To know almost nothing about everything is better than knowing almost everything about nothing

My trip to England and Scotland from 25/4 to 24/5 was mainly a holiday with a spattering of work. In general, my goal was to find out more information about oak coppicing and especially the reasons for not doing it. Logs from oak coppice are wonderful as the foundation for shii-take logs. Producing muli-stems from a low sawn off tree stump is not only a very sustainable system (short production cycle without killing the tree) but it also favorable for biodiversity and sequestering carbon. Include the added value as Edible Wood then it seems to make a lot of sense to me to encourage this old management practice. Another goal was to find other like-minded people with a professional passion for making Edible Wood so as te be able to exchange tips and experiences.

The search started in Devon, southern England, with a visit to the edible forest garden of Martin Crawford. At the end of his guided tour he showed us his version of edible wood and it was obvious due to the way that the shii-take logs were being kept that they were just a small part of the whole story. After catching up with a couple of English forestry – landscape architect colleagues several days later and hearing a little more about the current (food) forestry situation I began to doubt if I was on the right track. Two weeks later, this premonition was confirmed during an afternoon with a forest owner in southern Scotland. She was part of the Coppice Products group and proudly showed me her hazel coppicing project and informed me about the possibilities of coppicing other broadleaved species. Oak was not one of them. I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I was probably several hundred years too late (or I just did not find the right connections) for examples about oak coppicing. Despite an extensive search on internet and inquiring around I also had to conclude that there were unfortunately no other similar companies like Groene Takken in Great Britain.

Not finding any concrete answers left me feeling uneasy and uncertain. What did this mean? Was I barking up the wrong tree with my coppice idea? – perhaps. Had Groene Takken evolved into a super specialized company that could not be imitated? – unlikely. Did it mean that I was too subjective and headstrong? – who knows. Or did it mean something else? After at least two whole minutes of soul-searching (two minutes were more than enough because, after all, it was my holiday) I decided to relish the idea that I at least, apparently, knew some things about a number of subjects that other people did not know (or want to know). And even though I could not expand on this field of knowledge at that time, I felt that it was better to know a few things than to know nothing at all. And on I went enjoying my time exploring new places and secretely still searching for those allusive answers in the quite moments of the day ……

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