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InFocus: Creating more woods

PUBLISHED: 12:59 17 October 2014 | UPDATED: 15:59 21 October 2014

The Woodland Trust is helping smallholders with a scheme to plant more trees

The Woodland Trust is helping smallholders with a scheme to plant more trees

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The Woodland Trust is helping smallholders with a scheme to plant more trees

From environmentally aware to living the rural dream, one family in Bodmin have transformed their lifestyle and perspective on the future, simply by planting trees.

Kevin and Sara Marsh initially planted trees at their five acre smallholding in Cornwall as woodfuel for the biomass boiler they installed in December 2012.

These trees have since marked the beginning of a long-term labour of love that will not only improve their landscape and increase wildlife habitats, but also provide them with food and revenue.

The Marshes were inspired to create their woodland after organising a number of community tree planting events through the Woodland Trust. The Trust has since worked with the family as part of its MOREwoods scheme to provide funding and advice on how and where to plant their trees, plus continued support on caring for them as they grow.

In total, the Marshes planted 1,600 trees and shrubs of 14 varieties, including hazel and willow that will be coppiced for firewood and rotated every five to ten years. An orchard has also been incorporated, with the crab apple, hawthorn, dog rose and cherry trees adding to the family’s autumnal harvests.

Trees are also set to improve the drainage of land in a lower field which is particularly boggy, and shrubs around the edges of the fields will create breaks in the often-high winds.

Although it will be a few years before Kevin and Sara will be able to harvest trees for fuel and food, the short-term wildlife benefits are already clear to see. This year already goldfinches, breeding barn owls and buzzards have been spotted in the area – which could be due to an increase in the small mammal population now living amongst the new trees.

Another exciting element of the Marshes’ tree planting venture is their ‘almost wild’ camp site that’s set to unzip its doors in August 2015.

The site is located on the couple’s top field and will offer a spectacular setting amongst the new trees. People can visit saintswaycamping.co.uk for more information about how to book in time for next summer’s grand opening.

Kevin said: “Visitors will have the opportunity to help care for the trees and learn a little more about why woodlands are important to us, as well as enjoy campfires, amazing views and the landscape around us.”

For Kevin and Sara, what began as a project to supply them with woodfuel, has grown into an exciting, profitable and poignant venture that’s transformed their outlook on life.

Sarah continued: “It’s a unique and quite emotional feeling to be planting oak trees alongside your eight-year-old daughter thinking that in 80 years’ time, I will be gone, my daughter could well be a great grandmother and still the tree will be ‘young for an oak’.

“It gives one a sense of how temporary and short our own lives are but, by contrast, how our actions can easily impact beyond our life. With that comprehension we have become much more focused on making those impacts positive.

“The ‘good life’ is what our friends say…and although it’s said with a slight tongue in cheek tone, I can see a flicker of well-meaning envy in their eyes!”

MORE: To find out about the support and advice available from the Woodland Trust, visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees

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