FARM PRODUCTIVITY

COAST TO COAST LAG

£26,213.64 FUNDED

Cuckoo Valley Cider Farm

Cuckoo Valley Cider Farm

To develop a cider, apple juice, honey and soft fruit business through the installation of a building and processing equipment

Fresh growth for cider orchard

The craft cider industry has seen a boom in recent years, with consumers demonstrating increasing interest in the quality of the beverage, as well as the skills and ethos of the craftspeople behind the brand. Words like ‘traditional’ and ‘authentic’ are hard-earned and not every company can (or perhaps should) lay claim to them…

One company that can, however, is Cuckoo Valley Cider, run by partners Lorraine O’Connor and Colin Holmes.  Starting their enterprise from their former home in Berkshire, they now run a successful orchard, barn and tap room in Nancekuke, Cornwall.

There is no better example of a grassroots company than this, with the couple having planted over 1500 trees – of more than 40 varieties – across their sheltered valley near the North coast. And this planting schedule is less than half-way through- no mean feat, as Lorraine explains: “We have another four thousand planned.”

100% proper cider
In between her duties planting and cultivating the Cuckoo Valley orchard, Lorraine produces and sells her ‘proper cider’, as she calls it, at food fairs and markets across the Southwest, as well as direct from the barn, onsite.

Clean, simple and traditional seems to be a winning formula for her customers and for locals to the Nancekuke cider farm, who are encouraged to bring their own unwanted apples and exchange them for cider or freshly pressed apple juice…. If there’s any left! The juice, which is pressed, pasteurised and bottled the same day, is in high demand: “My daughter puts a cup under the tank as it comes out!” says Lorraine.

LEADER funding increases capacity
With the pressing, bottling and labelling all conducted by hand, Lorraine and her team sought funding to modernise their processes and allow them to scale their craft cider enterprise. As Lorraine explains, “With help of Leader, we invested in a hydraulic press and wash-mill.” This machinery enabled the team to manage the washing, sorting and crushing of apples with greater speed and efficiency, increasing their capacity.

Since the investment, Lorraine has been able to focus more of her energy on the skilled the part of a cider-maker’s job, using the traditional ‘rack and cloth’ method to make a ‘cheese’ of apple pulp, before allowing it to ‘wild ferment.’

With the machinery in place to help them scale and a product that is growing in acclaim, Lorraine and her team are setting their sights on growth – starting with bigger shows. “Royal Cornwall was a great shop window for us,” says Lorraine, who welcomed the interest and media attention generated by the event. With more events planned and visitor tastings hosted at their onsite tap room, the future for Cuckoo Valley Cider looks rosy.

To find out more about Cuckoo Valley Cider, go to cuckoovalley.co.uk

Key documents

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