Community Milling at Creek Farm

The Community that Mills Together, Stays Together

Sarah Kern | May 2, 2023
Community Milling with Urban Forestry Center at Creek Farm in Portsmouth

AJ Dupere, of the Urban Forestry Center, is seen with two amazing Forest Society volunteers, while milling some of the white pine trees that were removed from Little Harbor Road.

We love the smell of sawdust in the morning! We at the Forest Society are so fortunate to work closely with AJ Dupere of the Urban Forestry Center.  Every program we c-ohost with him, we learn something new and it’s a guaranteed good time. Our latest milling experience is no different.

Eversource removed 40 white pine trees from Little Harbor Road last year, and, as one might imagine, community members were a bit taken aback. 40 is a large number, we are in an urban setting where not much is known about forestry, and the area is a beloved spot for the community to walk themselves, their dogs, and enjoy the beautiful gem that is Little Harbor Road. 

The portable mill in action.
While we understood that the trees were either dead or diseased and needed to be removed, we also understood the attachment that people have to trees. We asked Eversource if they could leave a few trees at Creek Farm after they were cut and worked on a plan with the Urban Forestry Center to mill them into lumber to be used for benches, bird houses, bat houses, and more - a bit of lemonade from lemons, if you will. Eversource agreed and the logs have been awaiting milling for about a year.

We knew that this would provide an incredible learning opportunity for our community. Very few people know and understand the process of getting trees from the forest to the wood products we use every day. 

Years ago, Urban Forestry Center was able to purchase a portable sawmill that cuts felled trees and logs into custom-sized lumber and can be transported to various locations. This creates an amazing educational opportunity for the public to get an introduction to just how much work goes in to the wood products that we so often take for granted. From angles of the trees, to the different colors of the knots, reading the history of the tree, doing the math to create the right cuts while accounting for the loss of the cut, hard wood, soft wood, insect damage, safety, respect and more. And what a work out!

Two children pose with a bat box they made last summer out of the wood.
Last summer
Our phenomenal group of five volunteers were able to assist in milling from 8 am until 3 pm, milling all but one of the white pines that were given to us by Eversource. 

We were able to mill siding for the new public bathrooms at Creek Farm, slabs for future Leopold Benches, more lumber for planters, bird houses, bat houses, owl houses, and more and also get it stacked to dry and cure.  A great time was had by all, we laughed and learned and were humbled by the size and mass of these trees as well as the power of the mill. 

Thank you AJ and the Urban Forestry Center and to all who were able to join us. The next time you are at Creek Farm, just take a look at the siding on the bathrooms! The wood is gorgeous and locally sourced.