The story behind The Cotswold Fruit Company: Bushel+Peck cider and perry and Humblebee juice

Bushel + Peck Medium Dry Cider

Bushel + Peck Medium Dry Cider - Credit: Archant

When David Lindgren exchanged the corporate world to set up The Cotswold Fruit Company and a life of self-employment, it was with the intention of keeping things as simple and as local as possible. And nothing has changed in the intervening years

Bushel + Peck Medium Dry Cider

Bushel + Peck Medium Dry Cider - Credit: Archant

From the very beginning, Bushel+Peck cider and perry and Humblebee juice has been made only with unsprayed apples gathered from gardens and traditional orchards in Gloucestershire - for good reasons.

Unsprayed fruit from traditional orchards

Unsprayed means exactly what it says - that no sprays have been used on the trees or the fruit that are used to make the Bushel+Peck and Humblebee. No fertilisers, no insecticides, no herbicides, no fungicides, nothing at all. Or, to put it another way, sprayed only by rain (and snow and sleet and hail, of course). In this way, he can be sure that the fruit is as natural as possible and that no birds, bees, bugs or mammals have been harmed unnecessarily in the making of their drinks. The company's financial support of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust is related to this environmental attention as well as, of course, the important role bees play in pollinating fruit trees.

Bushel + Peck Medium Dry Cider

Bushel + Peck Medium Dry Cider - Credit: Archant

As a maker of cider and juice, David considers all orchards to be good, but some are better than others, and best of all are old traditional orchards; orchards where the trees are grown on vigourous rootstock, so they become large, old, gnarled trees; orchards where the trees are well spaced, so there's plenty of space in between where grasses and wildflowers can flourish; orchards that are managed in a low intensity way (again, no sprays!). Orchards like this become a myriad of ecosystems - woodland, grassland, scrubland, hedgerow - all in close proximity to eachother and this is what makes them havens of biodiversity. It also makes them very pleasant places in which to work, in which to walk Pippi the Dog, in which to while away an occasional idle moment.

Unsprayed fruit from gardens

The Cotswold Fruit Company is perhaps a misnomer, since the company doesn't own any orchards of its own; not in the Cotswolds, nor anywhere else in Gloucestershire or beyond. It gets much of the fruit it uses from people's back gardens. From the very outset of building the business, David discovered that many households with apple trees in their back gardens don't know what to do with all the fruit. So, in exchange for free juice or cider, David collects fruit from all over Gloucestershire to turn it into Bushel+Peck cider or Humblebee juice, asking homeowners to confirm that their trees haven't been sprayed, and that they are in Gloucestershire. He also asks that the quality of the apples is good - they don't have to be perfect, but good enough that you'd eat them.

Bushel + Peck Medium Dry Cider

Bushel + Peck Medium Dry Cider - Credit: Archant

There is plenty of great quality of fruit around, so it's a matter of using what is locally available. Is a sustainable, low food miles way of sourcing a key raw material for his business.

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Local, Gloucestershire

David Lindgren and his family live in Gloucestershire. His business is based near Northleach, Gloucestershire. So it makes sense that the fruit he uses comes from Gloucestershire. There really is no need to look further afield - and certainly no need to import anything from abroad. The company does buy in strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb juice to make Humblebee Refresher, but they insist it comes from Britain and is never, ever made from concentrate.

Stop press: David has given this some thought recently and has reaslised that it's a bit daft to say "no" to fruit from Worcestershire just four miles from his home and "yes" to fruit from Gloucestershire 34 miles from his home. From this coming autumn, therefore, he might even use fruit from neighbouring counties, so long as it's no further than the furthest source of fruit within Gloucestershire. The important thing is to keep food miles as low as possible.

And local is important in other respects. The labels for the brands have been designed by local, Gloucestershire designers. Rather than import a pasteuriser from Italy, he commissioned one to be made by a local engineering company. He uses local suppliers wherever possible.

Bushel+Peck cider and perry: handcrafted in Gloucestershire

Currently, there are 2 ciders and one perry available, all softly sparkling.

- Fresh+Crisp medium dry cider: made with eating apples, this is a cider with a simple, clean taste profile and lovely appley aroma. May taste more like a dry cider. In one word, REFRESHING.

- Rich+Mellow medium dry cider: made with a blend of cider apples (Alford Sweet, Browns, Bulmer's Norman, Dabinett, Yarlington Mill), this is an easy drinking, quaffable, West County cider, with a more complex taste profile that Fresh+Crisp.

- Sweet+Smooth perry: perry has a more subtle and delicate taste profile than cider, this is more akin to drinking sparkling wine. Medium dry in sweetness, it retains the characteristic sweetness of pears, well balanced with a touch of acidity.

Humblebee 100% natural pressed apple juice: refreshingly simple, reassuringly natural

As simple as it's possible for apple juice to be: 100% apple juice and nothing else. Apples are milled and pressed in the morning, the juice is bottled and pasteurised in the afternoon, which helps to explain why the juice tastes as it does - of apples.

There are a number of single varieties available - Adams' Pearmain, Ashmead's Kernel, Bramley, Golden Deliocious, Spartan, Newton Wonder to name a few, but these will change from year to year, depending on the fruit that is collected from the gardens and traditional orchards of Gloucestershire (with, possibly, some fruit from nearby neighbouring counties!).

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