Posted by: London UK | November 17, 2007

Day 38 - Sloes

sloe ginJonathan Curtoys is one of the new breed of wildlife-friendly farmers. He worked as an environmental lobbyist before joining former business partners Julia and Richard Brown on their farm.

The first plan was to set up a breakfast cereal business, but Curtoys wanted to encourage wildlife on the farm so the hedges were left to grow and given a two-metre margin of land to protect them. It was only then that Curtoys realised how many blackthorn hedges there were and had the idea of turning the sloes (ancestors of wild plums) into gin. “It almost happened by accident,” he says. “The breakfast cereal business didn’t do well and it’s ironic that the wild food did.”

By 2005, three years after starting Sloe Motion, there was a 40 per cent increase in breeding birds and the butterfly species count had risen to 21 - the highest in Yorkshire. “Not cutting the hedges has given us a crop for free as well as being massively beneficial for wildlife,” says Curtoys, who now also buys sloes from local farmers and is planting more hedges.

As well as its sloe gin £14.95, Sloe Motion makes sloe vodka £14.95 and whisky £14.95, and also produces chocolate truffles £8.95 and chutney £3.95. There are plans for a sloe coulis and a fruit cheese in the not too distant future.

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