I grew up next door to the Lower Woods Nature Reserve. It is one of England’s largest oak-ash woods comprised of 700 acres of woodlands and coppices separated by grassy ‘rides’. My ancestors have a recorded history of living in that area since the 12th Century.
My friend Will Evans visits the Nature Reserve regularly and helps with the coppicing. Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management. Young tree stems are repeatedly cut down near to ground level leaving what is known as a stool remaining. Over time, new growth emerges and after a number of years, the coppiced trees are again harvested and the cycle begins again.
In Lower Woods the coppicing happens in sections that are rotated to allow for the regrowth of the coppiced areas. Coppicing provides a rich variety of habitats allowing for great biodiversity.
Psalm 1:1-3 (MEV)
“Blessed is the man, who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; its leaf will not wither, and whatever he does will prosper.”
Last year I initiated a yearly ritual in my household – namely planting vegetables. I have two small children and I do not want them to grow up thinking that you have to buy food in a shop. Food comes from the ground just as we all have.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 we read “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.” (NLT)
I am a Protestant, yet I do have a great respect for the principles of continental Christian democracy and especially Catholic social teaching. I believe a society built upon the threefold foundation of human dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity would be a great one. I do not own ‘three acres and a cow’ but using the land I do own, I am trying to show my children that food can be grown.
Last year I grew beetroot, carrot, lettuce, radish, spring onion and tomatoes. This year I am planning to do the same. I might add a few broad beans and sunflowers for good measure.
My kids love helping me plant the seeds, watering the garden and then eventually when the time comes pulling up the veg at harvest time. There is no better feeling than telling your children that they helped to produce the food on their dinner plate.
The seeds are now in the ground and the waiting begins. In the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:7 “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” (NLT)