DRST finally arrives in the 21st Century!

So finally the moment has arrived… The Devon Rural Skills Trust has moved to an online booking and payment system!

Mick Godfrey, who has served faithfully as bookings secretary for the last 10 years, has now hung up his pen and stowed his book, and Jeremy Weiss has taken his place with the daunting task of managing the new online bookings. We owe Mick a massive thankyou.

Richard Hooker (winner of the DRST Hedgesteeping Competition 2015) has done an amazing job of redesigning the website to accept the online payments and we are greatly indebted to him for this.

From now on you can book and pay for your courses at the click of a button. You can use your debit or credit card, or PayPal account if you prefer. The system works well from computer, tablet or phone. To get started just go to the DRST webite at: https://www.drst.org.uk/

Turf Hedging at Culvertor Farm

After a wet week, the sun shone all day long for us which was just as well as turf hedging in the wet is no fun at all.

A small but loud and hard working group set to with diggers and mattocks to cut the bank back and by lunch time a great deal of work had already been acheived in building the newly faced turf bank up.

By the end of the day, thanks to a willing workforce and perfect turf we had completed a significant stretch of bank some 35 yards in length.

Next course is Stone Facing with Bruce Baker at Shaugh Prior on the 8th of April.


Hedgesteeping at East Fingle Farm

By Jeremy Weiss

The weather was warm and spring was in the air when we arrived at East Fingle, near Drewsteignton. Nick briefed the course attendees while Don and I were given a tour of the hedges on the farm by our young hosts. We selected two decent lengths for the DRST Hedgesteeping Competition to be held on 21st of October.

The day went well and a good job was made of the hedge. It was satisfying to see the progress made by the beginners who all seemed to pick up the basics remarkably quickly and with enthusiasm.

Next course is Turf Hedging in two weeks time on the 25th of March. There are still a few places available. For the uninitiated, turf hedging is a means to repair hedgebanks using turf cut from the field. It’s a very handy skill where stone is in short supply and is much quicker than stone facing.

Chestnut Blight

Here is an extract from a letter received from the Forestry Commission:

I am writing to you with information about an outbreak of sweet chestnut blight in the South West and to notify you of four 5km zones that are subject to movement restrictions.

Sweet chestnut blight is caused by a fungus called Cryphonectria parasitica, which gets into the trees through wounds or graft sites. Although oak trees suffer very little damage if they are infected by the fungus, they can spread it, so restrictions on movements of oak material are also required as a precaution.

Sweet chestnut blight was found in Devon in December 2016, initially south of Exeter. We wrote to our Devon contacts in January to inform them and again last week to let them know about two restricted zones; you may have seen articles in the forestry or local media about this. As a result of related survey and tracing work, we have now identified another zone in Devon and one in Dorset where restrictions are required. We are now writing to all our South West contacts to let you know what we are doing to manage the outbreak and to inform you about the movement restrictions.

For further information go to: https://www.forestry.gov.uk/chestnutblight

Hedgesteeping near Marldon

By Jeremy Weiss

A blustery day with some rain to boot but a nice easy hedge to greet us. Alan Cooper gave the safety talk and briefing while Don and I trekked through the fields to find a suitable bank to work on for the turf hedging course in 4 weeks time.

By the time we returned the novices were being shown the basics by Alan while everyone else busied themselves with the task ahead. I had to leave at lunch time but managed to get a few pictures of the progress being made.

The next course is hedge laying near Drewsteignton with Nick Dawe on the 11th of March. See you there!