On the 17th of June up to twenty traditional timber-frame carpenters will descend on Harmony Woods, Andover for 4 days of ‘hewing’ (shaping wood with an axe) locally-felled Test Valley timber, to create the 6m posts that will provide the main roof supports for Andover Trees United’s woodland classroom. A further 60 logs of local cedar and larch will be milled on site with a mobile sawmill. Once the hewing and milling has finished a smaller team of carpenters will return to the woodland for 5 weeks 7th July-8th August to hand-process the rafters, beams and braces for the sustainable timber-frame building.
The Cabin, which has been part of the vision of the woodland project from the outset, will be mastered by the Carpenters’ Fellowship, a group of the best timber-frame carpenters practicing in England today. Tim Potts, the Carpenters’ Fellowship project manager is delighted to be involved. “When we were invited to be a part of this project I could immediately tell that it was going to be another fantastic communal experience. Members and volunteers will be coming from far and wide to produce something really special together. I fully expect it to be emotional!”
The process will culminate in a ‘raising’ event over the August Bank Holiday weekend, when members of the Fellowship will return to hoist the timbers and construct the frames in situ.
“It’s an incredible display of craft and workmanship” explains project leader, Wendy Davis “the easiest way to describe the process is to point you towards the 1985 Peter Weir film, Witness. There is an amazing scene where a group of Amish community carpenters, including a young Harrison Ford, construct the wood frames for a barn by hand and raise these frames using ropes before securing them together to make the building. Although not exactly the same process as ours will be, it gives you an idea of what to expect ”
The charity is calling out for local volunteers to join the ATU team to support the carpenters with catering, clearing and chipping the wood waste generated during the hewing and milling, generally keeping the site tidy, security and day runners. “A support team is a vital part of the build” says Wendy “we have the carpenters to make it and now we need the volunteers to make it happen!”
“The carpenters will be onsite for a total of 35 days between mid-June and the end of August and during these days we need many helping hands to keep the build team well-fed and watered” explains Wendy. “And if there are any individuals with a keen interest in sustainable building practice who would like to be more directly involved, there will be opportunities to work alongside the carpenters at all stages of the construction and we would urge you to get in touch so we can put you in contact with the Carpenters’ Fellowship to book a place.”
Once completed, the off-grid woodland classroom will be a facility for everyone from local schools and colleges, community volunteers, artists and crafters and other community groups. Five years in the design & planning (and fundraising), the Cabin will mark the 10th year of the woodland project which began in 2012 when local school children were joined by Princess Anne to plant trees in the middle of an ex-farm field on the outskirts of what is now the new Augusta housing estate. The new woodland, which after the final planting this coming winter will boast over 10,000 UK native trees, wildflower meadows and a wildlife pond, is a huge success story for the local community, schools and regular volunteer team who have carried out all of the work.
Test Valley Borough Council Leader, Phil North said “I know how much time and effort Wendy and the whole team from Andover Trees United have put into this important project and Andover should be very proud of everything that has been accomplished at the Harmony Woods site over the last 10 years.”
Projects like Andover Trees United are vital if we are going to bring everyone onboard and meet the new-world leading targets to halt species decline and treble tree planting by the end of this parliament announced by Environment Secretary, George Eustice last week.
“The entire project epitomises the idea of ‘building back greener’ – wild habitat being introduced to farmland, mitigating the impact of climate change through tree planting and reconnecting young people and the community with the natural environment – there should be a Harmony Woods in every town across the country” says John Tucker, Director of Woodland Outreach for the Woodland Trust.
The Cabin project has been funded by the Postcode Lottery, Hampshire County Council, Test Valley Borough Council, Stannah, Ocado & The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation plus crowdfunding donations.
To get involved with the build of the cabin please contact firstname.lastname@example.org