A fruit farm is appealing for pickers in the region to help bring in the elderflower harvest.
Belvoir Fruit Farms is launching its annual call for pickers – and this year the appeal is particularly urgent as the unseasonably cold weather has delayed the start of the season, reducing it from six to just four weeks, so the frothy white blossoms need picking even more quickly than usual.
In addition, the nation’s continuing thirst for elderflower cordials and pressés, as quintessentially English as vicarage tea parties and cricket at Lords, has given Belvoir Fruit Farms sparkling annual sales of over £9.6m in 2012 - up 16 per cent on 2011- with sales in 2013 already exceeding expectations.
To satisfy the growing demand for their traditional elderflower drinks, Belvoir requires in excess of 50 tonnes of elderflowers or over three million elderflower heads but with the shorter season giving the Belvoir team less time to gather in the frothy, cream abundance it could be a tall order without the help of local people.
Keith Challen, Farm Manager for Belvoir Fruit Farms explains: “Because of the cold, wet spring the elders are about a month behind their expected development. This means the six week harvest will start later than usual, probably in mid June and will only last for a short four week period giving us less time to bring in the blossoms. In addition, although we have planted two new elder orchards, which are developing nicely, we still need more flowers. It is therefore imperative that we get as much help as possible to pick wild growing elderflowers to supplement our own harvested from the Belvoir farm and to make the most of the short window of opportunity we have.”
Belvoir offers pickers £2 cash per kilo and an experienced picker can harvest up to 45 kilos of elderflowers a day.
All that’s required is a bin bag to put the flower heads in. Belvoir can only accept flowers at their freshest best and so the blossoms have to have been picked that day and should not have any stalks.
Bags should be delivered to Belvoir Farms, Belvoir, Grantham, lincolnshire, NG32 1PB