What We do.
The Garden Cider Company makes a range of ciders sourced entirely from community donated apples. We have over 3000 registered members who each year bring us their spare and unwanted garden apples. In return our members receive a share of the cider made back for free. We take a spare and unwanted natural resource and turn it into crafted, sustainable and premium products. With your help we plan to take the next steps in our development, reach more households and families and finally offer the juice we have always hoped to produce.
The scheme is open to anyone with access to apples or pears and is free to take part in, our members bring their spare fruit each year happy to do something with their fruit rather than watch it fall to the ground wasted.
Who we are.
We wanted to make cider but had no space to grow trees or the money to buy apples. We believed that many local gardens could have apple trees producing gluts of fruit each year. If we could harness that fruit we would have access to a virtual orchard on an enourmous scale. To encourage folk to In return for their apples we could offer those supporting us a share of the cider made - a simple idea that we hoped would be well received.
The company was launched by brothers Ben and Will Filby in 2011 with a small advert placed in the local press. Such was the response to the offer we had to find proper premises immediately that year. Since launching the number of registered housholds has grown each year, spread purely through word of mouth and is now over 3000.
Our members have supported and helped grow the company and recognise the ethics and ethos behind the concept. They take immense satisfaction from putting their fruit to good use rather than seeing it go to waste - "There's only so many apple pies you can make" being one of the most common phrases we hear!
We pride ourselves on being Craft, Premium, Ethical and Sustainable:
Craft: The whole process from apple delivery, to finished product is done at Mill House Farm. We have some help for the pressing season, but every cider we sell has been hand made during the process.
Premium: The ciders are naturally fermented, 100% fresh juice made with only the finest natural fruit juices added for flavour.
Ethical: We are a registered Social Enterprise. We beieve in the way we source our ingredients and are defined by the cooperation and understanding we have with the community that supply us the fruit.
Sustainable: By using fruit that would otherwise go to waste we are taking a natural and largely wasted resource and creating something of quality from it. There are 1000’s of tonnes of waste apples that we hope to use.
In 2015 our seach for more suitable premesis lead us to Mill House Farm and knowing it was right, moved in as soon as possible. It has proven to be a perfect fit, we now have the space to bring the project to life including fields for planting trees.
Because currently we rely totally on the public's apples to make our natural ciders, we are also reliant on the great British Weather and the natural bi-annual cropping tendencies of garden apple trees. Every other year our members have a poor harvest, to level out this fluctuation we plan to increase planting apple trees at our new premises.
As well as planting cider apple trees we plan to grow an orchard of eating apples and install a bottling line to allow us to produce a regular supply of quality apple juice. This will enhance the range of products we can offer as a business, but more importantly open up our enterprise to a wider section of the community. Our members, especially those with families, have been asking us since we started if they could take apple juice instead of cider. Very simply in order to give back apple juice we need to be able to pasteurise and bottle it properly and safely - this kind of equipment is expensive - this is where crowdfunder comes in.
With your help we will purchase a chiller tank to store the juice and keep it cold prior to processing. We will then need a pasteurisation unit to run the juice through. This will kill off any harmful bacteria present and also ensure the fresh juice doesn't start to ferment by killing off any yeast. Lastly we will buy a filling machine to rinse, fill and cap the glass bottles.
Once this process is complete we will have safe, fresh juice to give to our members and also sell to our customers.
The juice facility is so important because it allows us to get the wider community involved directly in what we do. At the moment, most of our members are households and families who actively take part in the harvest of fruit. We work with some schools and PTA's organise parents to bring spare apples into the school, and we give back cider to the school to sell at summer fete's etc.
Once we can offer juice we can directly work with the schools, providing juice back for the children in return for apples. There is an obvious educational aspect in terms of our food production, waste and provenance that can be directly illustrated by what we do and how we do it, having apple juice as a product is essential to doing this, where as cider is not.
In terms of apple trees, we intend to plant around 3000 eating apples, 3 varieties, all organic. This orchard will provide consistent and high quality apple juice to supplement the apples dropped off by our members and complete the development at the farm.
As a social enterprise we take our role in the community seriously. We are raising awareness about food waste by re-using normally wasted fruit, we are also sustainable, ethical and a Social Enterprise.
The last part of our project here at Mill House Farm will be to restore the listed remains of a 18thC "Smock Mill" to full working glory here at the farm. This will form the centrepiece of the farm and be open to and used as an educational resource for local schools and the wider community. The working windmill will not only be a living landmark, but also a very real statement about sustainability.
Thank you, and we hope to see you down at the farm soon,
Ben and Will Filby