Logs galore

Last week two hired tree workers went to work in my designated forest plot. Innumerable coppice stumps with their many thin small tree stems had to be felled. The two young men started their workday when the first rays of the sun began to warm the thin layer of snow on the ground and ended when the light began to fade and their bare arms began to feel the first tentacles of the chilly evening air. Although they worked hard and consistently they were unable to clear the whole plot of 8 x 100 m. Just a small stroke was left which was nothing to be ashamed of. Each coppice unit had to be handled with care so as not damage the highly-valued stump and each tree had to be handled with respect as well. The bark had to remain intact so that the bark could continue to protect the wood against any unwanted fungus infection and make sure that the inner wood would not dry out too quickly. The logs were cut into lengths of 100 cm, a nice measurement that is easy to transport and to handle in the Edible Log Farm.

These trees were part of an age-old forest management practice known as coppicing. This traditional method has been carried out consistently on this particular privately owned estate for the last two hundred years. This is real sustainable forestry. The stump will rejuvenate energetically this growing season and produce many stems (thin tree trunks) with an (estimated) average diameter of 16 cm during the next 20 years. The coppice grows relatively quickly for an oak tree which results in a lot of sapwood, just right for Edible Wood. Sapwood provides a good environment for fungi, mainly because of the high moisture content and suitable internal transportation possibilities / lack of fungus resistant obstacles. Working in the winter is a good time for harvesting logs because most fungi are dormant and not producing spores which otherwise travel around and end up on these potentially suitable food sources.

My plot is just one of a long row of similar plots, shoulder-to-shoulder, each plot separated from the other by red and white barrier tape, otherwise undifferentiated. Each plot is cleared by a trusted experienced forest worker, most often a local who has worked this way for many a year following a set pattern. Everyone as access to their plot until halfway through March. Only one thing is different,  my fellow forest workers harvest the trees for firewood, mostly for their own use. I do something different. The trees on my plot are turned into a food source for selected hungry fungi which are then consumed as mushrooms by appreciative humans. Once the sugars have been depleted the soil organisms move in to continue the rotting process. The tree becomes part of the soil. Sharing and caring = Edible Wood.

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