FARMING MATTERS: Apples harvest an additional income
After rejuvenating an ancient orchard, livestock and arable farmers Richard and Sue Belgrove developed an important sideline to their business.
Richard had an old cider press that belonged to his grandfather and the initial idea was to pasteurise their own apples to enjoy the resulting juice themselves.
But as they gave some of the bottles to friends, people started asking the Beglroves to press their apples.
Now, 17 years later, the business has grown to such an extent, the whole family gets involved in the business of pressing apples. There have been several presses along the way and they now use a belt press, with customers coming from as far away as Bristol, Kent and even France.
Visitors deliver their apples to the farm in Longwick and if they can provide 80 kilos they will get their own unique apple juice back. With smaller quantities, for example a carrier bag full of apples, the apples will be mixed with others to produce a blend.
Customers can request a personalised label on their bottles, and schools often get apple juice created to sell at their school fairs to raise funds.
Sue said: “It’s quite hard work while we are doing it, but we have worked hard at it and it’s part of the farm and does bring an income in.”
The season for the apple pressing is from July through to November, with the busiest months in September and October. This can sometimes coincide with the end of harvest and things like muck spreading, b ut that’s when the whole family gets on board to help out. The Beglroves still press their own apples and sell it bottled through farm shops, but the majority of their apple pressing business now is from people bringing their own fruit to be pressed.
Customers are charged £1.60 a bottle and the juice can keep for several years, but the best before recommendation is 18 months.
If you have apples you’d liked to have pasteurised, pressed and bottled check out the website for further details, www.pasturefarmjuice.co.uk