UK storm devastates Naish's cider farm near Glastonbury
Sunday night’s storm could be the beginning of the end for traditional Somerset cider production at Naish’s Cider Farm near Glastonbury.
Naish’s Cider Farm at Piltown lost 14 trees in the storm which wreaked havoc in the early hours of Monday morning. The storm hit Piltown farm at around 3.45am on Monday.
Frank Naish, 89, has been making cider at Piltown Farm since he was seven, first with his father, William, then with his late brother Harold. Mr Naish has the oldest cider press in the county. It is believed to date from around 1840, and at 89 Mr Naish is the oldest cider maker in the country.
Paul Chant, who has been helping Mr Naish at the cider farm for the past few years, and brewing his own cider, said: “It was like a mini tornado. We had 14 trees down, some with their heads off and six were ripped right out.”
FREE WHEATGERM WITH EVERY POND HEATER www.blagdon-water-gardens.c...View details
Protect your pond fish this winter. Purchase the resun 100w pond heater £39.99 from www.blagdon-water-gardens.co.uk and we will give you a pot of Tetra wheatgerm 1l winter fishfood worth £4.99 FREE
Contact: 01934 316673
Valid until: Friday, February 28 2014
The damage has called the future of cider production at the farm into question. Mr Chant posted a bleak message on Facebook in the wake of the storm:
“After this latest storm, with a further 12 apple trees no longer with us, countless damaged trees with limbs ripped off, the cost of clearing up, replacing fences and replacement of new trees and the time involved with care growing/grafting and planting/setting out, we are now drawn to the conclusion that producing cider at a loss is no longer a viable concern.
“I really don’t think that there is much future in producing artisan cider unless you can at least cover costs and break even. This leaves me with the thought that maybe its time to start looking at other alternative uses for the land and to leave the cider making to the large industries with their concentrates and chemicals. This may well be the start of the end for cider here at Piltown Farm, Somerset.”
However, Mr Chant has decided he is not ready to throw in the towel yet and plans to do his best to keep the cider flowing and safeguard the orchards and the environment.
He added another post to his Facebook page which said: “I suppose its not just about the financial viability but more of future environmental viability towards its stability.”
He is deeply concerned about the loss of wildlife and pollinators as well as trees. Mr Chant said: “We have planted 230 new trees in the last four years and saved endangered varieties with the help of the Glastonbury Conservation Society. I want to plant an orchard with wildflowers to encourage the bees and other pollinators.
“Our orchards are in such decline that they are going to be wiped out in 20 years. An apple tree lives as long as a human, they are all old now and dying off by the dozen. Modern bush orchards don’t last more than 25 years.”
Mr Chant and Mr Naish produce 7,000 litres of a cider a year each. Mr Chant said: “Our cider takes four or five months to be ready, depending on the weather conditions. For the last three to four years the weather has been so adverse - it’s not natural. Our environment has changed.
“The big companies have destroyed the cider industry with their chemicals and cheap alcohol. As a company you can’t exist anymore - it’s a hobby - but we will try and keep going.”