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BNPS.co.uk (01202 558833)<br />
Pic: PhilYeomans/BNPS<br />
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Willow staves are put out to dry...<br />
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One ancient tradition has benefitted from the watery travails of the Somerset levels this year - The annual willow harvest has just begun, with the fast growing tree's putting on 9 feet of growth this year in the damp soil.<br />
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Untill the second war over 3000 acres of the precarious landscape were producing 'Black Maul', the local name for Salix triundra, as they had for thousands of years. <br />
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Farmer Richard Roberts has one of the last surviving willow beds on his farm at the famous battlefield of Sedgemoor in the heart of the levels.<br />
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But despite the drastic reduction in demand as plastic bags and containers took over, his business is now booming as traditional woven products like panniers, baskets and even coffins come back into fashion.<br />
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'Willow weaving must have been one of the first skills learned by prehistoric man' say's Richard 'And its fantastic that it still has a use in the twenty first century'.