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Pembrokeshire preserve producer goes from hedgerow to HQ

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WHAT began as a way of using blackberries picked on countryside walks has become a thriving business for Pembrokeshire preserve producer Anne-Marie Harries, who has just opened a new base for her burgeoning business.

She first began selling her jams at her parents’ pub – The Farmers Arms – in Mathry. Now with not one but three Great Taste Award winning preserves to its name, Farmers Food at Home’s jams, chutneys, and marmalades sell like hot cakes in retailers across the county and beyond.

There are now more than 25 different varieties of preserves, among Crab-apple, Rosehip, Rhubarb & Ginger, Seville Orange Marmalade, Courgette & Tomato chutney, and the Great Taste Award one star-winning Chilli jam. There are also tempting seasonal varieties such as Gooseberry & Elderflower, Strawberry & Pimm’s, and Black Currant & Gin.

Explains Anne-Marie, “When out walking with my dog Bobby I’d pick berries, but I didn’t know what to do with them, so I started making bramble jelly and selling it at the pub – and it took off from there.”

The Farmers Food at Home range is regularly available at craft and produce fairs and food festivals. They can be found in holiday cottages and B&Bs too and was recently served to cyclists in the Tour of Pembrokeshire race.

Now, in addition to foraging for berries in the hedgerows, Anne-Marie grows a range of fruit and vegetables at her home in Llanreithan near Haverfordwest.

She believes she gets her green-fingers from her late father, Bryan Farmer, who before becoming a publican had been a farmer, growing cabbages and cauliflowers. While her preserving skills, she also puts down to her ‘genes’.

Anne-Marie Harries in Farmers Food at Home’s new production unit – aka ‘The Jam Shed’.

“I’d never made any jams before, I cooked meals at the pub, but I was more a savoury person. However, my grandmother was very much into making preserves, and I remember the jars in her pantry – so I guess I must get it from her!”

Her new preserve HQ – aptly named ‘The Jam Shed’ – is conveniently situated in the middle of an acre of land where Anne-Marie – keen to produce as many ingredients as possible grows her fruit and vegetables.

The Jam Shed is surrounded by fruit trees, soft fruits, berries, and also a polytunnel which is home to a variety of produce including tomatoes and chillies while Anne-Marie forages locally for the likes of rosehips and crab-apples.

The move from her home kitchen to a purpose-built 9m x 6m unit has revolutionised production for Anne-Marie and her part-time assistant.

She says, “I’d outgrown the kitchen, we still make everything in small batches, but we can now use equipment I was not able to use at home. Hopefully, we’ll be able to become Salsa registered, and then we can supply wholesalers and bigger outlets.”

Practical food production advice came from the Food Centre at Horeb, and
Anne-Marie’s business has been helped to grow by Cywain – a Menter a Busnes delivered project that supports the development of growth orientated businesses in the food and drink sector in Wales.

She says, “Cywain have been great, they have been there with everything from test trading and courses to one-to-one support and help with my website.”

Said Lowri Davies of Cywain, “It is great to see Anne-Marie taking her business to the next level with the opening of her new unit. Farmers Food at Home is an award-winning brand and it now has the facilities that will enable it to grow even further.”

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No action at Cardiff Airport over virus

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THERE were no checks or screening at Cardiff airport this morning (Jan 23) as international concern continues to grow about the coronavirus which has killed 17 people and infected hundreds in a central Chinese city.

A Herald journalist landing at 5:30am on a flight from Doha, said that passengers arriving from China or other Southeast Asian were not questioned or screened, despite other airports including Heathrow taking action.

The twice daily Doha flight, which was launched with the help of the Welsh Government two years ago, connects travellers from many destinations from South East Asia, including from China. A connection between Beijing and Cardiff is offered with a 10 hour stop over at Hamad International Airport in Qatar.

The outbreak of the virus is centred on the city of Wuhan. Travellers from Wuhan change at Beijing. At this time of year there is an increased number of travellers between China and the UK due to the Chinese New Year celebrations’

The Guardian reported today (Jan 23) that a sense of panic has spread in the central Chinese city of Wuhan as the city of 11 million was put on lockdown in an attempt to quarantine a deadly virus believed to have originated there.

Today, Chinese authorities banned all transport links from the sprawling city, suspending buses, the subway system, ferries and shutting the airport and train stations to outgoing passengers.

Nearby Huanggang also suspended its public bus and railway system by the end of the day.

In Wuhan, it has been reported that supermarket shelves were empty and local markets sold out of produce as residents hoarded supplies and isolated themselves at home. Petrol stations were overwhelmed as drivers stocked up on fuel, exacerbated by rumours that reserves had run out. Local residents said pharmacies had sold out of face masks.

The incubation period for the virus is said to be five days according to experts.

The Welsh Government has been asked for a comment.

Spencer Birns, Chief Commercial Officer at Cardiff Airport, told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Cardiff Airport is closely following guidance provided by the relevant authorities in relation to screening procedures for Coronavirus. Port Health advice as of 1200 on 23rd January 2020 is to operate business as usual, with no additional screening. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will update our customers as required.

“The safety and security of our team and customers is our number one priority.”

A spokesperson told The Herald that Chinese nationals arriving in Cardiff on international flights are not being asked if they originated in Wuhan despite the crisis.

“We have not been told to do different to normal,” the spokesperson said.

Pictured above: Regular flights: Qatar Airways plane at Cardiff Airport this morning • Peter Sinclair from Milford Haven lives in China and taking precautions

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Last chance to have your say on National Park’s new Local Development Plan

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority is seeking your views, having made amendments to its forthcoming Local Development Plan following the recent Examination Hearing Sessions.

These amendments are called Matters Arising Changes and any comments received will be passed on to the Inspector for consideration.

The relevant documents and representation form are available on the National Park Authority’s website: www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/haveyoursay and in paper format at Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre, St Davids and the Authority’s main office in Pembroke Dock.

Copies of the documents are also available for inspection free of charge on publicly accessible computers at local libraries during their normal opening hours.

Representations should be sent by 4.30pm on Friday 13 March 2020, either by email to devplans@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk or in writing to:

Park Direction
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
Llanion Park
Pembroke Dock
SA72 6DY.

For further information or assistance, email devplans@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk or call 01646 624800 and ask to speak to someone in the Park Direction Team dealing with the Plan.

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No opt-out for learning about religion, relationships and sexuality

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PARENTS will not be able to prevent their children from learning about religion, relationships and sexuality in the new curriculum.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams made the announcement this week, emphasising the need for ‘careful and sensitive implementation’ of the decision.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams told The Herald: “Our responsibility as a government is to ensure that young people, through public education, have access to learning that supports them to discuss and understand their rights and the rights of others.

“It is essential that all young people are provided with access to information that keeps them safe from harm.

“Today’s decision ensures that all pupils will learn about issues such as online safety and healthy relationships.

The announcement was made following an eight-week Welsh Government consultation on ensuring access to the full curriculum, including the teaching of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Religious Education (RE).

Kirsty Williams added: “I recognise this is a sensitive matter and the consultation responses reflected a wide range of views.

“There is clearly a need for us to work with communities and all interested parties in developing the learning and teaching for RSE and RE – this work will be vital to enable everyone to have trust in how the change is implemented.”

The Minister outlined plans for implementation which include the creation of clear guidance, resources and professional learning for schools and the creation of a Faith/BAME Community Involvement Group to hold its first meeting this February.

The group will engage in the development of RSE guidance, develop a shared understanding of the new curriculum and address the concerns raised by faith and community groups during the consultation.

The Minister continued: “It is vital that we continue to work with communities across Wales to ensure parents have the right to develop, care for and guide their children into adulthood while allowing our schools to provide a broad and balanced education.  

We will build on the community engagement which accompanied the consultation with a long term investment in listening to our communities and finding ways to address the issues which concern them.

The Minister also confirmed plans to establish a new RSE Working Group that will oversee the refinement of the new RSE statutory guidance to form part of the new curriculum guidance.

The Minister added: “I want to take the opportunity in 2021 to test the approach for RSE prior to it being made statutory in the new curriculum.  

This will provide valuable intelligence to inform the refinement of our approach and will also enable learners, parents and carers and communities to see it working in practice and to feedback their views.”

Further details on this approach will be announced over the coming weeks.  The consultation also showed support for renaming the subject ‘Religious Education’.

The most popular choice from respondents was ‘Religion, Values and Ethics’ and, as a result, the Minister confirmed the subject name would change when the new curriculum comes into effect. The Terrence Higgins Trust said that the news was something they very much welcomed, and said that they have been campaigning for this for a number of years. The Trust said that Wales has very much lead the way on this one as the UK Government has resisted calls to remove the parental opt-out for lessons when RSE lessons become compulsory in England from September. Debbie Laycock, Head of Policy at the trust said: “By guaranteeing access to Relationships & Sexuality Education lessons for all pupils, Wales is leading the way. We’ve campaigned for compulsory RSE lessons for nearly four decades and until now far too many young people have learned about sex through whispers in the playground. 
“This decision by the Welsh Government will go some way to fixing this. It’s absolutely vital lessons are LGBT+ inclusive and have a strong focus on HIV and sexual health so all young people have the knowledge they need to form healthy and fulfilling relationships. We are now looking to the Welsh Government to continue leading the way by providing all schools with the resources and training they need to deliver these new lessons to the highest standard across the board.” 

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