Unctuous golden extra virgin oil, cold pressed in the hills of North Wales

Extra virgin oil, cold-pressed high in the hills of North Wales will soon be appearing on shelves in supermarkets in Cheshire.

A small farmers’ co-operative from which already produces a high quality rapeseed oil for the Welsh market is now branching out into Cheshire and Cumbria.

Blodyn Aur – Golden Flower in English – is the brand name of the unctuous golden liquid that is perfect for salad dressings and which is on the shelves of Asda stores in Wales and soon bottles
of ‘Cheshire Field’ will be appearing in Cheshire branches of the supermarket giant.

It will be made from oilseed rape grown in Cheshire but pressed at Derwydd, a farm near them village of Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr, between Ruthin and Cerrigydrudion.

The success of Blodyn Aur will be showcased to farmers from across North East Wales at two special workshops organised by rural regeneration agency Cadwyn Clwyd this month as part of their Agri-Food Project for rural Denbighshire and Flintshire financed from the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government.

They will be held at Llysfasi on Tuesday, February 14, at 7pm at Llysfasi College, near Ruthin, and at the same time, the following day, Wednesday, February 15, at Northop College.

Farmer Llyr Jones, of Derwydd, who founded Blodyn Aur with colleagues Medwyn Roberts, from Llanfihangel, and Bryn Jones, from Cerrigydrudion, in April 2010, will be passing on the secrets of their success at the workshops which will be led by Geraint Hughes, of business support company Annog.

He said: “We want to spark some ideas and interest in new crops and diversification because Cadwyn Clwyd can provide valuable support for rural businesses.

“It’s all about encouraging farmers to come up with something that’s fresh and different but also has commercial value and North East Wales is well placed with the best land in Wales and a huge
population right on its doorstep.”

Cadwyn Clwyd Agri-Food Project Officer Robert Price said: “These meetings are a real opportunity for farmers to find out how diversification can help them and the success of Blodyn Aur is a prime example.

“They have shown what can be done if you have the imagination and skill to develop a top quality product and the courage and determination to market it.

“There’s a lot to be learned from the way they have gone about setting up the business and expanding it and these are lessons that can be applied by other producers in what is the most fertile farming land in Wales.

“The meetings are targeted at farmers and we will be there to discuss alternative crops and how they can develop them in the way that Llyr has done.”

Llyr started the venture with farming colleagues– and now as well as in Asda, Blodyn Aur is available at specialist food shops and even at the Millennium Stadium.

They buy in the crop which is harvested at farms in the Vale of Clwyd, in Flintshire and along the North Wales coast and cold press it at Derwydd before it is taken to be bottled and labelled in

Llyr said: “We originally had the idea of using rapeseed for biofuel but that market didn’t happen so we really rather stumbled into this.

“But we had the machinery and the rapeseed and so we didn’t have to spend a lot more to make it food grade so we changed a few things and went on courses to learn more about it.

“It is a really good product because it is tasty, it has a hazelnut taste, and it’s even better for you than olive oil – and you can get it from here in North Wales rather than Tuscany.

“It’s lower in saturated fats than olive oil and it’s higher in Omega Three and in Vitamin E.

“We’ve been lucky enough to get it into Asda in Wales and we’re in talks with Tesco and Sainsbury and we’ve been well supported by a number of farm and specialist shops.

“It started off as just another string to our bow but it’s the bow now. The turnover the first year was just over £30,000 and we’re expecting to double that this year.”

Their enterprise also has top class ‘green’ credentials with the electricity supply at Derwydd, which drives the machinery that cleans the seeds as well as the press, provided by the farm’s own hydro-power system.

The seed husks are made into feed pellets for livestock – Llyr keeps 1,000 breeding ewes on the farm – and there are benefits to the farms that they buy their rapeseed from.

Llyr explained: “If you grow corn then it takes nutrients out of the ground but rapeseed is a brassica, part of the cabbage family, which replenishes the soil so if you plant the field with corn
the following year you’ll get a higher yield.

“Farmers use it as a rotation crop and you still get money for giving the land a rest and you use the same machinery to plough, seed and harvest it as you do for corn.

It’s pretty as well, it’s nice to see the splashes of yellow colour in the landscape in  the summer.

“You harvest it in August and then dry it out before cleaning it and then putting it through the special press which is German-made and then it is filtered three times and that’s what gives the

“I think ours is better than our competitors because most rapeseed oil in heated before it is pressed which gives you more volume but not the quality of a cold press and they don’t triple filter because they’re producing a bulk product.”

“This is a specialist food and it has a lovely, nutty flavour and it’s perfect for salad dressings – you can use it just as you would an extra virgin olive oil. I’m lucky, I just go and fill a jug from the barn when I want some.”

To sign up for the workshops at Llysfasi and Northop Colleges, contact Robert Price at Cadwyn Clwyd on 01824 705802 or e-mail robert.price@cadwynclwyd.co.uk

Cadwyn Clwyd continues to look for innovative projects to support which help safeguard the area’s natural, cultural and heritage assets and maximise their economic potential for local businesses and communities.

To find out more or share your idea for a project call 01824 705802 or email admin@cadwynclwyd.co.uk

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