Premium soft drinks producer, Belvoir Fruit Farms is looking for people from Lincolnshire to help with the annual elderflower harvest.
All are welcome and can potentially earn £50 cash in just four hours, based on £2.50 per kilo. Pickings need to be weighed in, same day, at the official dropping station at Belvoir Fruit Farms.
The elderflower harvest is a crucial time for the family run business as the frothy blossom is the key ingredient for its award-winning Elderflower Cordial and lightly sparkling Elderflower Pressé, sales of which continue to grow both domestically and abroad.
To maintain supply, every year around 60 tonnes (or 3.6 million flowerheads) need to be picked so it’s a case of all hands to the pump. The harvest period is totally weather dependent and with the extremes of hot and cold and then hot again experienced this Spring, the elders are proving harder than usual to predict.
At one point, Belvoir’s farm manager, Keith Challen was alluding to a mid-June start date but with the latest burst of warm weather the elderflowers are back on track to really erupt around the Spring Bank Holiday (28 May). Either way there is only a six-week window to gather in as much blossom as possible.
Belvoir’s MD, Pev Manners explains how awkward the elderflowers can be:
The Elder is the teenager of the botanical world. It’s unpredictable, temperamental, looks rather messy and doesn’t do what it’s told, but like all parents, annoying as it may be, we still love it!
We have 90 acres of organic elderflower and over the years have learned that it doesn’t like to be told where to grow or what to do.
Plant it in rows and it will rebel and not flourish as we would like it to. Like any recalcitrant teenager it wants to do its own thing; even when nourished with the finest manure and mulch, it prefers to plant itself in poorer soil and a location of its own choice.
Despite years of nurturing elders, we are still finding out new things which explain its adolescent-like behaviour and are currently seeking counselling from an expert at Kew Gardens to help us better understand it!
Belvoir has been making and selling its Elderflower Cordial for over 30 years and still makes it to the same family recipe. They own the only known elderflower orchards in the UK but still need to supplement the blossoms gathered there with those growing wild in the hedgerow in the counties in and around the Vale of Belvoir.
While to Belvoir the harvest remains a serious and crucial part of the Farm’s year, over time it has become a regular event for many locals who join the harvest as much to be out in the sunshine and close to nature, as to earn some money (pickers can earn as much as £50 in four hours).
The best part is that there is no special equipment required – simply a bin bag and maybe a walking stick to pull down the higher branches. Belvoir requests that only the frothy blossom and none of the stalk is harvested, and that the elderflowers are brought along to the weighing stations as soon as possible on the same day they are picked to ensure the blossoms are at their freshest best.
The full list of weighing stations is as follows:
- Swarkestone Nursery, Lowes Lane, Swarkestone, Derbyshire, DE73 7GQ (from 6 June)
- Belvoir Fruit Farms, Barkestone Lane, Bottesford, Notts, NG13 0DH (from 29 May)
- Sacrewell Farm & Country Centre, Thornhaugh, off A1/A47 junction at Wansford, PE8 6HJ (from 1 June)
- Thaymar Ice Cream, Haughton Park Farm, Nr Bothamsall, Retford, DN22 8DB (from 6 June)
Check the Belvoir website on www.belvoirfruitfarms.co.uk/elderflowers for the most up-to-date information on opening times and the best-known places for picking, or call Belvoir Fruit Farms on 01476 870286.
Helping with the elderflower harvest is a wonderful opportunity to take part in a delightful countryside tradition. We’ve been encouraging people to help with the harvest for over 30 years and welcome back many of the same people year after year.
We love to see them, but it’s always great to find new people getting involved. It’s such a massive job, we all get stuck in at Belvoir, but it’s the public who make the real difference and without them we would be in trouble – so thank you and do please come and share this important time of year with us.