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NeighborWood

Read all about it! Hogback NeighborWood Heating Cooperative:Overview,Charette Findings, Action Plan, and Follow-up(released May, 2013)

Background reading related to the HNHC

HNHC Forum

Hogback Community College Seminar: Producing and Using Firewood Sustainably in the Hogback EcoRegion


Back in 2010, Vermont Family Forests developed and tested a process for procuring and distributing VFF-verified firewood, which we called NeighborWood. Our goal, in our original pilot project, was to produce firewood and other forms of forest biomass in ways that are restorative, sustainable, energy-efficient, local, and fair (R-SELF).

In our initial test run in the fall of 2010, Bill Torrey of West Bolton harvested 106 cords of firewood on 25 acres of a 177-acre family forest in Lincoln, Vermont.This pilot project went a long way towards manifesting R-SELF firewood, adhering to VFF’s Forest Health Conservation Checklist of forest management practices, increasing stumpage to the landowner; increasing pay for the logging operator; using a log forwarding trailer to protect forest soil and keep wood clean, and utilizing customer-direct shipping and a mechanism for obtaining customer feedback.


However, the NeighborWood pilot project also highlighted significant economic issues. The project’s final report concluded that, “If fuelwood harvesting, processing, and use are to be ecologically sustainable, energy efficient, local, fair to all of the players, and not highly subsidized by timber, then the ‘community-supported’ aspect of NeighborWood will need to be much more highly developed and the price paid for fuelwood will likely need to increase very significantly.”

With these lessons in hand, Vermont Family Forests developed a model for community-based firewood production and put feelers out into the local community to  see if there was interest in coming together to brainstorm what such a collaborative firewood venture might look like. In November 2012, forty residents took part in the NeighborWood Heating Charette. They generated extensive, creative ideas, which VFF compiled and used to create an action plan for manifesting the Hogback NeighborWood Heating Cooperative.

The action plan is ambitious, so to take maneagable first steps toward creating a venture from this exciting vision, Vermont Family Forests is carrying out a pilot project that will field-test the notion of an economically viable cooperative process that includes cutting trees without compromising forest health, processing those logs into firewood, delivering them to a homeowner via an efficient system that minimizes handling and involves well-designed storage, and conducting an audit of the home and combustion system. This pilot gets underway in May, 2013.

In September, 2013, Vermont Family Forests will host a 16-hour seminar, “Producing and Using Firewood Sustainably in the Hogback EcoRegion” to continue community-based conversations and idea-sharing related to the Hogback NeighborWood Heating Cooperative. In the seminar, participants will explore restorative, sustainable, efficient, local, and fair ways to produce and use firewood as a heating source. The seminar will meet six times in several near-Bristol locations over the course of September and October. It will start in the forest, work through the log forwarding, produce the firewood, evaluate home energy efficiency, and examine ways to dry and burn wood well.