It sometimes feels ridiculous to be talking about cider when there are far bigger issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss to worry about. We believe that for any real change to happen we all need to live, work, eat and drink sustainably and our business Artistraw Cider is our way of doing that...
We moved to Herefordshire from London in 2017 in search of a more self-sufficient existence. Tom had been religiously coming to Herefordshire every Autumn since the early 2000’s to make cider with his relatives and the late Brian Jones (known by many in the cider making world) so after placing second in the ‘London Amateur Cider Maker Awards’ it seemed to make perfect sense to up and leave London behind to pursue the noble art of cider making in a more devoted way! We now live in the Golden Valley, just outside the picturesque book town of Hay on Wye where we grow all of our own food in our no dig permaculture and forest gardens that we have created from scratch.
Even more than cider is the love we have for our orchards. We are currently planting a traditional standard orchard in our 2.5 acre wild flower meadow. It will never be sprayed with horrible chemicals and instead be a haven for plants and wildlife. Each variety of apple or pear in the orchard has been chosen either because it is extremely rare or because it makes excellent cider! At the moment we have around 80 different varieties with space for lots more as we track down long forgotten varieties and some that were thought lost forever. Whilst our orchard is growing we pick from other local unsprayed, traditional standard orchards. From large old orchards to the occasional interesting tree in someone’s back garden, we hand pick all of our fruit using the mantra ‘if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, then don’t put it in the cider’. We keep things as local as possible and none of our orchards are further than 10 miles away.
We don’t add anything to the pressed juice (no water, no sugar, no sulphites). It is left to gently ferment over Winter whilst we keep careful watch over the specific gravities. When ready it is bottled into glass bottles and labelled by hand using an upcycled, water soluble, natural corn starch glue that we developed ourselves. All of our labels are designed and illustrated by Lydia and printed onto recycled paper. Many of the illustrations are now created using natural inks and paints, hand-made by us from plants grown on our small holding. The cider is then ready to distribute to the customer! Our very favourite way of doing this is at markets or other local events as we love getting to meet the people drinking the cider (as well as reducing the need for extra packaging!) but we also sell in selected bars and bottle shops and via our online shop where the cider is delivered in recyclable boxes and sealed with compostable packaging tape. Where possible we encourage our customers to return their bottles to us so that we can re-use them.
We know that there will always be work to do when it comes to protecting our planet and will to continue to change, adapt, and grow only in ways that benefit the Earth. Hopefully we can take some of you along with us on the way!