Alternative structures, Coppice products, Green woodworking, Softwood and Hardwood Timber, Hurdles, Fencing, Learning outside the classroom, Forest schools, Bushcraft, Ancient history, Alternative structures, composting toilets.
Introduction In 2013 I was lucky enough to acquire conygar coppice. This served as an impetus for me to follow my dream of setting up a company with three core themes, bespoke and tradition greenwood projects, building alternative structures, and educating outside the classroom. Conygar coppice became the name of this business. I left my position at the Ancient technology centre, where i had worked for 8 years teaching ancient history through rural crafts, and embarked on what has proven to be an interesting and challenging adventure.
The woodland Conygar coppice is an ancient woodland which would have once been coppice and standard, details are sketchy. The woodland was originally part of the Pitt rivers estate and in the early 20th century was a mixed woodland with conifers, broad leaved standards and coppice understory. By the the late 1960’s the coppice had been replanted to conifers namely Douglas fir and European larch with a perimeter remaining, 100 year old Oak standard are scattered throughout. The plan is to bring it back to its original state using permaculture principles, introducing a greater variety of species and future proofing the woodland by adding species such as chestnut, walnut and some fruit trees. I also plan to increase public access to the woodland by using it as a base for courses and education/ training sessions, wild camping and other leisure activities. The name of the woodland means Rabbit warren, after roman introduction, rabbits were kept in enclosures. This practice persisted into the medieval period. They were originally known as Connies, a rabbit was a young connie.
The proprietor (Anthony Brown) After leaving school relatively unqualified I completed a HND in biology followed by a degree in Applied Ecology and then I qualified to become a science teacher. This didn’t work out as I found working full time in the school environment intolerable, I then began volunteering in conservation setting up an education programme in a local nature reserve. I learning lots of rural crafts including coppicing, hedge laying and hurdle making. Eventually I securing a job as an education officer for Groundwork Hackney running a pilot safe routes to school programme funded by Transport for London. When the project had finished I moved to Swindon to become the Wiltshire project officer for the British trust for conservation volunteers. In 2004 my wife Clair and I went on a years round the world trip where I developed an interest in native crafts and anthropology. On my return I secured a job as a Tutor at the Ancient technology centre where I learned a huge amount about rural crafts, building techniques and customs which built upon my existing knowledge. In 2013 I qualified as a Level 3 forest schools practitioner. The forest schools kinesthetic approach underpins the way in which I like to work with young children and adults. I was working in a forest schools way before the term forest schools was popularised. I also believe that the permaculture movement holds the key to a move towards a sustainable future for all and try to run my business with permaculture principles in mind.
Whilst with the BTCV I became interested in green woodworking and working with wood generally, this is where my passion lies, spending time in the woodland educating people about it, passing on skills and selling woodland products.