Grassroots NI – October Wood

We had such a wonderful time at the weekend once again working with the super Grassroots NI team. After a night of torrential rain and a grey start to the day I wasn’t sure if the planned work was going to go ahead but thankfully the sun broke through and blue skies made a very welcome appearance so off to the woods we ventured!

We gathered at October Wood, a privately owned and very beautiful woodland complete with numerous workshops where lots of exciting projects are beginning to get up and running. We had been invited along by the owner, Alexey, to help build a composting toilet and despite our family never having even attempted such a thing we were excited to get involved, learn new skills and be part of the project. As ever, we were made so welcome and included which is such a lovely thing to be part of.

Needless to say there were plenty of tasks to share out among the group – de-nailing the salvaged wood to be used as flooring and cladding, measuring, sawing, debarking trees to be used as posts, building steps and a structure, while some of us were also given the job of sawing lengths of coppiced hazel to be turned into charcoal. We all went off in separate directions to get on with the work and soon there was a flurry of activity spread out among the trees. It didn’t take long to debark the logs and get posts firmly set in the ground and within a few hours it was beginning to take shape – impressive! The team in charge of building the 3-ft high steps which will lead up the the ‘throne room’ had perhaps the most challenging job of all, with angles to measure and precisely cut, as well steps to fit onto the framework of a reclaimed staircase and many, many nails to pull out of salvaged wood – there wasn’t a single complaint to be heard though, it was heads down and on with the job!

By lunchtime we were all completely famished, so to gather around the campfire to share a big pot of homemade vegetable soup, tea and biscuits was extremely welcome and the break gave us all a chance to chat and get to know each other a little better.

After lunch, it was back to work for a few more hours while the good weather continued to shine down on us. There is still work to be done to complete the composting toilet but I think you’ll agree with the main framework up and the steps fitted it’s looking pretty good so far. Who knew building a loo could provide a day’s amusement – big thanks to the more skilled and experienced team members for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us novices, we learned a lot and so enjoyed being part of the team! And, safe to say, after all the physical graft and fresh air we all slept soundly that night. The power of a good honest day’s work!

If you would like to get involved with the Grassroots NI work you would be more than welcome to come along. There’s always a great list of events throughout the year and as they say ‘the more the merrier.’ Visit the Grassroots NI wesbite to find out more – it’s a lovely community making a real difference for the local environment.

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