Drinks firm's plea for help to bring in elderflower harvest
Volunteers are urgently needed to help pick at least 50 tonnes of elderflower for popular drinks business Belvoir Fruit Farms.
But the clock is against the pickers as poor weather has already eaten into the annual six week harvest season.
The Bottesford-based business, which expects to sell more than 1.5 million bottles of its Elderflower Cordial this year, is appealing to volunteers in south Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire to help pick the blossoms, which flourish in ditches and hedgerows across the countryside.
Pickers do not need any specialist equipment, just a bin bag for the flower heads.
Belvoir offers pickers £2 cash per kilo and an experienced picker can harvest up to 45 kilos of elderflowers a day.
Pev Manners, managing director, said: “It has been quite a cold spring but with the warm weather of late we are, hopefully, getting back on track so I’m predicting the harvest will start around the bank holiday (May 31).
“It usually begins around May 26 so we have lost a few vital days.
“We really need as many people as possible to help gather in this year’s crop and I’m hoping that as the start of harvest looks like it will fall in half term, we might see families coming for a day out and to earn some extra money.”
Belvoir owns the only commercial plantations of elder bushes in the UK. It is from these 84 acres and those growing wild in the surrounding countryside that Mr Manners encourages pickers from the local area to collect the blossom.
This year, Belvoir is even more dependent than usual on the wild elderflowers after having just replanted 20 acres with elder bushes which are now too young to produce flowers.
The elderflowers have to be at their freshest so must have been picked that day and Belvoir would not encourage flowers from further than an hour’s drive away from the weighing stations to be presented for use.
Belvoir can only accept flowers that have been picked that day and should not have any stalks.
From May 31 and for the duration of the elderflower season, Belvoir Fruit Farms is open from 3pm until 6.30pm, six days a week for pickers to bring the blossom to the weighing point at the Belvoir site on Barkestone Lane, Bottesford.
Elderflower collections will also be accepted at Sacrewell Farm Centre just off the A47 near Peterborough from May 31 onwards between 3.30pm to 5pm.
For more information on how to get involved with the harvest, visit www.belvoirfruitfarms.co.uk or call 01476 870286.