The committee has continued to meet over the lock-down period by audio conference where we have had the usual heavy load of subjects to discuss. The July meeting focussed on our group strategy, with our organisational structure an important topic.

Training is up and running, with chainsaw refreshes taking place soon and the first aid training Helen has planned almost upon us.

It was sad that TIMBER didn't happen this year, the weather on the planned weekend wasn't the best, but the National Forest and Wild Rumpus have put a great deal of effort into keeping the festival alive this year and already have next year in hand.

As always don't hesitate to contact us regarding any aspect of the group, your opinions and ideas are always valued.


Heartwood HQ Update

Since the last newsletter things have moved on at a pace. The lease has been signed for the woodland and to date two working party sessions have taken place. The landowner suggested the name of the wood should be changed to "Heart Wood" instead of the previous Fire Wood name. This really makes a statement for us, not only a base, but a woodland carrying our group name.

The first working party consisted of 6 people due to government restrictions on the numbers, but despite this a great deal was achieved cutting a route for the access along the track to the clearing where the base will reside. The second session consolidated this and completed the route and the main area where we plan to site the charcoal burner, log stores, storage sheds and an area for events.

We are now ready to start the move from Hall Farm, so with session number restrictions relaxed we plan to make that move happen.

Our first target to achieve is to have the event area ready for the 1st of two first aid training courses to be run there. The event on Saturday the 8th August still has spaces available, so please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are able to attend. As you will be aware we need good numbers of First Aid trained people to ensure our woodfuel sessions are viable.

Updates on progress and further sessions will come out as bespoke emails, so please get involved to get familiar with the site and how you might want to make use of it as an asset for us all.

Why not get involved and spend some time in this lovely woodland – tell us what you would like to do up there!

Heart Wood HQ

Heartwood Organisation

In the last newsletter we mentioned the ongoing review of how our group is set up and how we face up to a future of growth and diversification. The final proposal and detail will be covered in full at the AGM in September, but in order to make that an effective discussion we need all of our members to be involved in the discussion. Over the next couple of newsletters, and by specific email if required, we will give you the latest view of what we are thinking and how you can be involved.

There are three main areas within the group that are emerging as the important areas to manage.

  • Woodfuel Sessions- the "bread and butter" woodfuel sessions that we are all familiar with – These take a great deal of organising from the operational side of working out the plan to meet our grant objectives to turning up on the day with tools and equipment. This has always required a focused team of people working to make it happen, so we plan to formalize that team.
  • Heartwood Base Management - our new "Heart Wood" base. Although initially this will replace the base we had at Hall farm, we expect this site to become a "venue" for our group and as such will potentially have many aspects to it. Again requiring a small team to operate and develop it.
  • Nether Hall Wood - is a different "face" of Heartwood. As we mentioned in the communications on this some months ago, the Woodland Trust would like us to manage the site on their behalf. This will involve all sorts of exciting opportunities for us all and the positive response we got to the member pole at the time proved how much interest there already is in getting involved. This will become the public showcase for what Heartwood does.

All of these "sub groups" will be part of the main committee and their strategy and management will fall under the main group umbrella. However in order to make this work and to allow members the breadth to use what we have and to explore new opportunities the groups will have autonomy and accountability.

We still have lots to discuss on the organisation and value everyone's views and input, so please express your interest, concerns, ideas and suggestions during this development stage. Any one of the committee will be more than happy to discuss.

These are exciting opportunities for us all, we have a wide portfolio of woodlands to work in, so let's make the most of them.


As the government guidelines and the pandemic itself evolve we are keeping a close eye on how this affects us and potentially the start of the new season. Graham is our main man on this. He's already put a great deal of work into how we make our sessions "Good to go". The working party sessions have proved a useful testing ground for processes and have already highlighted improvements. By the time we get to the start of the season we are confident that our working practices will be solid and enable us all to attend woodfuel sessions in complete safety.

Another aspect we are watching is the position of the landowners. The Woodland Trust and Leicestershire Council are being very cautious when it comes to how many volunteers they are allowing into their woods, we will continue to monitor this and try to influence decisions wherever we can by demonstrating our safe approach.


Over the last two months we have had a small dedicated team running the charcoal burner 5 days a week. This has ensured all of the logs we had stored at Hall Farm have been converted to charcoal saving the effort of moving them to our new base. In the process we have made a considerable amount of charcoal which has given us an income despite the cancellation of TIMBER festival and our ability to make some of the craft products we had been planning during the summer.

We have also dipped our toe in the biochar market using some of the small charcoal which is a bi-product of the charcoal process.

Please help share our charcoal/biochar story with your friends and colleagues as this is planned to be an ongoing project in our new woodland base and a source of income for us.

Anyone who would like to learn about how we make our charcoal and come along to try their hand please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also note charcoal is available for members at reduced prices so contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.if you would like any for your own use. Member prices are £5 per box of charcoal and biochar is sold in smaller boxes at £3 per kilogram.

Heartwood Biochar