Blossomtime 2024 – celebrating orchards, apples and cider in Herefordshire

Blossomtime 2024 – celebrating orchards, apples and cider in Herefordshire

This special springtime opportunity to enjoy the local orchards famed for their cider, dessert and culinary fruit, takes place over two days on Sunday 5th and Monday 6th May. This year, community organisers the Big Apple Association have spread their wings to co-ordinate more activities than ever across three familiar venues, Putley Parish Hall, Court Farm Barn in Aylton and Putley’s Dragon Orchard, each offering a different experience. Putley Parish Hall will be the welcome hub, where visitors can park, buy their entrance tickets (£5 for adults, children under 16 free, valid for all three venues), pick up leaflets and start walks, both guided and ‘freestyle’, around the orchards.  It will also be the centre for the famous Blossomtime lunches and teas, provided in turn by Aylton Church, Munsley WI, Ledbury Young Farmers and Putley WI. Court Farm Barn, Aylton will be the centre for arts, crafts, demonstrations, workshops and talks, where Laughing Betsy will co-ordinate a collaboration between visitors, craftspeople and artists to create an installation reflecting themes of regeneration, re-use, natural materials and nature. Dragon Orchard will host sample tastings selected from 150 entries to the 2024 Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials, a number of cider/perry makers selling their wares and music, poetry and entertainment in the orchard.  Or visitors can just wander amongst the fruit trees, soaking up the sounds and scents of nature. Visitors will be encouraged to walk between the three venues – they are all within easy reach of each other – but for those who may need some assistance or just for the sheer fun of it, a tractor and passenger trailer will be available, as has happened at Harvestime for several years now.  Speakers include Adam Wells, author of ‘Perry: A Drinker’s Guide’ and Gabe Cook, the well known and now locally resident Ciderologist. Full programme details are available at https://www.bigapple.org.uk/blossomtime/

Momentum grows as fresh blood takes the helm of Britain’s leading craft cider association

Momentum grows as fresh blood takes the helm of Britain’s leading craft cider association

Albert Johnson of Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company and Lydia Crimp of Artistraw Cider [Photo: Rebecca Fletcher]

Craft cider and perry producers around the country stand to gain as Albert Johnson of Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company, and Lydia Crimp of Artistraw Cider, are elected to the top two roles at the Three Counties Cider & Perry Association (TCCPA).

“It is a privilege to chair the largest membership association of small cidermakers in the UK,” said fourth generation cidermaker Albert. “My father, Mike, was a founding member of the TCCPA, so to continue the legacy is very special.”

Lydia, co-founder of Artistraw Cider and co-chair of the pan-industry group, Cider Women, joins Albert as his deputy. “I am excited to be given the opportunity to add to the TCCPA’s already rich history,” said Lydia. “It’s an honour to be working with such dedicated and talented people.”

Representing over 100 cider producers located far beyond the association’s original boundaries of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, the vibrancy and energy of the revitalised sector is symbolised by members’ desire not just to reach out to consumers but also to learn and move forward.

First up will be CraftCon 2024, at the beginning of April. “This will be the fifth anniversary of this landmark event, organised and hosted by the association,” said Albert. “I hope to build on what we have achieved in the last five years to continue to achieve our aims of supporting and promoting the interests of cider and perry producers in our Three Counties region, but also all across the UK.”

“With five weeks to go, I’d urge all fellow cider professionals to join us for what will be an incredible couple of days with many of the world’s leading lights sharing their wisdom,” said Albert.

“As always, the CraftCon programme will cover topics within three main strands of orcharding, cidermaking and business and marketing. This year, with more speakers and more subjects being covered than ever before, there really is something for everyone! In amongst all of the learning CraftCon also offers excellent networking opportunities throughout the conference, culminating in the now famous Friday evening bottle share,” said Lydia.

CraftCon 2024 takes place on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th April 2024 at the Royal Agricultural University, Circencester. Over two days there will be over 20 speakers and panellists presenting interactive workshops and seminars aimed at aspiring and existing cidermakers in the UK and beyond. There will be two keynote speakers: Adam Wells, co-founder of Cider-Review.com and author of forthcoming book, Perry: A Drinkers’ Guide, and James Crowden renowned and award-winning author and poet.

“My predecessor, Dave Sanders brought the membership back together after the disruption of COVID to ensure the successful re-establishment of CraftCon,” said Albert, “The quality this year will be a fitting legacy to all his hard work.”

“We look forward to seeing you there,” said Lydia. “The future of cider looks very bright indeed!”

CraftCon is being generously supported by lead sponsor, The National Association of Cidermakers, as well as The London Cider House and Pershore Press, with other sponsors to be confirmed.

Notes:

  • The TCCPA was founded in 1993 by a group of craft scale cider makers who came together at the cider and perry trials run by the The Big Apple in the parish of Putley in Herefordshire. From these early beginnings, membership has now grown significantly. With over 100 members, the TCCPA seeks to represent and support small craft cider and perry producers and enthusiasts via several means, including that of education and training.
  • Membership of the TCCPA extends beyond the borders of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and is open to cidermakers, large and small, aspiring or commercial, hobbyists or advocates, and others with an interest in the cider world. Contact membership secretary, Tom Tibbits, for further details. tom.tibbits@gmail.com
  • On Tuesday 30th  January 2024, TCCPA held its Annual General Meeting at The Cider Museum in Hereford. At the AGM, Albert, Lydia and the new committee was elected.
  • Further information about CraftCon 2024 is available on the TCCPA’s dedicated CraftCon website and on Instagram and Facebook.
Traditional cider apple harvesting using a hooklug [Photo: Rebecca Fletcher]

Traditional cider apple harvesting using a hooklug [Photo: Rebecca Fletcher]