What do you do when Pick Your Own fruit stops working?

This is a question that my sister and I had been asking ourselves for a couple of years after taking over the running of our family fruit farm in 2014. My parents had set it up in the late 80s after moving to fulfil their dream of living in the country. It went well through the 90s and the 00s and people came from miles around for the strawberries, raspberries, cherries and more, but particularly the strawberries. Dad is still even known by some people as “Dr Strawberry”!

Pick Your Own had already started dwindling towards the end of the 00s. Other local Pick Your Own farms were long gone – I believe due to a combination of people’s busy lives and the year round availability of cheap “summer” fruit in the supermarkets. Over the summer, someone had to be around all of the time to mind the shop as Mum had done for the past two decades, only now, some days only one or two people would come.

When he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the end of 2013, Dad took the secret of growing nice strawberries to the grave. The year after he was gone, even we would have preferred to eat supermarket strawberries! With 5,000 plants to replant every year and 20,000 to look after in total, this would turn into a time costly and financial disaster.

We moved back home to look after Mum and, however sad the circumstances we knew we were so lucky to have such a wonderful place to live. It would have been heart breaking to let Mum and Dad’s hard work just vanish, so we had to think “What do you do when Pick Your Own Fruit stops working?” The best answer we thought of was to stick it all in gin and vodka!

I used to make fruit liqueurs for my friends at Christmas. It always went down very well. Dad even told me once that the Tayberry vodka I made one year was the nicest drink he’d ever tasted. I’m not sure he imagined on me starting a business partly based on that comment! So Shlizzy was born and the pretty gift bottles, packs of miniatures and personalised wedding favours have been a massive hit. I am currently rebranding, and once that is done, will be selling in various shops and delis.

I joined the Clwydian Range Food and Drink group to make contacts with other small food businesses and am so impressed with them and The Good Grub Club embarking on this fabulous mission of coordinating foodie events across North East Wales amongst the other work they do.

Being part of the Taste North Wales events, working with The Little Cheesemonger from Rhuddlan, local breweries and other producers for my Cocktails and Cheese on the Farm event, has partly inspired me to embark on another project. I am looking to collaborate with other local businesses in a mobile bar project to be called “Shlizzy and Friends”.  I already have interest from producers who I have met due to these fantastic food groups…..So watch this space!

Join Shlizzy on her farm

Shlizzy cocktail making and cheese on the farm – 28th September

Make your own cocktails using Shlizzy liqueurs and buffet/nibbles provided by The Little Cheesemonger all included in the price. We will also have a bar selling local beers & Shlizzy liqueurs. Enjoy the atmosphere of our barn lite up with fairy lights and the environment on the farm.

Book your tickets here.