People in the Melton borough who have been made redundant or put on furlough during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic are among those being invited to top up their incomes by picking elderflowers to make soft drinks for Belvoir Fruit Farms.
Demand for the Bottesford-based company’s cordial – driven by at-home consumption during lockdown – has soared by 15 per cent.
And with elderflower harvest season now upon us, the firm needs and army of pickers to bring them in throughout this month.
The fresh, locally grown elderflowers are the heart of the company’s much-loved, natural elderflower cordial and pressé, which are still based on the Manners family’s original recipe.
Belvoir Fruit Farms managing director Pev Manners picks elderflowers on one of the company’s plantations EMN-200206-095203001 Copyright: Other 3rd Party.
The drinks company estimates it will need between 15 and 20 tonnes of picked elderflowers over the next month, comprised of both organic elderflowers from the 60 acres of company-owned plantations and from the miles of wild hedgerows across Leicestershire.
Elderflowers will be purchased from pickers by the kilogram, making it both great outdoor exercise and an ideal way to top up earnings for those whose income has been impacted by the health crisis restrictions.
Pev Manners, managing director of Belvior Fruit Farms, said: “This is undoubtedly a year like no other and we’ve been overwhelmed by the willingness from the local community to still lend their support to this year’s harvest, despite the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in.
“Each year we have an incredible response from people around Leicestershire, but also hundreds of willing volunteers from across the county.
Elderflower Cordial produced by Belvoir Fruit Farms EMN-200206-095141001 Copyright: Other 3rd Party
“Whether you’re an annual picker or a first-time volunteer, we’re really encouraging the local community to get behind us so we can gather the volume of elderflowers needed for our much-loved drinks.
“Truly, anyone can do it, at any age, and purchasing by the kilogram gives our pickers the freedom to do as much or as little as they like.
“Pickers don’t need any special equipment or training, so it’s a perfect way to safely get out of the house, bring the family and enjoy some exercise in our beautiful British countryside, all whilst earning some extra income.
“It’s a very mindful task, so at a time of great uncertainty, it has the potential to really improve physical, mental and economic wellbeing.”
To ensure social-distancing measures remain in place, elderflowers will only be collected from the company’s Bottlesford site, which is located off the A52, between 3pm and 6pm on Monday to Friday.
The season started on June 1 and runs until the end of the month and, to ensure product freshness, pickers will be encouraged to pick and drop off on the same day.
At the factory, clear signage will be in place with floor markings to indicate the two-metre social distancing, a one-way system for drop-off and payment, and marshals in place to guide and advise pickers on the process.
As in previous years, pickers will be paid in cash once the elderflowers have been weighed and verified.
Mr Manners added: “Keeping our staff and pickers safe is our number one priority, and we’re encouraging everyone who is out picking, potentially in the same field or hedgerow, to respect social distancing with others at all times and to follow the guidance from our friendly team at the factory.
“We’ve got a clear and robust process in place, so we’re confident that despite the obvious challenges that we face going into the 2020 season, we can still make this year’s harvest as successful as they have been in the past.”
Words & pictures courtesy of The Melton Times newspaper.