Of the wood project
Helping visitors to understand and connect to Thorncombe Wood and how it is managed.
About the project
Of the Wood aims to involve marginalised communities through practical and creative workshops in wood craft and woodland conservation whilst having a positive outcome for an individual's general health and wellbeing. By linking with established organisations which support marginalised members of our community, Thorncombe Wood has become a safe and familiar hub for people to take part in inspiring activities which can become part of mental health recovery or give meaningful purpose to those with learning difficulties.
The Of the Wood Ranger has been busy with new and exciting ways to encourage our targeted groups to take part in woodland based activities.
Working with Dorset Forest School to make forest school kits for local school children was great fun. Everyone got stuck into making holly mallets, tent pegs, boundary markers and wood cookies. All the wood used was arising's from our woodland management of Thorncombe Wood LNR. BBC Radio Solent came out to see everyone at work.
During the summer, the groups helped the Rangers with bracken removal from the heathland, maintaining visitor path ways by creating dead hedges as well as helping to maintain and conserve the Roman Road which cuts through the Nature Reserve.
Working with Toby Hoad from Greenwood Workshop in the late summer was also inspiring. For many it was the first time they had used draw knives and the Gypsy flowers people made were beautiful. Everyone also had a go at making simple plant dippers and a hurdle from hazel. The hazel was coppiced from our coppice earlier in the year and Of the Wood contracted Toby and his horse Fleur to bring the wood out of the reserve down to the workshop area near the visitor centre.
Of the Wood has also delivered a series of Dementia friendly walks working with Stepping into Nature.These walks have received amazingly positive feedback from attendees and their carers. Using the senses to explore the woodland, Dementia friendly walks are aimed at getting people living with Dementia out of doors and having contact with nature.
We are currently working with Karen Hansen to design and construct a 'sculptural' bench which helps the visitors to capture and enjoy the sounds of the nature reverse. The 'Sound Seat' is being made from sweet chestnut, felled as part of management to the woodland, and is being hand crafted as much as possible by the Of the Wood participants. The lengths of sweet chestnut have now been split (by hand) and are being de-barked using large tools and hand tools such as draw knives. The design will come together in the coming months and will be placed up by Rushy Pond for all to enjoy.
Of the Wood provides new opportunities for people from all walks of life to be inspired by their local woodland while improving their general health and wellbeing. Contact us if you would like to find out more about how you can be involved.