4 February 2011

Green Fuel from the Fellside

Green Fuel from the Fellside

The Cumberland and Westmorland Herald 4 February 2011

An East Fell side logs business is promoting “green fuel” through the environmental and sustainability aspects of its work.

Skogs Logs Ltd. (Skogs being Scandinavian for forest or wood) is run by Grant Rowley and Allan Armstrong at Maughanby Farm, Glassonby.

Grant, aged 35, lives at Maughanby Farm with his wife, Lucy, and their 16-month-old son, Fergus. Their barn conversion incorporates oak beams,window lintels and many features using wood from the land, including an oak beam from a tree his father planted aged 18.

Grant, the son of Tim and Bridget Rowley, was educated at Sedbergh School. He has been planting woods and selling logs part-time since he was just 16 and has an HND in forestry from Newton Rigg College.

During his course Grant was able to unite his passions for both travelling and forestry on work placements in Finland and New Zealand for a year. He was brought up with an interest in forestry as his father was one of the first farmers in the area to sign up to the Woodland Premium Scheme in 1988.

About 60 of the 320 acres at Maughanby Farm are planted up with a mix of oak, sycamore and silver birch along with a range of Christmas trees which Grant’s father and his uncle, Robin Rowley, began selling 35 years ago. For the past two years the Christmas tree outside Penrith Town Hall has come free-of-charge from Maughanby Farm, with its installation paid for by A. W. Jenkinson.

Skogs Logs was set up by Grant in 2008 to supply firewood around the area and it targeted a niche market by using small scale machinery to extract timber. This has been supported by a grant from the Rural Development Programme for England to help buy a tracked skidder and firewood processing equipment to access more difficult woodland.

Grant’s business partner, Allan Armstrong, began working at Skogs Logs in October and a further three local men are provided with work on a self-employed basis.

Originally from Penrith, 46-year-old Allan lives at Crackenthorpe with his wife, Clare Chappelhow. He is the son of Frank and Mary Armstrong, of Skirsgill Close, Penrith, and worked in the transport industry for 20 years.

He was transport manager with haulage contractor Cragg and Curtiss at Silver Band near Appleby for 12 years and prior to joining Skogs Logs was a gas and oil heating engineer.

The business partners are promoting the use of soft wood which, they say, is ideal for controlled environments, like log burners, and is a cheaper alternative.

They are also keen to keep a local element to their business, cutting down on transport costs and making it more environmentally friendly. At present they deliver to customers within a 25-mile radius.

Grant explained: “There’s no point having ‘green’ logs and then transporting them all over. We just want to do it locally; produce the wood locally, sell it locally. You can go on-line now and buy wood from anywhere in the country but that detracts from why we are doing it.

“Also, if the wood is managed there would be an indefinite supply and it helps the environment while it’s growing. It’s about sustainability. I’m not in this for a quick get rich fix, it’s a long term vision I have of how to improve not only my woods but the woods round about.

“There’s something very satisfying about knowing that if everything goes wrong you can still keep warm with the logs.”

This year Grant and Allan are aiming to produce 2,000 cubic metres of timber logs. At the moment they are doing about 450cu m and hope to produce 3000cu m by 2012, as well as develop outdoor activities at the site.

Along with the log business, paintballing sessions are run at Maughanby Farm. The sessions have been running for around eight months, set up by Grant and his friend, Ben Weston.


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