finding a way to make a fence from the land


this is a 6 month project, which may seem a little extreme for a smallish fence, but it was all harvested by hand through connections with landowners @ near mattawa, Ontario, and build with hand tools. This 150′ fence was designed from British hazel ‘hurdles’ which were 6′ high and were staked into the earth as garden or sheep fencing for at least two thousand years. This patio for Cafe Belong is instead sunk into rough cedar logs with sugar maple upright to make it modular and portable.

to begin, in February to harvest from 400 acres north of Algonquin park was ambitious, but to find the necessary connection to a piece of land, o be able to visit and understand it, who lives there what has grown where and why is half of what is important, and without the pointers to understanding, there is little inspiration to continue creating things that i harvest.

this willow was cut off of a five acre site which had been entirely graded 5 years ago, and even though we had access to gas powered machinery such as the infamous ‘brush hog’ it did not seems to help, the process of selection being so slow and refined, taking only those saplings of a certain age or width meant that we could not just cut the entire thing down, but picked the trees one at a time. there is no machine more efficient than the head, heart and hands for this.



4 months later in June i am still installing fences, benches and arbors out of the leftovers. above is Access Alliance Children’s Garden, installed in May of 2012.

i even went so far as to construct a fence in two dimensions as a bench for Merchants of Green Coffee, though as the season progressed the material, pussy willow, white ash,  and sugar maple, would progressively dry out and become harder to work with.

please see the story as it evolves in its natural habitat: