It’s been a long, valuable day:
I attended a short course run by Celtic Recipes at the Ivy Bush Hotel in Carmarthen, which was all about how to develop & promote a speciality food brand. I can honestly say, it’s probably the best £30 I’ve invested, in a long time; a thoroughly informative & interesting series of discussions & lectures which has taught me a very greal deal & I would highly recommend it to other artisan food producers – regardless of whether you’re just starting out as we are; or already have an established business. There was a wide range & breadth of new & experienced producers in attendance: including Lorraine, who produces ‘Kid-Me-Not’ goat fudge; Susan, who furnished us all with a delicious snack from Tregroes Waffle Bakery; Jessica & Penny from Tony’s favourite cottage brewery, producing the heavenly Pen Lon ales; Lynda & Olwen, just setting up a bottled springwater company, called Beacons Dew; & my old friend & one-time Farming Connect mentor, Teleri, who now works for the successful organic milkshake company, Daioni. There were also meat producers, bakers & farm shop owners (Philip & Luke are expanding their shop at Pembrokeshire Coast Organic Meat on 1st December – don’t miss the opening event!) as well as speciality freelance chef Jackie, whose daughter owns the wonderful delicatessen chain, Ultracomida. Thus I had the pleasure to meet a group of great, passionate artisan producers, & look forward to bumping into them again at various food events across the country.
Russell was our knowledgeable workshop leader, ably assisted by Bethan who ensured the day ran smoothly. We covered brand characteristics, brand planning, & communicating the brand; with guest speakers Matt from the wonderful Bacheldre Water Mill organic flour company & Natalie from Focus PR, providing informative lectures on how to market your brand successfully. I found the whole day an excellent complement to the Design Wales workshop I attended at Horeb earlier in the year; & whilst the task ahead is often daunting (you wouldn’t believe how much it costs just to get the packaging right!), if I apply myself & do my homework thoroughly we should now be able to launch our products with conviction, confidence & success. Added to the workshop we were treated to a two-course lunch with coffee; & each given a workbook & associated three-hour DVD as a complementary home study package. In essence, the whole day served to fire my enthusiasm: not just to craft excellent artisan foods; but to really shout about how wonderful they are & how great fresh, local produce is for us & for the environment – so thanks, Celtic Recipes, for an excellent workshop – I’ll be attending the others in the series as soon as possible.
Back home, & back to the reality of running a busy farm: we simply had to get the rest of the sheep drenched & jabbed this evening, despite the grim, dark drizzle which had settled over the valley. Thankfully we got through the rest of the flock pretty quickly (lucky for us that old MacDougal’s such a docile, friendly ram as we don’t have a proper holding ‘race’ – & he’s a big lad if he struggles) – though with their flighty Shetland blood, some of the ewes were far worse – especially old ‘Headcase’, a feisty black ewe who’s the fizziest of the bunch & not afraid of giving an insolent human the odd WALLOP! with her hard little head if she thinks we deserve it (& today’s treatments were no exception). Relieved to have succesfully got the job done at last, we left the flock huddled (literally) sheepishly at the back of the barn, clearly dreading the next onslaught (it’s foot trimming next but I don’t know who dreads it more – them or us; as it’s back-breaking work).
Then, it was back in for a hearty stew for supper, before curling up with a good cheese book & dreaming of the day when I’ll actually be able to get out there & sell the blessed stuff.