What's going on News Locally made charcoal now available BBQ with a clear conscience Barbecue season is (hopefully?) just around the corner, and we're big advocates of buying locally sourced products from sustainable sources so Wassledine's charcoal ticks all of the boxes. Produced in oil drums on their woodland at Bottoms' Corner, they use wood coppiced from both their own site, and other local woodlands to produce this high quality charcoal (with no added chemicals!) It's now available for £8 a bag from the Gift Shop at the Forest Centre. Don't take our word for it - here's a little bit more info from Guy from Wassledine himself: We started producing small quantities of lumpwood charcoal in 2016, from old hazel, cut in both Gravenhurst and Pulloxhill, Beds. The wood we use is too small for firewood but too big and not straight enough for most other uses. We thought charcoal would be a sensible way to make use of it and were so impressed with the quality of the charcoal we produced, we decided to go into production. Good stuff? We reckon so. It lights easily and burns for a good while, nice and evenly, without smoke (until of course your food starts to drip oil). We add nothing to it so there’s no danger of tainting your lovely food with noxious stuff. Charcoal and the environment – 3 reasons to buy local Apart from the culinary advantages offered by British charcoal, the other great thing about it is that by buying it you are supporting small businesses that actively manage woodland, most likely, like us, by coppicing. If these small coppicing businesses thrive, species that are well suited to coppiced woodlands, such as bluebells, wood anemones, nightingales, dormice, etc. get a chance to thrive also. If you buy locally produced charcoal, you are reducing the road miles and fuel required to get the stuff into your barbeque, compared particularly with charcoal from abroad. And finally… a lot of imported charcoal is still made using wood cut from pristine forest and mangrove swamps in tropical regions. This is contributing to the threats faced by some of the world’s most endangered species. How we make charcoal In January 2018 we ordered a Hookway retort from ex-artist and retort-charcoal obsessive, James Hookway. Compared to making charcoal in a ring kiln a retort is amazingly clean and efficient. It converts all the initial charge of wood into char using only small waste wood to fuel the process. When running properly it produces very little smoke, especially compared to a ring kiln. For more information about Wassledine and their other exciting ventures, visit their website or call 01462 711815. We also stock firewood and kindling in our Forest Centre shop - we're out of firewood for this season but we'll have more at the end of summer. If you're looking to bulk buy, call Darren on 01234 762603 or send him an email to pre-order.