Spent a very stimulating day talking about orchards on Thursday (27th) – at a workshop organised by Glasu at a country house (Penpont) near Brecon. Glasu, for those who don’t know them, are an organisation piloting ‘innovative approaches to rural development to help develop more sustainable communities in rural Wales’.
Thursday’s do was part of their New Harvest Project – which helps to adds value to local food produced in Powys – through innovative marketing, crops etc.
Our theme for the day was Adding Value to Powys Orchards, with invited speakers and stall-holders showing what could be done – in theory and in practice, to get more from orchards than just apples…
No prizes for guessing why I was there – my brief was to discuss harvesting and marketing mistletoe from orchards. Easy enough to talk about in principle – but always difficult to come up with firm figures – just how much money can you make from an orchard crop at Christmas? After all these years I still can’t give a definite answer to that one! (too many variables, not enough firm data)
Despite this everyone seemed very keen – echoing similar discussions I’ve had with orchard owners in Herefordshire and elsewhere. Reg and Alec from TEME came along too, and we presented our new Grow Your Own Kit Gift Card for the first time. More on that when the new TEME website goes live next week – but in essence it’s a new angle to our Grow-Kits, making them more suitable as Christmas presents. With these the lucky recipient will actually get something at Christmas (the card) and not have to wait until February (when the kits are sent out) to get tangible proof they’ve been given something…
Other elements of the day included presentations on apple juicing business, cropsharing your orchard crop, marketing local fruit to school tuck shops etc, canning orchard fruit at home, cider and perry making in Wales, local fruit for food co-ops and the results of a survey of Powys Orchards (this last was presented by the ‘Orchard Doctors’). All extremely good stuff, and very applely presented.
The venue was impressive too – Penpont, described ‘one of the finest houses situated within the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park’, certainly lives up to expectations. Owned by the same family since it was first built (1666) it is still at the centre of a 2000 acre estate, and has, in recent years, become a centre for organic produce, with the house and immediate grounds given over to organic fruit and veg. There’s loads to see – and it’s right on the banks of the Usk, with it’s own church, granary, stables, twin walled gardens, etc etc. Plus a Green Man Maze. If you want to spend time there one wing of the house is available to rent (it sleeps a mere 17…)