Category Archives: News

January 2018

The new year heralded  new signposts at Forest Harvest and some new projects.

We erected the sign in on a glorious day , spring -like, even with a rainbow to  finish the day gloriously.

We started to create a much needed inglenook around the fireplace; a few logs were needed to be moved but will provide a good supply of firewood and warmth sometime. {logs}

What created these fascinating patterns under the bark, that  we   only noticed when we moved the logs?

Who says theres not much to see in Winter?

December 2017

The Mill looked beautiful with the early December snow, enough to give the bees an insulated roof, but unfortunately too much weight for the poly-tunnel roof!

collapsed polytunnel

Winter solstice was cloudy, so the dawn chorus was delayed to nearly 8:00am. The Robin was the first voice, as is often the case in winter, followed by the Rooks adding their raucous calling  and cawing! There are interesting changes in the robin’s winter behaviour recently, already paired up, less fighting over territory. A sign of warmer winters, more fodder, or just a better rate of survival?

The Seasonal Decorations workshop was very enjoyable, with lots of experimentation and innovation!

On the 28th December Forest Harvest helped with the Dovehouse Community Gardens workshop, designed to clear the site, in preparation for the new project. It was good fun for all that came along,  lots of mince pies and leftovers but also exceptional apple wine from Jay to keep the cold out.
Anything useful was put on one side and a good fire was made to for the unsalvagable remains.

Some visual highlights in the woods this month, apart from the snow, were the Guelder Rose (Viburnum Opulus) berries,

the sunset, across the new clearing,

 and the low sun on the pond!

Anyone wishing to use Woodmill for a Photography shoot, is is welcome to get in touch. Even with inexpensive phone lenses, the results can be amazing.

The start of a new project for 2018, watch this space!

Happy New Year !

November 2017

Lots of Autumn projects started.

Tom & digger kindly cleared an area big enough to take the 10m x 5m marquee.

The new ‘Clearing’ is now ready to be sown with grass and meadow seed in the Spring.

No one realised the side benefit ; a beautiful view of the sunsets from the workshop.

Also started is work on the natural soil floor for the workshop. Great fun digging the clay from the site, then slipping and sliding around in wellies getting it flat enough for the kitchen. Linseed and possibly a bit of bees wax to seal it later.

Give us an email if you want to do some sliding too but most Mondays there is a group of us at the Mill.

Even started the Dovehouse Community Gardens project in Lichfield by advising on the plans to the new Committee. Tony one of our trustees will be on the committee to feed back any help they may need.

The first picture is of Sarah & Claire ready for action followed by the first bucket of weeds! Great start – long way to go!

£1500 has been kindly promised by Cambridge Water Company to Forest Harvest towards a wildlife friendly water collecting pond at Dovehouse through their Pebble Fund.
Another great start.

Can’t let November go without mentioning the beautiful weather again and the colours of Autumn at the Mill.

The water lily survived until the beginning of the month and also thriving is the  Mistletoe on the Bramley.

If you would like to join us in making some seasonal decorations from the natural resources in the woods,  we are running a half day workshop on Thursday 21st December, 10:00am to 12:30pm, cake and a hot drink provided.

See below some of the beautiful decorations made at a previous workshop.

Lots of decorations to take home, all for a donation to our cause, £15.00 recommended.
Let us know beforehand if you would like a vegan lunch for an extra £10.00?

October 2017

Hornets were about this autumn in abundance but not so many wasps.

Earlier in the year there was plenty of wasp activity; collecting wood-pulp for nests, so where they went is anyones guess.

The hornets didn’t go for the hives either but were busy looking for winter shelter in our polytunnel.

Although not  known to be in Staffordshire yet, watch out for the Asian Hornet. They are generally browner with one stripe and do not fly at dusk or after.
If you see one try to take a photo of it and contact your local bee keeper.

The bees slowed down their activities with the fall in temperature and were put to bed. To restrict access a black plastic size reducer was used for the doors. This reduces the chances of mice or large insects from hibernating in the hive damaging the comb and eating the winter stores. The Lichfield bees didn’t like the black plastic door and kept eating the wood so it was removed. Are the the town bees fatter and overfed compared to their rural counterparts at the Mill!!

The weather was weirdly warm so our bees continued to enjoy nectar and pollen from the ivy flowers.

On the 16th October, stranger still, was a pink sun and sky all day, caused by Saharan dust.  The rooks were preparing to roost in the gloom one minute, only to fly off to feed the next.

On the 28th October we held our Pumkin carving day, which proved to be a productive and fun-filled day, an Autumnal celebration of the very best kind with fabulous Pumpkin Soup, roasted pumpkin seeds, chestnuts and Nick’s fantastic Elderberry wine.

In October, Forest Harvest continued to help set up the Community Garden at Dovehouse with a leaflet drop to neighbouring housing. Householders were invited to an Open Afternoon to see the site and give ideas.
Around 30 visitors arrived with a few signing up for some growing spaces and others making some useful suggestions. It was decided that there was enough interest to set up a committee in November to take the project forward.

October is also a good time to plan for next year, lots of projects in the pipeline.
Contact us at to find out more.

September 2017

September is the first anniversary of the charity Forest Harvest. Although the wood itself is 30 years old; officially it was only one year old on 1st September.

This year has seen the site at Woodmill converted from an overgrown shabby bit of scrubland to a beautiful wood with a Visitor’s Centre, clear paths for visitors to enjoy the different areas of perennial planting, a shelter for teas and refreshments and a working earth closet and reed bed.

Forest Harvest

Thanks to all the volunteers who have made this happen; Judith, Rose, Tony, Helen and of course Tom & Eric with their lifesaving tractor & digger which enabled us to create the pond, the more accessible drive and the new clearing .

All the  objectives set out for the first year of the charity were met at Woodmill; with open days to the public, workshops on sustainable crafts,  fascinating discussions and beautiful meals.

The charity also succeeded in developing some ‘outreach work’ with talks to other organisations such as the WI and Low Carbon Lichfield, involvement with scouts and we also took a stand at the Lichfield Fuse Festival where there were thousands of visitors.

To further the Forest Harvest objectives, we also became involved in a Lichfield group wishing to convert a disused allotment site into a community asset. Forest Harvest attended the first meeting and was able to help with recommendations for permanent planting and wildlife habitats. Being near built up areas of mixed housing the site will make a great Centre for running workshops on horticulture and other crafts.

Very Exciting news in September was that Lichfield received a gold for the RHS City in Bloom.
The work making the Hugelkulture beds under the welcome signs and encouraging meadow planting played an important part. More involvement is planned for 2018.

There are now a number of people visiting us as a consequence of our entry in the National Forest leaflet and an application was made to the National Forest, for inclusion in the 2018 leaflet.

Another successful natural dyeing workshop in September, brought more visitors to Woodmill.

The bees had to be fed  some sugar solution but they worked hard themselves collecting nectar and pollen from the bumper harvest of ivy flowers this autumn. Ivy honey isn’t to everyone’s taste having a slightly bitter flavour, which is lucky because the bees will need it to go through the winter.

For humans the buttercup honey from the Spring is exceptionally good…. Cup of tea & toast calls!

August 2017

The bees in the woodland hives were very busy in August but the very mixed weather and cold nights has made it a less than average year for honey.

Bee Hive

The 2017 swarm was too busy growing to give any spare honey but the two year old swarm from the Market Square provided around 20 lbs of woodland honey. The Lichfield urban hive provided the same; not much in total but enough to replace the stock sold to the kind members of the Coven WI who bought in July and to raise some money for the charity.

The Open Day on August 20th saw numbers grow to 30, with locals enjoying seeing how the bees live and to see the forest harvest. There were apples, plums, pears, damsons in the orchard, plenty of beans, squashes, sweetcorn and potatoes in the raised beds, raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, hazel nuts, walnuts, meddlers and quinces in the forest garden.
Open day

Of course humans weren’t the only visitors to the Mill in August, swallows and swifts during the day enjoyed a feast from the wildlife pond, the bats enjoying the same food source at night.

Lovely dragon flies and damselflies also flourished.

August was a good month to end Forest Harvest’s year, and first year as a charity.
It was felt by the trustees and the regular volunteers that everyone’s expectations had been met and targets reached.
The Charity has already reached out to other organisations and communities but the focus in 2018 will be to further develop these links and grow new ones.

Talking about future projects, the first Dovehouse Fields meeting is on 1st September to decide if it will be possible to help develop a community garden here in Lichfield, where some old allotments had been abandoned?

Dovehouse Fields

July 2017

Planting continued at the Mill during July, with marginals around the pond to encourage wildlife dye plants in the raised beds and plants in forest garden to show visitors how growing can produce useful products sustainably, while improving the environment and reducing the use of chemicals.

We made contact on 7th July with a group called Low Carbon Lichfield (loCal) who have many aims in common with Forest Harvest. We therefore hope that some joint projects can be started in 2018. A film night organised by loCal to see “Demain” was inspirational, showing how positive change can be brought about by groups in education, agriculture, finance and industry.
Thank you loCal.

In July, Forest Harvest demonstrated at the “Fuse Festival”, organised by Lichfield Arts in Beacon Park. With thousands of visitors it was possible to meet people from all over the Midlands to spread the word of sustainability, raise some finance by selling some jars of honey, fill some places on our educational courses and enjoy the music.
Everyone is looking forward to next year.

A highlight in July was a beautiful evening at Greensforge Sailing Club, giving the scouts from the Cannock 1st Blackford Sea Scouts sailing training.
Left the coracles behind but lots of fun.

The first Eco Printing course on Monday 17th went well at the Mill with lots of interesting fabrics and colours produced.

Being one of the first full courses run at Woodmill, rather than the Oaks, it highlighted
improvements needed to further the enjoyment of visitors. A chimney for the stove is a must during the Autumn, to improve the efficiency of the stoves during the dyeing process and to direct the smoke away from the building.

An Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar was a very welcome visitor during July.
Is she pretending to be a broad bean?

Also new in July was involvement in the Lichfield in Bloom Competition.
There are three judging categories; horticulture, the environment and community.
With some funding from the Blooming Lichfield Group we were able to build 3 Hugelkultur beds at the entrances to the City.
This made a contribution to all of the categories, involving growing flowers for their colour and longevity, choosing plants that are insect friendly in a bed using natural sustainable waste. The beds were built by volunteers from the community and as such are educational.

Fingers crossed for RHS results in September

June 2017

On the 11th June volunteers from Forest Harvest helped out at the Curborough Community Garden, digging in compost and planting out small seedlings. These were from a stock of plants sown by schools and groups using the Centre. Kim, the manager from Curborough, was very pleased with the help and knows it will encourage others.

At the Mill it was late but the Elderflowers lingered enough to make some Elderflower lemonade and champagne.
There was a summer buzz in the air, not only from the bees enjoying the buttercup field opposite but from all the life in the wood.
Lots of nesting birds; ducks making the most of the water in the new Woodmill pond, Wren and Robin enjoying the semi wild areas, Flycatcher in the Forest Garden, Dunnocks and Blackbirds everywhere.

On Friday 16th June it was another volunteer day, preparing for the Open Day on 17th. Enjoyable time for all, with leisurely tea breaks and time at lunch to chat. Tables were prepared for activities, and books spread out for visitors to browse. Strimming of paths trying to avoid the small young trees was quite a challenge but rewarding when the result brings the Mill together.

The Open Day couldn’t have been better; beautifully sunny and over 25 visitors.
There was opportunity for visitors to see the dye plant bed, the rotation of crops or just
to sit drinking tissanes and eat some cake.

With the new planting and different habitats more wildlife thrives at the mill. Butterflies and moths seem to enjoy the abundance.

May 2017

The weather was perfect for the launch lunch on the 7th.
Thanks to Helen for the fabulous cake and Judith for the edible flowers.

Guests were shown round the different areas of the wood to introduce them to the idea of Permaculture and demonstrate the biodiverse habitats in the Forest garden.
Great ideas were generated for our first official open day on Saturday 17rd June.

The first swarm of the year arrived on a small hawthorn between the orchard and Tom’s Pumpkins on 12th May.
Seen walking in an orderly fashion into their new nucleus home.

A request came in April about any spare beeswax to make food wraps.
It was great to be able to help out with a really rewarding few hours cutting small squares, painting on the wax/oil mix and drying the fabric.

Having practiced a few recipes, times and temperatures got some final success; ready for a mini course in the Spring next year when we will be harvesting more wax.
The wraps actually work, and came in useful making snacks for the local circular walks organised by the National Forest Company.

Richard gave us an evening treat on the the 16th showing us some 500 year old trees at Brankley Pastures. A glimpse into what the original Needwood forest looked like?

Thanks to Jane too for the Jackson Bank walk on the 19th, some evidence still of the “Doris Day” gale.

Lots to do, so if you can spare an hour or so, guides and tea makers always wanted or if you want to find out about one of our many other projects, please get in touch.
We are taking part in a Citizen Science from soil to soil project organised by the University of Dundee

April 2017

Everything growing as if it is May!

Orange tip butterfly enjoying the early nettle growth and forget-me-nots.

Orange tip butterfly

Also peacocks and some speckled woodland.

Re-tarring the coracles for the Blackfords Sea Scouts.

Re-tarring the coracles

And it was a great Sunday on the water, warmer than most summer days!

The hot weather woke the bees up with the Lichfield Market Square swarm roaring away with healthy brood, second super started already.

Gave the curborough swarm a good clear including some brood frames which sadly have to be burnt in case of disease. They seem better for it and have just starting their first super.

Still lots to do for the open days so do come along and help if the mood takes you?