BiS: BusinessInSavannah.com - Business news for the creative coast.

Woodworkers preserve trees after Hurricane Matthew

  • Charley Ward, co-owner of Slowvannah Farms, straps down pieces of an elm tree. He will cut, dry and build furniture from the wood. (Photo by Steve Bisson/SMN)
  • Bart Haigh, left, of Haigh Wood Shop, and Charley Ward, co-owner of Slowvannah Farms, estimate that this elm tree on Maupas Avenue predates the Civil War. (Photo by Steve Bisson/SMN)

A group of Savannah woodworkers have united in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew to preserve wood from trees that fell as a result of the storm.

“These trees are an integral part of the historic significance of Savannah and many of us have a personal attachment,” said Charley Ward, a woodworker and co-owner of Slowvannah Farms. Ward galvanized the wood-saving venture, which aims to turn fallen trees into lumber that can then be used for custom furniture, picture frames, coasters and cutting boards, among other items.

“The custom wood items can be a great keepsake for homeowners or citizens to have as a memory of the tree, the hurricane, or their loved ones,” said Ward, who said that the goal is not to have the fallen trees get chipped into mulch or to clog landfills.

Slowvannah Farms, Haigh Wood Shop, and Southern Pine Co. are locally owned businesses participating with the preservation efforts.

“Haigh Wood Shop has been a huge help and they do custom furniture. Southern Pine Co. is similarly helping (to) coordinate picking up trees in parallel with Slowvannah Farms. We’re talking with them to provide sawmill services; they do custom flooring, furniture, and other re-purposed wood products,” Ward said.

Ward came up with his idea because he had to remove several trees from his own property after the storm and he wanted to find a proper use for the trees.

“After some time of not finding somebody with a sawmill that could help us, we decided we could do this ourselves. The goal has always been to help others with similar situations,” said Ward.

Most downed trees are picked up by hauling companies contracted by the county and city. Some trees, Ward said, are city-owned and the woodworkers don’t have the rights toward the trees. “City leaders could put an emphasis on tree preservation, and have the tree contractors leave logs in a suitable size, and bring them to a staging area where a sawyer can make the final decision on how to best utilize the tree for lumber,” Ward suggested. “With such a large scale of trees affected, we need help saving as many as we can. There are many trees out there that could be saved and re-purposed.”

Find out more about Slowvannah Farm’s sawmill services at slowvannah.com.

Comments