Tymhorau Dyfi Member – Steenie Halliday

Charcoal burner and woodsman in the Dyfi Valley

Steenie Halliday of Dyfi Carbon, one of our Tymhorau Dyfi members, co-manages a woodland near Pennal, providing a variety of services to the local community. 

The woodland is managed using the continuous cover forestry method – an approach to forest management that aims to create diverse woodland with the use of thoughtful and sustainable tree felling.

Seasonal charcoal available in the Tymhorau Dyfi shop

Steenie provides the shop with seasonal charcoal – BBQ charcoal in the summer, and a biochar and vermiculture compost mix in the growing season. 

So called waste wood is produced through the woodland management plan and so this is put to good use via the charcoal element of Steenie’s work. No trees are cut down specifically to make the charcoal, making this product a sustainable choice. 

First the wood is stacked and covered to season – or dry out – for at least a year, before being chopped and loaded into the kiln. Steenie builds a fire in the kiln until the temperature reaches between 300C and 350C, when he reduces the air supply. 

Working through the night, he continuously checks the moisture vents, adjusting the burn to avoid hot spots – a process which takes between 12 and 15 hours, before closing down the kiln completely to kill the burn. The kiln must be left sealed for at least two days to avoid the fire restarting, and then the charcoal is removed 

Traditionally made charcoal for BBQs and horticulture

The resulting charcoal is processed, either into large chunks suitable for BBQs, or finer pieces to be mixed with worm casts to create an effective soil improvement product for growers. Charcoal made using these traditional methods is perfect for use with food as it contains no chemicals, unlike many products available in shops. 

Biochar – a charcoal and vermiculture mix made by Steenie’s woodland co-owner, Rachel Hasler – holds nutrients in the soil for longer, reducing the need for feeds and mulches, encourages the growth of friendly bacteria and aerates heavy soil, resulting in improved growing conditions for vegetables, flowers and houseplants. 

Drop by the Tymhorau Dyfi shop, 17 Heol Maengwyn, Machynlleth, to browse the charcoal products we have in stock. To find out more about Steenie’s work and products, just…