Balnacra Arts & Pottery by Vicky Stonebridge

Mini Country day and Grand Opening of the Treehouse

This is a copy of the report I wrote for the Kirkton woodlands and Heritage Group Blog ;

Today was the First event in the Lochcarron Treehouse and a mini country day at the Smithy. The idea is to drum up community interest in the Kirkton Woodlands and Heritage Group’s projects, to raise awareness, educate about woodlands management, engage and train people in community woodlands management. Basically if we are to run a forest as a community we need to get together as a community, to socialise, fundraise and swap skills. The Smithy site has the building of the two new crafts workshops on it at the moment. Craft-makers or community / woodlands / eco businesses who’s work fits in the aims and objectives of the Woodlands group will be invited to apply for tenancy’s soon- details to follow.
This building work presented a challenge however for us running a country day! the ground was too messy and muddy to put a marquee up to house our activities. So we cleared out the former Smithy Heritage Centre and borrowed the existing small crafts workshop which is currently empty. With the miserable grey rainy day we didn’t expect too many people… but we were in for a surprise !
Hundreds of people came, and stayed all day, despite the rain and the mud! Everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves, joining in with all the activities.

In the Smithy Building we had Terry manning a Sales table to raise funds, Paul doing his very popular Wildlife quiz, Sheila Bates doing lovely colourful feltmaking, Les Bates with a mass of information and knowledge of community woodlands managment, a display of local school children’s art ideas of what they’d like to see in the forest, and a band of Local musicians. It really bought the place to life having music playing again in there and the stove lit. The music wafted down through the woodland towards the treehouse. Many thanks to the Lochcarron players for coming along & squeezing into our hectic space!
There is a small crafts workshop next to the Smithy, this is currently empty pending the start up of ‘MacPhersons Tartans’, the tenant kindly let us use the space for the day. In there we had Monique Bervoets Willow Weaving, she assisted people in weaving lovely willow fishes, 40 in total! There was also a chance for youngsters to decorate their own easter eggs using local hard boiled duck eggs, 3 dozen off them !
We also had a raffle with lots and lots of generous prizes donated. The children’s raffle took the form of decorating a tree with leaves to win prizes.
There were also activities outside  around the grounds of theSmithy and small woodland despite the rain. We had Jonah doing a guide to birdwatching, the birds were hiding with so many people around, but the moment there was a lull they’d swoop in for the nuts, seeds and meal worms.  We hope to continue this, as before the treehouse was built there was once a bird hide at the same location, this was very popular with visitors and locals, but was swept away when the river flooded one year.
Also around the smithy we had Gill from Applecross doing  guided walks pointing out plants you can eat and use for various other things. Even at this time of year when there is not very much growth, when you know what to look for there are plenty of useful plants everywhere.
Children also enjoyed hunting out chocolate eggs that the Easter bunny seemed to have left everywhere.

In the treehouse, with a toasty stove on, people had a chance to try their hand at Spinning with Margaret Beaton who got people to make simple bookmarks out of their own first spun yarn. We also has a demonstration and display from the ‘lochcarron Spinners’.

The event completely exceeded our expectations. It was very inspiring to see so much community support for the Kirkton Woodland and Heritage Group’s  aims. A lot of young people came along and joined in, asking questions and showing a lot of interest in what is being done- expressing that ‘this area needs more things happening for young people’. If we can keep up the momentum of this cross generational participation, the levels of enthusiasm, the ideas, input and voluntary work currently being done, we may well be able to achieve what seemed impossible a few years ago. We are very lucky to have such a strong sense of community here, but these things don’t happen overnight or by themselves, a lot of people have been working very hard to make a positive difference. This Country day showed that that work can and does pay off.
Many thanks to everyone who was involved or attended. This is just the start !

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This entry was posted on April 7, 2012 by in Blog, Events and tagged , , , , , .

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