ONE of Ireland’s leading craft cider producers has been announced by the National Trust as a winner of the 2017 Fine Farm Food Awards presented at BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace.
Mac Ivors Cider Co, which produces its Traditional Dry Cider, Medium Cider and Plum and Ginger Cider at its orchards opposite Ardress House in County Armagh, was named as a 2017 produce winner.
The awards, which are now in their 12th year, celebrate the very best produce from the Trust’s 1,500 tenant farmers and estates. Producers participating look after more than 500,000 acres of grazed pasture, orchards and arable farmland across the UK.
Greg MacNeice, a fifth generation apple grower, said his family planted their first apple orchard at Ardress in 1855, and, since then, have been nurturing and developing over 100 acres of orchards.
Speaking about winning the prestigious Fine Farm Food Award for the second time, Greg said: “We have been growing apples here at Ardress since 1855 but we have only been producing cider from here since 2011. As my father said we are caretakers of the land and we’re here to leave it in a better state than we found it and then pass it on to the next generation.
“We try and do that in everything that we do. For example we bring hives of bumblebees into the orchards and allow them to nest here.
“I set out to make a cider which was as close to a freshly pressed apple as it could possibly be. That was the scent and the smell of my childhood in the orchards. I wanted people to get that in a bottle if that was possible.
“The National Trust Fine Farm Food Awards allow people to get to know the tenant farmers and celebrate everything which the countryside offers and prove that sustainable food isn’t just better for nature but that it tastes better too.
“Everyone here is delighted to be recognised by the National Trust for the work we do and we are proud that our Traditional Dry Cider and Medium Cider have been awarded.
“Mac Ivors Cider is now on sale in many of the beautiful National Trust cafes in both Northern Ireland and Britain.”
Rob Macklin, Head of Food and Farming for the National Trust, said: “The standard of produce this year has been higher than ever before. It has been a pleasure for the judges to see producers, associated with National Trust land and coast, rising to the challenge of producing fine farm food. We were amazed at the standards of the nominations which show the highest standards of farming can deliver excellent produce and work hand in hand with nature. These awards recognise the very best producers from National Trust estates.”
Mac Ivors Cider Co’s ciders, and all products nominated, were not only assessed for taste but also against a range of environmental standards to guarantee the quality and origin of products alongside high levels of production.
NOTES TO EDITORS
 The Fine Farm Produce Awards were first established in 2006
Northern Ireland Winner
Greg MacNeice, Mac Ivors Cider Co – Medium Cider, Traditional Dry Cider
For over 150 years the MacNeice family has been growing and nurturing apples in their orchards in County Armagh. With over 100 acres of wonderful apple trees this is no easy task. But cider maker Greg MacNeice learned from the best – his dad Sammy, who, like his father before him, has kept this family tradition alive. Greg is now the 5th generation apple grower. Mac Ivors Cider Co is based in the orchards at Ardress where Mac Ivors Traditional Dry, Medium and Plum and Ginger ciders are produced.
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