- Title: 'Furniture farmers' fight deforestation one chair at a time
- Date: 24th September 2019
- Summary: DERBYSHIRE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - AUGUST 21, 2015) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FULL GROWN CHAIR ON DISPLAY AT LONDON DESIGN FAIR (SOUNDBITE) (English) LONDON SOFTWARE ENGINEER AND FULL GROWN FURNITURE CUSTOMER, ALEX MANNING, SAYING: "So I've bought six of these items because I think this is the way that furniture should be going in the future. I think it's an amazing way to give back to the environment, and I think it's an amazing way to create furniture and build something that's functional but is also art as well. It's beautiful, every piece is individual and it's amazing." VARIOUS OF LONDON DESIGN FAIR VISITORS LOOKING AT CHAIR LONDON DESIGN FAIR VISITOR EXAMINING CHAIR DERBYSHIRE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - AUGUST 21, 2015) (REUTERS) GAVIN MUNRO WALKING DOWN ROW OF TREES AND PREPARING TO TRIM THEM FIELD OF TREES (SOUNDBITE) (English) FULL GROWN CO-FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, GAVIN MUNRO, SAYING: "And this is now spread along here, these all form the chair-back." TREE GROWING ROUND BOX TO FORM CHAIR
- Embargoed: 8th October 2019 13:15
- Keywords: Alice Munro Gavin Munro furniture farm deforestation lamps tree furniture Full Grown Derbyshire chairs Furniture farmers
- Location: DERBYSHIRE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / UNKNOWN
- City: DERBYSHIRE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / UNKNOWN
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Environment
- Reuters ID: LVA004AY5MUE1
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: It is on a two-acre field in England's Midlands that Gavin and Alice Munro are taking another small step in their sustainability revolution. They are harvesting a whole chair growing out of the ground.
The couple have a "furniture farm" in Derbyshire where they are growing 250 chairs, 100 lamps and 50 tables. It is their answer to what they see as the inefficient and carbon-heavy process of cutting down mature trees to create furniture.
Part of the inspiration for the idea came when Gavin was a young boy. He spotted an overgrown bonsai tree which looked like a chair.
He was also born with a curved spine and during his childhood spent several years wearing a metal frame to reset his back.
He began experimenting in 2006 when he tried to grow chairs on two small plots of land in the UK's Peak District.
But in 2012, a year after they married, Gavin and Alice set up the company Full Grown and committed to the idea full-time.
Progress has been steady. One of their first attempts at a crop ended in disaster when it was trampled by cows and eaten by rabbits.
They have also had to discover the most effective way to shape a tree without stunting its growth.
They have learned to guide shoots already heading in the right direction, rather than forcing shoots the wrong way against their will.
Grafting branches means removing their bark and making them join together.
Full Grown has around 10,000 workable branches in production and 100,000 they need to trim.
And there's money to be made. Chairs sell for Â£10,000 ($12,480), lamps for Â£900-Â£2,300 ($1,120-$2,870) and tables for Â£2,500-Â£12,500 ($3,120-$15,600).
But home-grown furniture does not arrive quickly. An average chair will take six to nine years to grow - and another year to dry out.
The longest commission it has is for 2030. It is a chair for a customer's retirement.
Plight of rainforests have stormed up the global agenda in recent weeks, as forest fires rage in the Amazon and the Congo Basin and a U.N. climate science report backed forest protection as a key pillar of action to curb global warming this month.
Tropical forests accounted for about 90% of global deforestation from 2001-2015 and their annual rate of loss rose by 44% in the 2014-2018 period, the report said.
The world lost more than 26 million hectares of trees - an area the size of Britain - each year from 2014-2018, the report added.
Ancient Romans, Chinese and Japanese are known to have shaped trees to customise their forms.
Gavin and Alice hope to be harvesting annually by 2022.
Long-term, they want to buy a farm they can use as an experimental hub. They also want to spread their knowledge through consultancy.
Medium-term however, Alice sees a fully-grown dining set as a good goal. How long will that take?
"At least a decade," said Gavin.
(Production: George Sargent)
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