Well, sort of. Here’s an interview with Patrick Morello of said organisation. You can find details of the open day here.
a) What does TreeStation do?
We provide arboricultural and woodland management services and with the wood that this produces we make firewood, sawn timber, and other products – the aim is to make the best possible use of it. We also take material from councils and other treework contractors; our aim is to save carbon by making the best use of this valuable local resource – replacing firewood imported from Eastern Europe and sawn timber from all over the world. Imported wood fuel is worse than useless; but local wood is part of the answer, and there is a surprising amount of it in Greater Manchester that is simply wasted.
b) What have been the big successes in the last year?
Our biomass woodchip received Woodsure Plus (http://www.woodsure.co.uk/levels_2.htm) accreditation, guaranteeing quality and sustainability. Our treework team passed their Arboricultural Association assessment with flying colours, meaning that we are now AA Approved Contractors. This is the gold standard in the arb industry, and ensures the quality and safety of our work; it should be a big help in winning tenders in the future. Our sales of firewood, arboricultural services, and sawn timber are well up; our wood is being sold in John Lewis stores in the form of chopping boards made by our customer Start Creative.
c) What hasn’t gone according to plan/why/how is it being dealt with
Costs were higher than anticipated, but we have renegotiated our lease and appealed our rates and have succeeded in reducing these. It is proved much more costly and complicated than anticipated to get the biomass woodchip side of our business going properly, for a variety of reasons. Biomass woodchip sales were a big part of our business plan, so this is the main reason our trading deficit was more than budgeted for. We are launching a new community share issue to fund the purchase of new equipment to overcome some of these difficulties and improve our ability to produce and deliver wood fuels. It will also fund a kiln, powered by a biomass boiler, for drying sawn timber and, when necessary, firewood.
d) Why are you having the open day?
The open days are to promote what we are doing, and also to promote what our customers and partners are doing. So other wood related businesses that we work with are part of the open day too – joiners, green woodworkers, stove and boiler people, mushroom growers. We are a social enterprise, so we are keen to involve people in what we are doing, as members and supporters. We are also using the open days to promote the new community share issue. Finally, part of what we do is promote low carbon technology and ways of living, by hosting school visits for example, and the open days are also part of that
e) How can people get involved?
Anyone can join the treestation, although for the duration of the share issue the minimum subscription is £200. Members can attend the AGM and be elected as directors, and we are also on the lookout for more volunteer directors, especially if they have relevant skills and experience. More generally, it would be great to have more people to help out at the open days, and on other publicity events. Anyone interested should email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anything else you’d like to say.
We are really excited to be developing the TreeStation to its full potential. In years to come it will be a major asset to the local community of environmentalists and co-operators, and is already acting as a hub for a variety of wood related eco-businesses. Now is the time to build the future!