Ask a fruit or cider producer how they deal with attack from pests and diseases on their fruit, and you would like to hear something along the lines of Somerset Cider Brandy’s response:

Our policy of growing apples is to use the minimum of sprays possible, often not spraying at all. We use no artificial nitrogen, which means we produce smaller and tastier apples than those grown in orchards for industrial cider. In fermenting and making cider we use traditional methods, fermenting juice in the autumn without first turning it into concentrate.

“Our policy of growing apples is to use the minimum of sprays possible, often not spraying at all. We use no artificial nitrogen, which means we produce smaller and tastier apples than those grown in orchards for industrial cider. In fermenting and making cider we use traditional methods, fermenting juice in the autumn without first turning it into concentrate”.

This is also the case over in stateside orchards like Farnum Hill in New Hampshire. Where the colder winters deal with any pests.

Somerset Cider Brandy is part of the Slow Food Movement, in our view this is more relevant to our artisan production than the current organic system, which did a grand job in the 80’s but has not evolved to meet new challenges. Currently, ‘organic’ often means huge businesses supplying the supermarkets or goods imported by airplane from the other side of the planet at a vast carbon cost.

The Slow Food Movement has grown from its Italian roots and promotes good local products and proven safe methods of artisan production. Today, Slow Food  has over 100,000 members in 132 countries.

Three counties perry and Somerset Cider Brandy were declared part of the Ark of Taste project. Which was launched in Turin in 1996 to catalogue, describe and draw public attention to food products from around the world that have real productive and commercial potential and are closely linked to specific communities and cultures – but are, alas, at risk of extinction.

So from what you can see a caring and ecologically minded cider producer is both thinking organically and embracing the slow food thinking.

Yet today, the Soil Association are the face of organic producers in the UK, visible in practically every supermarket across the country. Supporting organic principles is as easy as buying products with the Soil Association organic logo.

Why is slow food not more recognised in the UK? There is no Slow Food logo to put on foods or in shops, they are not a certifying body and have no plans to become one. A big area of discussion is how Slow Food, home to the artisanal producer, can ever work with supermarkets.

Learn more at Slow Food UK and find a local group near you to get involved!

  • In 2008 we made a cider from cull fruit grown organically to Soil Association standards. We paid a premium for the fruit, but since we are not registered as organic could not market the resulting cider as organic in any way and therefore could not charge a premium for the cider. Most irritating of all is the fact that this 'organic' fruit had been repeatedly sprayed with Sulphur in an attempt to reduce the incidence of scab during a very wet summer. All our other ciders and perrys are made from fruit grown extensively in totally unsprayed, largely unmanged orchards, ie. more 'organic' than the organic apples. For this and other reasons (ridiculous food miles, veg grown for disease resistance rather than flavour for example) I choose to put locality and other quality issues above a food or drinks claims for organic credentials. 'Organic' is just another business with its own profit agenda…

  • That's really interesting to hear your experience with 'organic' Mark. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

  • We do not spray our fruit – but like others cannot claim to be “organic” as we do not know the long-term history of the land on which we have planted and continue to plant our trees. The costs of registering as “organic” is another turn-off. So we grow our own apples as organically as we can. However, we do ensure we follow the “Slow Food” principles by only using apples grown within the county boundaries of Nottinghamshire – we help support small Nottinghamshire growers and those who grow old and threatened apple varieties that would otherwise fall by the way-side of modern intensive bush-orchards. Our mantra is to make a true Nottinghamshire Cider, the best we can with the fruit grown locally. A local cider for local people…