Jonathan's Mistletoe Diary

September 29, 2007

Mistletoe Survey Reprise/Ground-truthing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 7:50 pm

As hinted at in entry for 23rd September, I’m planning some new analysis of the 1990s UK mistletoe survey data this winter.  This will need some help from volunteers – to ‘ground-truth’ some of the more questionable records over the winter period (when mistletoe is easy to spot as the leaves are off the host trees). 

No hurry yet – I need to work out what needs to be checked first – realistically I won’t be able to say what needs to be done until January onwards.  But offers of help are always welcome (you’ll need to be able to correctly identify trees in winter though!).  Full details available in BSBI News 106.  For those who aren’t members of the BSBI I’m posting a pdf of the BSBI News request here.

Mistletoe adds value, but how much???

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 10:08 am

Glasu Spent a very stimulating day talking about orchards on Thursday (27th) – at a workshop organised by Glasu at a country house (Penpont) near Brecon.  Glasu, for those who don’t know them, are an organisation piloting ‘innovative approaches to rural development to help develop more sustainable communities in rural Wales’.

 

Thursday’s do was part of their New Harvest Project – which helps to adds value to local food produced in Powys – through innovative marketing, crops etc. 
 

Our theme for the day was Adding Value to Powys Orchards, with invited speakers and stall-holders showing what could be done – in theory and in practice, to get more from orchards than just apples…

 

No prizes for guessing why I was there – my brief was to discuss harvesting and marketing mistletoe from orchards.  Easy enough to talk about in principle – but always difficult to come up with firm figures – just how much money can you make from an orchard crop at Christmas?  After all these years I still can’t give a definite answer to that one! (too many variables, not enough firm data)

 

Gyokitvoucher_2Despite this everyone seemed very keen – echoing similar discussions I’ve had with orchard owners in Herefordshire and elsewhere.  Reg and Alec from TEME came along too, and we presented our new Grow Your Own Kit Gift Card for the first time.  More on that when the new TEME website goes live next week – but in essence it’s a new angle to our Grow-Kits, making them more suitable as Christmas presents.  With these the lucky recipient will actually get something at Christmas (the card) and not have to wait until February (when the kits are sent out) to get tangible proof they’ve been given something…

 

Other elements of the day included presentations on apple juicing business, cropsharing your orchard crop, marketing local fruit to school tuck shops etc, canning orchard fruit at home, cider and perry making in Wales, local fruit for food co-ops and the results of a survey of Powys Orchards (this last was presented by the ‘Orchard Doctors’).  All extremely good stuff, and very applely presented.

 

Penpont The venue was impressive too – Penpont, described ‘one of the finest houses situated within the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park’, certainly lives up to expectations.  Owned by the same family since it was first built (1666) it is still at the centre of a 2000 acre estate, and has, in recent years, become a centre for organic produce, with the house and immediate grounds given over to organic fruit and veg.  There’s loads to see – and it’s right on the banks of the Usk, with it’s own church, granary, stables, twin walled gardens, etc etc.  Plus a Green Man Maze.  If you want to spend time there one wing of the house is available to rent (it sleeps a mere 17…)

September 23, 2007

UK Mistletoe Conservation Update – Sept 07

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 6:22 pm

I’m getting a lot of media enquiries about mistletoe already, from monthlies and a few TV shows – mostly a mix of questions about mistletoe conservation and about the mistletoe trade and festival in Tenbury Wells.

So, for the curious, here are some pointers on conservation (more on Tenbury, trade and the festival later): 

  • The status of UK mistletoe – is it declining or not? – was investigated by the 1990s national mistletoe survey, organised by Plantlife and the Botanical Society of the British Isles.  But results were unclear – distribution seemed to have increased (though that might have been due to recording bias) and quantity was not physically measured.  Nevertheless it did seem clear that ‘harvestable’ mistletoe – ie mistletoe in orchards – might be in severe decline, and that mistletoe was generally rare outside of the SW Midlands.  For more background info visit the Mistletoe Pages or buy the survey report (£3 plus UK p&p from Plantlife – £5.00 inclusive I think – a pdf download may be available soon) . So what is happening now?…
  • This winter marks the 10th anniversary of completion of the survey and to mark the occasion some of the data are being re-assessed this autumn, with additional data gathering planned for January – with a little help from some volunteers (so far un-recruited but more on that soon). 

  • And there are renewed efforts to quantify the economic value mistletoe can bring to an apple orchard – too much can be a pest, but managed amounts can conserve the plant, maintain tradition and bring in an income.  Getting firm figures is difficult – but there’s a lot of interest from orchard conservation groups – who can see how mistletoe can add to the value of traditional orchards – and be used to help justify keeping them.

  • Orchard-related mistletoe conservation efforts were significantly boosted recently by the designation of Traditional Orchards as a Priority Habitat in the UK Biodiversity Plan (announced by the Government in August 2007 – details at the UK BAP site).  Quite what this will lead to is not yet clear – but a more strategic approach to orchard conservation is likely, with much more interest, and (maybe) more grant-aid…

  • And there are also various mistletoe conservation projects in local biodiversity plans across the country – but more on those another time…

Er, that’s all for now – info on Tenbury soon – but the Tenbury Mistletoe Festival and TEME websites will tell you a lot already…

Need info on UK mistletoe for 2007/8?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 5:48 pm

Looking for news on mistletoe for winter 2007/8?

Have a look at the blog on the Typepad site – (one day I’ll consolidate all these blogs into one site/thread – but I’m waiting for a few rainy days…)

September 21, 2007

Chocolate Mistletoe Kisses – the 2007 mistletoe season begins here…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 3:02 pm

Well, here we are again.  Mistletoe season is upon us once more. And please don’t give me that ‘September is far too early’  stuff – I know what I’m talking about.  I’ve just (30 mins ago) been down the Co-op and found a mid-aisle display of ‘Galaxy Mistletoe Kisses’ chocolates.  So it really is Mistletoe Season.  At least according to Mars Confectionery (and others – see below). 

MasterfoodsgalaxymistletoekissesMy immediate reaction (natch) was to put some in the trolley.  Despite the wrapper illustration (not easily seen on this pic) clearly being of plastic mistletoe – which regular mistletoe-blog readers will remember (I hope) that I really really hate.   Though I’m currently resisting sampling the chocs (Caroline, the beloved one, is away, and I thought it would make a suitable love-token for her return next week… ) I thought I should check out some reviews. 

Now, I’ve always thought my mistletoe pages and blogs are a bit odd – but this review of Galaxy Mistletoe Kisses, does (imho) make my mistletoe rantings seem relatively sane.  A whole site devoted to ‘sightings’ of obscure chocolate products around the world…  Makes me feel a lot better…

It’s a mixed review – despite the wrapper wording ‘ chocolate pieces with an indulgent mousse & caramel centre’ one comment says they’re just like Galaxy Caramels – but another wants them on sale all year round – reminding me of my old website slogan – Mistletoe is for Life, not just for Christmas.  Maybe I should start using it again?  Maybe not.

Meanwhile, back in the real, non-plastic, mistletoe world there’s lot going on already…  Plans for this year’s Tenbury Mistletoe Festival are well underway – with most happening on 1st December.  Check-out the website for more info – Tenbury Wells was very badly flooded earlier this summer – and the town is determined to bounce back in time for Christmas… 

‘TEME’ online mistletoe are chugging along nicely too – lots of enquiries already for this Christmas – some small customers, others rather larger.  Lots of weddings too – mistletoe is becoming a fashionable item for winter weddings – symbol of eternal love and all that (not to mention fertility…).  Not just weddings either – there was an enquiry about mistletoe for a funeral this week!  Apparently  the deceased had met their spouse under mistletoe – and mistletoe has remained a key association ever since. 

The TEME  website is due for it’s annual overhaul in the next few days – so do have a look at it soon.  Lots of new ideas appearing on there – including mistletoe packs for pubs and clubs, more on wedding packages, and some new mistletoe postcard collections.  Plus the Grow-Your-Own Kit of course…

But that’s enough advertising – what’s really going on in the UK mistletoe world??  Well, quite a lot really – conservation projects are continuing – take a look at the London mistletoe project for example info (sorry, the wiki is a bit out-of-date), the 1990s national survey info is being re-analysed this winter, and there’s considerable interest in assessing exactly what economic value the mistletoe harvest in old apple orchards adds to orchard value – more on all this soon…

Oh, and my www.mistletoe.org.uk website is due for a revamp in October… more soon…  And laready lots of media interest – again, more soon…

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: