Eddisbury Fruit Farm - Cheshire Apple Juice
PUBLISHED: 00:12 19 November 2009 | UPDATED: 16:15 20 February 2013
When it comes to the crunch, it is difficult to beat the taste of the Cheshire Apple Juice grown and bottled in Kelsall
It is no wonder the juice and cider made at Eddisbury Fruit Farm tastes so sweet. Nestled deep in the lush, Cheshire countryside in the heart of the Vale Royal at Kelsall, the more than 20 varieties of apples grown here have clean air, almost 50 acres to spread their branches and stunning views.
The successful fruit farm is run by Colin Haworth and stepson Michael Dykes. Colin, 63, learned his craft and took the reins in 1971 from his father, Leslie, who had bought and converted the former dairy farm into a fruit farm. Apples and a number of soft fruits have been grown at the 49 acre site since then and the Women's Land Army also worked the land there during the war growing apples, pears and plums.
The apples were once sold wholesale as well as grown for 'pick your own', along with other soft fruits. But when Michael, 33, joined the business in 1996 he wanted to make apple juice.
He explained: 'Pick your own just didn't seem to be as successful anymore. It is nowhere near as popular as it originally was.
'We had all these delicious apples at the end of the season that there was no use for. I don't think Colin was that convinced at first so I told him I'd buy the apples off him. I went to the bank and got the money to set up and I've not really looked back. I've proved myself.'
Michael's gamble paid off. Today, the pair are making quite an impact on the foodie world. They have gone from producing 35,000 to 100,000 bottles of apple juice a year and their Cheshire Cider received the Best Beverage Award from Food NorthWest earlier this year. Colin also attends a raft of farmers' markets, they host their own monthly farmers' market at the farm and for many years they have run a farm shop as well as a tea room. Michael's mum and Colin's wife, Monica, is also involved with the business. She used to run the tea shop on site but now she concentrates on helping to make the business run smoothly as well as cooking up pots and pots of Granny Haworth's jam made from the fruits grown at Eddisbury Fruit Farm.
This month it will be all hands to the pump as they, and an army of local workers, pick the fruit from the many orchards during harvest season. They will aim to pick all of the apples and press them into juice by Christmas.
Colin, who grew up at the farm, said that picking season is always a special time.
He said: 'It's hard work but there's a bit of soul searching that goes on and you find that it really sorts some of them out. We've also had some romance and one of the pickers and a member of our farm staff have got married.
'I love picking season because it's like we're one big family. But I love being out in the orchards, this farm has a lot of happy memories for me and there's something relaxing about being out there. Michael has done really well and I am proud of him.'
The pair has recently planted out another five acres and they have plans to lease out the farm shop so they can concentrate on the apple juice and cider side of the business.
Michael, who also works around the world as a freelance computer programmer, said: 'We never expected it to be as successful as it has been. We just didn't expect it to take off in the way it has. Whatever we make, we can sell.
'But we have good products. Our juices and cider has nothing taken out and nothing added. They have been made here at Eddisbury for more than 70 years, we love what we do and we want that to continue for many years to come.'