y Goedwig, gives a flavour of proceedings at the Annual Gathering and AGM which brought together woodland community groups, social enterprises, experts in a range of relevant sectors and policy-makers. The two-day event was positively received with particular enthusiasm for the workshop sessions on funding and planning.
“This year’s Gathering incorporated an additional event on June 18th which was open to the public as well as to Llais y Goedwig members and Making Local Woods Work groups.
The Fair was around the theme of enterprising woodlands and showcased a range of activities, products and services that are helping local woodland enterprises to generate much needed income.
A survey undertaken in 2015, as part of the Startree project, showed that the biggest increase in non-timber enterprise in woodland in Wales was in experiential services – in particular in bushcraft and foraging courses.
The sweltering early summer Sunday saw around 120 people try out willow weaving with Forest School Wales, bushcraft skills with Earthbound and dyeing with natural materials with local practitioner Jenny Dingle.
The Woodland Classroom hosted a muddy play session for parents and toddlers as well as woodland circus skills to have a go at, and the Welsh Perry and Cider Society brought a stall and some cider and perry for people to taste.
Wild Pickings led a foraging walk around the trails at Denmark Farm and provided tasters of elderflower champagne as well as a range of their foraged products, and Dyfi Woodlands showcased their non-food fungi research project. Zena Wilmot from the MLWW group introduced the technique and results of spalting, the distinctive effects that fungus can leave in wood which produces unique markings and can increase the value of the wood.
The event was held at Denmark Farm, itself a social enterprise, with 30 acres of farmland including woodlands meadows and waterways, an eco-campsite, glamping yurt, 3 star eco and dormitory accommodation – the perfect location for an inspiring and thought provoking day.”