May is a big month here in the Vale of Belvoir. For six glorious weeks, the surrounding hedgerows come alive with sweet-smelling wild elderflower and our own 60 acres of organic elderflower burst into bloom. It’s nature doing its thing and the heady fragrance is out of this world!
Belvoir Farm’s manager, Keith, can breathe a sigh of relief at having pulled off another successful harvest – although elderflower grows beautifully in the shelter of the wild hedgerows, it’s surprisingly tricky to grow in rows, even with lots of organic attention!
The Belvoir team, and our loyal local pickers, know it’s the perfect time to harvest the large- headed flowers, warmed by the sun and heavy with dusky yellow pollen. Observing the Countryside Code, they hit the hedgerows and our own organic plantation with gusto. Year in, year out, they do us proud.
Within 24 hours of harvesting, the flower heads are poured into a vat and hand-stirred gently – and so begins our decades old tradition of making Belvoir’s much-loved elderflower cordial, from Mary Manner’s original recipe. As a soft drink, a recipe ingredient or a delicious splash to cocktails and mocktails, it stands the test of time!
With harvest gathered in, Keith gets busy giving back to the land with gentle tilling, aeration and organic fertilising of the plantation, being sure to protect the established nature corridors around it – for wildflowers, butterflies, pollinators and fallow deer.
It’s all part of doing the right thing by the land and the wider eco-system, as nature’s cycle begins again.