By Sara Tommerup
When I want to savour the morning light, I climb to our wooden loo. It sits in a larch cathedral overlooking the Tywi valley with the Cambrian Mountains in the horizon. The loo is simple and functional by design, built from the very trees around it.
The trees that we use to build toilets with are felled by us and extracted with our little tractor. Our local sawyer mills it up on his mobile saw, while we stack it to keep it dry and straight. Sometimes it comes from woodlands nearby.
Our woodland is a planted ancient woodland site. Natural regeneration happens fast here in our woods thanks to the dormant seedbank, wonderfully intact in the topsoil. When the tall conifers are felled and the light comes in, the seed awaken to complete the cycle. Slowly but surely the conifers are replaced by new diverse species. In the future this may become a coppice, to inspire new arts and crafts for generations to come.
For five summers I have run carpentry courses in our simple open workshop nestled in this same wood and more than 300 people have come to learn. My take on it is simple – I advocate functional and healthy building, with close-to-source materials to inspire to build well and appropriately.
And our participants are all women. Why? Because of women’s underrepresentation in woodwork. Besides, who best to build our houses with design sensitive to our mothering earth and our children?
We build toilets, small shelters and cabins which find their homes all over Wales and beyond. One loo went to Elemental adventures, based in Pembrokeshire. They run a social enterprise offering nature connection for people of all ages and abilities to connect with each other and the natural world through, for example, forest school, storytelling and woodland management.
“Thanks to Coed Talylan for the compost toilet, made on their awesome Carpentry For Women Natural Builders course!” they tweeted. Well, actually thanks to the multiple individuals who came to learn by building it!
The little loos we build are available flat-packed here. We also come to you. Get in touch if you are interested in running a course at your place by having a team of women build something small that you or your organisation needs and at the same time support our training programme. ֎