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It’s now been three months since I joined the Plunkett Foundation. In order to bring me up to speed with the Woodland Social Enterprise sector I’ve been lucky enough to get out and visit a number of our participant groups to learn more about the range of activities being delivered by WSE’s and how MLWW supports their work.

During this time Norman and I have visited Wild Rumpus, Brown Rock Farm and Eden Rose Coppice Trust. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit Hill Holt Wood, attended the Llais Y Goedwig annual gathering and met a number of other groups at the ‘hubs’ event at Greensand Trust. There’s been a lot to learn and the variety of the organisations, their resources and locations has been particularly eye-opening. The Woodland Social Enterprise sector is diverse.

Wild Rumpus, for example, has been able to use their key creative strengths to design a wonderful, sustainable space and turn the woodland into a workspace. Although they do have a workshop for developing sets and props much of their work takes place in an array of different structures; caravans, a roundhouse, a treehouse for meetings. Sarah Bird, Wild Rumpus Director, believes the natural setting means they and their staff are happier and healthier and we could see why!

Brown Rock Farm is a beautiful space, complete with an incredible timber viewing platform and sturdy roundhouse. The woodland has a range of natural features and Director Adrian Brooks has a great vision for its development and management. In line with many of our groups, Adrian has been able to put his incredible entrepreneurial and networking skills into action to develop a portfolio of organisations, events and activities using the woodland in a positive way.

Our visit to Eden Rose Coppice Trust was wonderful. Directors Jo and Rob Brooks showed us their two woodlands and firewood store. In particular we found their dedication to transforming really challenging sites (environmentally, social and economically) to be inspiring. They are taking exceptionally degraded woodlands and giving them a new lease of life. Their vision for the future of these spaces is extraordinary and their tenacity in the face of adversity is inspiring.

Rounding off the recent trips has been a visit to Hill Holt Wood which was just fantastic. A welcoming and positive place which demonstrates its sustainable ethos with every aspect of delivery – right down to the sawdust briquette maker also featured in the newsletter this month. CEO Steve Donagain and Head Ranger Ben Wilson were my guides around the site which showcases the best of sustainable design, construction, woodland management and a whole host of other services.

Thank you to all who have hosted us over the last few months. It’s been an awesome introduction to woodland social enterprise and we look forward to meeting more of our inspirational participant groups in the coming weeks.

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