Can a modern day coppice business be car free?

I’ve been looking over my diesel receipts and have once again managed to shock myself with how much I use me vehicle (VW van), the amount it is costing me in fuel and consequently the environmental impact of it all.  It’s a necessary evil though right?  Well that’s the question I posed to myself today and I would like to pose to a wider audience.

The trust van on a particularly wintery day

The trusty van on a particularly wintery day

Is it possible to run a modern day coppice business without a vehicle?

The business sense of not having a vehicle is compelling.  Last year I spent approximately £1,600 on running my vehicle.  That is simply running and does not involve the initial outlay cost of buying it, or some repair work.  £1,600 is not an insignificant amount of money for a young business, especially one in the tight margins of woodland work.

On the other hand, how much of my turnover could I have achieved without it.  How would I have got to the woodlands in the first place? How would I have got my products out and to market? How would I tow the charcoal retort? These are all pretty hard questions to answer.

What about though, if I centered all my operations and tools at one wood and I cycled there? What if I managed to convince my retailers that it was worth picking up the charcoal from the woods instead of me going to them? Or perhaps there is some way of forming a cooperative whereby one van is operated by several businesses allowing the costs and environmental impact to be shared?

It would be lovely to be ‘carless’, it would make life simpler.  One less hassle, one less thing to maintain and fund.  It would also mean that I would have to do a hell of a lot of cycling and be incredibly organised.  Is it just a pipe dream, or could it, just maybe, be done? There must be someone doing it already.

What do you think?

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