Menter Fachwen runs a group of small social enterprises in Gwynedd, providing employment opportunities to people with various learning and physical disabilities. Kate Toms, Chief Executive, has shared their festive story with us for the Winter 2013 Go Full Circle campaign….
Christmas is the busiest time of the year at Menter Fachwen. It all begins as soon as the blackberries are ripe enough to pick, we need to pick pounds and pounds to make jam for the Christmas hampers, and this season there was a bumper crop so that gave us a good start.
This year we have focused on the quality and presentation of our Christmas products; we wanted to get the look just right. The theme for 2013 was re-cycle, re-use and up-cycle whatever we could.
Christmas 2012 was a bit of a disaster, on November 22nd three of our businesses were flooded, this put a stop to a lot of the planned festivities, but we are not the kind of organisation to cry over spilt milk, or even six inches of mud as it was in our case.
We rescued whatever we could from the floods, which included the old pine floorboards that ran throughout the ground floor of our shop in Llanberis. The floor at Caxton House was damaged beyond repair and had to be ripped out. The joinery business, Craig y Wylan use recycled wood whenever they can, it’s usually 101 things you can make out of a pallet, but 2013 became the year of ‘using the old floorboards’. This year they have made beautiful bird and bug houses from wood that would have otherwise been destined for landfill.
Ty Gwydr, our horticulture business, has been collecting all sorts of strange objects including empty catering size tins from a local hotel, after a bit of imagination and decoration they look gorgeous filled with bulbs that were planted up in the autumn. We rescued some old tea cups from the skip at a disused community centre they are now home to small plants hanging from homemade macramé hangers, how’s that for a bit of retro up-cycling?
Everyone was included in the preparations; we grow a lot of our own fruit and vegetables. We have an allotment, a large poly-tunnel and small garden. We grow blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries and rhubarb, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and garlic.
It’s a real community effort, we have great contacts in the villages, every year we are invited to pick perfectly good fruit that would otherwise just fall from the trees. We were asked to pick apples, pears, plums and quinces from our neighbour’s gardens. These were turned into the jams, chutney and pickles that fill the hampers we sell at local Christmas Fairs.
It’s not all jams and chutneys; at Cafe Padarn in Fachwen they have been making luxury Christmas puddings. These sell well in the cafe and at the Christmas Fairs; Sally has made over 100 this year.
Caban y Cwm Cafe in Cwm y Glo will have made 1,200 mince pies by the time Christmas comes . . . . . . . . They won’t just be just any old mince pies though; they will be Menter Fachwen mince pies, filled to the top with mincemeat. Some will be topped with cranberries or marzipan, orange crumble, almonds, lemon icing or a mouth watering mix of the above.
On the 10th of December, at E.B’s cafe in Deiniolen, they will be hosting a Christmas dinner for 25 regular customers. I know they are looking forward to a slap up feast.
It’s all go at Christmas, and this is just a tiny snapshot of what’s going on at Menter Fachwen this year.Details of ‘what’s on’ at Menter Fachwen and how to join in the fun or buy any of our products can be found on our website www.menterfachwen.org.uk. You can also call us on 01286 872 014.