TreeStation’s 2016 – in a (big) nut shell!
Written by Dan Winter.
The TreeStation is a Social Enterprise working to make the very best use of timber produced as a by-product of woodland management and tree work – for fuel, timber and other uses. Make wood work!
Goodbye 2016! Despite it being an unheralded disaster on a global level (Brexit, childhood icons dying, Trump, the Toblerone gap saga), in the microcosmic TreeStation universe we’ve had a satisfying and productive year.
NEW TEAM: We were very sad to say goodbye to some of our longstanding employees this year as they went on to new and exciting ventures (Sam, Oli and Christian), but we also welcomed some fantastic new people to the TreeStation family at different junctures, in Fotios, Alec, Ben and Killian, all of whom all have settled in well as part of our team.
NEW CONTRACTS: We increased our treeworks across the Greater Manchester area, thanks to a combination of word of mouth promotion and new contracts with progressive Greater Manchester companies (such as Great Places Housing Association). We also increased both our firewood and timber sales on 2015, although as many of our regular customers will be aware of we’ve still had slight teething issues with our on site kiln.
NEW IDEAS: Patricia (our Community Engagement Officer) nurtured her ‘All About Trees’ initiative in several local primary schools and demonstrated, again, how important it is to engage with a new generation on the potential for sustainability and biodiversity in our local trees and woodlands.
Ultimately, it feels like we are growing as a Social Enterprise and have made significant progress towards our trade targets and meeting new collaborators.
OPEN DAYS: We held several TreeStation Open Days throughout 2016 in an attempt to draw in both further community engagement and new customers. With this we also gave a platform to some superb projects such as the Three Bee’s Cooperative (a co-operative of beekeepers, soap makers and environmental educators also based in Manchester – worth a look!). Each day was gratifying and well attended, giving us a base from which to build upon for the new year. They also featured excellent cakes (thanks to Phil’s mum & sister) a bouncy castle (on the days when it didn’t rain…)!
NEW CREATIONS: We continued to distribute our lovely kiln dried timber to an ever growing number of wood-workers, which would be worked into everything from unique door frames, table tops to unique bowls and waney edged shelving. We love seeing how creative people re-use our wood! You can see some beautiful examples sent to us on our increasingly popular instagram and facebook pages.
DUCK DAY: We increased our biodiversity credentials a little too close to home in May as, in our yard, one of our tree workers, Danny, noticed a mother duck and her four ducklings promenading around the timber stacks. Whilst a pleasing sight (with lots of “Awws” from Hannah), we hastily realised how dangerous a place to be it was for such vulnerable young animals, what with our heavy machinery, the noise and, most importantly for ducks, a distinct lack of water. Eventually, we managed to entice them into our hangar, and using a mix of guile and bread crumbs (mostly the bread…) we lured both mother and ducklings into a cardboard box, which we covered with a towel. We carefully drove to nearby Debdale Park to release them next the reservoir there. Luckily, both mother and ducklings were fine and, after a near miss with two ungodly sized Akita dogs (which could have been bears), they took to the water like ducks to…. well, you get the idea!
NEW FRIENDS: In the Summer Hannah, Patricia and I took part in a litter pick at Nutsford Vale which proved both interesting and rewarding. In fact, the Friends of Nutsford Vale (FONV) conduct regular litter picks and so I would highly recommend getting involved if you have the time, it does make a huge difference to the local ecosystem. You can see upcoming events here: http://www.fonvale.org/
FURTHER AFIELD: Later in the year, Hannah and Patricia also ran a stall at Hayfield Apple Day and engaged with other local businesses and the local public there, discussing our activities and giving us a further platform for new partnerships.
NEW GENERATION: In early November, we received a visit from the architecture students of the University of Liverpool, with our Managing Director, Phil, giving them a talk on what we do here, our ideology and how it can influence the future of architecture design and construction. We then gave them a full tour of the yard and of all of our sub-systems and processes. It was a superb opportunity, not just to show off our operation and demonstrate our skills in the industry, but to showcase our ethics and dedication to a sustainable future.
FEELING FESTIVE: In December, we completed our annual installation of Manchester City Football Club’s Christmas bauble, which brought with it some nice publicity (although, as a die hard Manchester United fan, I voiced my concern). We finished off 2016 with our always-entertaining Christmas Party, this time taking place at the vegetarian Indian restaurant, Sanskruti in Withington (I would highly recommend the Paneer Masala).
“You are never too old to set another goal, or dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis
NEW YEAR: As we enter the new year, with it’s frosty mornings and early nightfall, it’s important to look ahead to where we can maintain and improve the services we offer here at TreeStation and make 2017 an even more successful year than the last.
NEW & OLD PARTNERS: Our relationship with Unicorn Grocery is as strong as ever and we look forward to nurturing it further, as well as those with Village Stores and the Stove Room, who all stock our kiln-dried firewood. Ideally in 2017, we want to work with more contractors as this provides a steady and reliable income stream, especially for treework, and lets us demonstrate, in a business context, our ethics and passion for a sustainable arboricultural future for Manchester. We’re still the only business in Manchester that fully re-uses the wood it retains from its treework at this kind of scale. It’s more and more prominent for customers to have a local, traceable timber supply aside from the miscellaneous (and largely unsustainable!) supply available from most Manchester timber merchants and major chain stores.
LOOKING AHEAD: Working in the office, at this time of year it’s easy to watch the seasons fly by without really experiencing them. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for our yard staff or tree workers who have to deal directly with the cold, rain and snow on a daily basis. It’s safe to say that all of us are certainly looking forward to the warmer weather of Spring and Summer!
Happy New Year! Here’s hoping for a greener Manchester in 2017!
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