Inspired by the district in Hereford he comes from, the Right Worshipful, The Mayor of Hereford Cllr Paul Stevens today presented a new Holmer Perry Pear tree to Artistraw Cidery and Orchard in Clifford, near Hay on Wye, in a bid to safeguard the variety’s future.
The Mayor first learned that the Holmer Perry Pear was at risk of extinction when he accompanied the then Mayor of Hereford Cllr Kath Hey to the Museum of Cider in 2019. The variety was popularised by pioneering pomologist and Herefordshire farmer Thomas Andrew Knight in the 1820s. Cllr Stevens hails from Holmer himself, and so since then he has made it his one man mission to save the variety, which is said to make a pleasant single variety perry.
To save the variety Cllr Stevens first sourced scion wood, turning to the National Perry Pear collection in Hartpury and the services of Jim Chapman, resident perry pear curator and expert. Jim was able to provide sufficient cuttings to allow Nick Dunn at Frank P Matthews Ltd near Tenbury Wells to make 14 new Holmer perry pear trees. The well-known nursery was able to persuade 14 of the fifteen grafts to succeed, a fantastic success rate. October 2021 marked the first of many plantings across Hereford and Herefordshire. Perry makers’ orchards, in parks and public spaces, there is even one being planted in Holmer, near where the mother tree has recently been rediscovered.
During his tenure as Mayor Cllr Stevens has fought to raise the profile of apples and orchards in the city and county. He is proud that a new festival H’Applefest will be running a programme of events for a three weeks starting October 1st. “There will music and bands the first weekend, a banquet feast event the second weekend, and a 3rd weekend with winding down celebrations. Of course there are also tastings across the 3 weeks in the evenings, to get our great local ciders and perries in front of local people, visitors to our great City and enthusiasts alike.”
Cidermakers since 2003, Tom and Lydia started Artistraw Cidery and Orchard in 2017 to share a few of their creations with a wider audience. The couple have grafted and planted 85 of their own apple and pear trees in their small orchard in western Herefordshire, and only use fruit hand harvested from unsprayed traditional orchards. They proudly make natural cider only from apples. Nothing is added to the juice as it ferments, leaving a rich and perfumed cider with a natural sparkle. Open by appointment, the couple are proud of what they call ‘Herefordshire’s smallest shop’, where customers have access to the full range of natural ciders and perries.
“We are delighted that Cllr Stevens wants to entrust us to bring his precious pear tree safely into the future for many to enjoy in years to come, whether it’s the beauty of the blossom, the sanity of its shade, or the nectar from its fruits. Pears can last hundreds of years, as the saying goes, pears for your heirs.”
“It’s an honour to have our little orchard recognized for its attempt to preserve rarer varieties of fruit for that noble art of cider and perry making. We have slowly collected around 80 rare, local, and tasty apple varieties into our collection, which we look forward to using in our ciders as the orchard matures. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the cidery where they can enjoy tours and tastings, and of course visit the Holmer perry pear tree and see it with their own eyes.”Tom Tibbits.
Find out more about Artistraw Cider.
Picture: courtesy of Billie Charity ©