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Food and drink winners announced at County Show

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FOUR local businesses which champion the use of Pembrokeshire produce have been officially recognised for the outstanding quality of their food and drink in the annual Pembrokeshire Produce Mark Awards.

Hand-picked scallops, locally-produced sea salt, home-made sauces and restaurants that make best use of local produce made up the winners that were presented with awards at a ceremony in the Food Hall at the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Show, Withybush, Haverfordwest, this morning (Aug 16).

The awards were announced by the Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council, Councillor Paul Harries.

The Pembrokeshire Produce Mark scheme recognises county businesses which excel in providing or sourcing local food and drink.  Members display a unique logo which helps customers to identify that the product is local.

The scheme has more than 300 members, which are verified to ensure that the product they sell or use is made in Pembrokeshire.

There were two winners In the Best New Product category: the Pembrokeshire Sea Salt Company – with their homemade sea salt and salted caramel sauce – and Pembrokeshire Scallops.

The concept of producing salt first came to Sherrill Evans, when she was making sea salt body scrubs.

Given that she was living so close to the sea, she thought it might be worth giving salt production a go at home.

Armed with buckets, bottles and funnels, seawater collection and salt production experimentation began, returning some promising results.

The salt being produced was not only good enough to replace the shop-bought sea salt she was using for the scrubs, but the high quality taste and texture meant it was good enough to eat.

“We’ve come a long way since we were collecting seawater with buckets,” said business partner Josh Wright.

“In the year we’ve been operating, our range has been extended and now includes plain salt, five flavoured salts plus the salted caramel sauce, which has been a firm favourite with the public.”

Based just outside Newport, Pembrokeshire Sea Salt Company’s products, including salted caramel sauce, can be found in selected delicatessens, food festivals and local producers’ markets.

A desire to earn a living from the sea is what prompted local divers Neil Walters and Ceri Jones to start Pembrokeshire Scallops and the quality of their hand-dived scallops has quickly come to the attention of food lovers from all over the county.

A company with concerns for the environment at the forefront of their philosophy, they harvest the scallops by hand, leaving no damage to the sea-bed

Carefully choosing which scallops to collect and which to leave for re-breeding also allows the beds to re-populate.

“Pembrokeshire Scallops is dedicated to the scallop population,” said Neil who started the business two years ago with business partner Ceri.

They regularly have a stall at Haverfordwest Farmers Market.

“We formed because we love to dive and we love to dive in Pembrokeshire’s waters,” he added.

“Because we know the sea bed so well, we started diving specifically for scallops and other shellfish from the cold, clean waters off our coast.

“It means we’re able to choose the best scallops and shellfish for our customers.

“We focus on two things at Pembrokeshire Scallops: a desire to provide our customers with the best tasting shellfish and to ensure their homes on the sea-beds off our coast are well preserved and maintained for future generations to come.”

There were also two winners in the category for Best Use of Local Produce in a Hospitality Outlet and both came from St Davids.

They were St Davids Kitchen and the Blas Restaurant at the Twr y Felin Hotel.

Located in the heart of Britain’s smallest city, St Davids Kitchen truly is a local business.

From the five full time chefs to the pedigree Welsh black cattle they breed, everything served at the establishment comes from St Davids and the surrounding area.

“We pride ourselves on that,” said owner Neil Walsh, who along with his wife Ruth opened the restaurant less than a year ago after moving back to the area

“Our family can be traced back over 215 years to the city and we’re incredibly proud to live and work in St Davids and we base our restaurant on three key principles.

“We produce for our own restaurant, we trade fairly, openly and ethically with local producers and we provide well paid, full-time jobs with career progression.”

The produce they serve is so local they can even tell what field it came from be it the Welsh Black cattle they rear or the vegetables and pork they source from the nearby Farms for City Children.

They also have an agreement with the RSPB allowing them to source venison and ram lambs from Ramsey Island and they work with the National Trust on conservation grazing for their Welsh Black cattle on local heathlands.

Fish is procured from Solva and if what they want to use can’t be grown locally, they ensure it is bought from a local wholesaler.

“We support local farmers, producers and fishermen by buying the best from the best and delivering that to the plates of our customers,” added Neil.

As one of Pembrokeshire’s leading fine dining experiences, the Blas Restaurant at the Twr y Felin Hotel has come a long way since it opened 18 months ago. It has now cemented itself on the county’s gastronomic map with two Rosettes and a local food, drink and hospitality award.

Meaning ‘taste’ in Welsh, Blas attracts customers from all over the world who are drawn in by head chef Simon Coe’s culinary creations that are often described as ‘art on a plate.’

It offers a true taste of Wales and a menu that is influenced by the season and locality.

The use of local ingredients is central to that.

Local farms, butchers, wholesalers and fish mongers provide the bulk of their produce.

They’ll even go out and forage for it themselves.

Wild garlic leaves and blackberries picked from local lanes and bushes often find their way into Coe’s dishes.

“Our aim is to provide a warm, Welsh welcome for all of our customers and using local ingredients helps us achieve that,” says Paula Ellis, Group General Manager of Twr y Felin Hotel, Roch Castle and Penrhiw Hotel.

“Wherever possible we will use local produce. We source fish from Milford Haven and shellfish from Solva.

“The cows that produce the milk for Caerfai Cheese come from a field that’s seven minutes walk away and the vegetables and salad come from Pen Pant Farm at Nine Wells near Solva.

“We want our customers to have a taste of our language, our culture and heritage and they get that from the time they spend here and the food we create from local ingredients.”

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Charity

Puffin Party fundraising initiative returns for another year

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THE Pembrokeshire Coast Charitable Trust is inviting people to host a Puffin Party this July, to celebrate the Trust’s 6th birthday and raise vital funds.

The Trust has raised more than £380,000 from a range of sources since 2018, including projects such as People, Paths & PollinatorsMake More Meadows and Wild About Woodlands.

It has also provided Force for Nature Grants to help community groups and local organisations boost biodiversity, act on climate change or educate others on these important topics.

Puffin Parties were added to the list of fundraising activities last summer, and proved so popular that they are being brought back for another year.

Director of the Pembrokeshire Coast Charitable Trust, Katie Macro, said: “We are delighted to see the return of the Puffin Parties. These events not only help us raise essential funds but also bring the community together in celebration of our beautiful natural environment.

“Once again, there’s plenty of inspiration on hand to get you started, including some party food recipe cards (with healthier options available), invitation templates and some ideas for party activities.

“We encourage everyone to get involved and help us celebrate by arranging a tea party, coffee morning or cake sale with friends, family, colleagues, or the local community during the month of July. As well as having fun, you’ll be making a difference in protecting our stunning coastline and safeguarding it for future generations.”

The celebratory resources, including invitation templates, new recipe cards, and craft activity templates and instructions are available for download at https://pembrokeshirecoasttrust.wales/how-you-can-help/puffinparty.

To find out more, register your interest and access the special celebratory visit www.pembrokeshirecoasttrust.wales.

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Business

RWE launches pre-application consultation for RWE Pembroke Battery

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TO support their decarbonisation ambitions as part of Pembroke Net Zero Centre, RWE is progressing proposals to develop a battery energy storage system on its land adjacent to Pembroke Power Station. 

Battery energy storage plays a crucial role in the integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, into the power grid, excess renewable energy can be stored and fed into the grid when needed. Electricity is consumed in real time and this technology will, where possible, enable homes and businesses to be powered by renewable energy.  

The consultation on RWE’s plans launches Monday 17 June 2024 and will end on Monday 15 July 2024. RWE is asking the community for their views on these plans and has launched a consultation where local people can provide feedback on the planning application. 

The proposed development would be located on a 5.1 hectare area to the south of the current power station and would comprise 212 Battery Containers, 106 Power Conversion Systems (PCS) enabling connectivity to the grid, and associated infrastructure. 

The battery would have a maximum charge / discharge power of 350 megawatts and would connect via underground cables to the grid at the adjacent National Grid 400 kV substation. Once fully operational, Pembroke Battery would be capable of storing enough electricity to meet the average daily domestic energy needs of more than 72,0001 typical UK homes. 

In line with RWE’s commitment to protect and enhance local environments, the company has pledged to deliver various biodiversity measures as part of the proposals. Field margins will be enhanced by species-rich meadow planting, native woodland and scrub planting, while a new large pond will be provided and managed to support local wildlife. The periphery of the development site will also be further enhanced with bat and bird boxes, insect hotels and reptile hibernation shelters around the field edges. A Habitat Management Plan will ensure the habitats created are managed sensitively in support of local wildlife for the lifetime of the project.

Commenting on the proposals, Richard Little, Pembroke Net Zero Centre Director, said: “RWE Pembroke Battery represents the next step in our plans to invest in new innovative energy technologies, as part of our vision for Pembroke Net Zero Centre. We would like to thank those who engaged with us in our Green Hydrogen consultation and encourage the community to get involved with the consultation process, learn more about our battery energy storage proposals, and have their say on the proposals.” 

Members of the community can contact the project team and leave feedback via the project website rwe.pembrokenetzerocentre.co.uk/battery, telephone 01646 370090, email [email protected] or by writing to ’Freepost PNZC Consultation’.  

Local people can also join RWE at an in-person event at South Pembrokeshire Golf Club on 24th June 2024 between 2pm and 7pm to speak with project team members, ask questions and provide feedback. 

Pembroke Net Zero Centre has a critical role to play in Wales’ and the UK’s pathway to Net Zero. By decarbonising its current operations at Pembroke Power Station, while investing in new innovative technologies, such as battery energy storage and hydrogen generation, RWE can establish Pembroke at the forefront of South Wales’ low carbon future.

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Charity

Megan’s Starr foundation launches Bottle Top Collection Appeal

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THE Megan’s Starr Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting young people’s mental health and combating bullying, has recently launched an innovative recycling initiative and is calling on the community for help. The Milford Haven-based foundation is asking for donations of old bottle tops, both metal and plastic, to be dropped off at the Megan’s Starr Community Coffee House in Milford Haven.

This appeal is part of the foundation’s ongoing efforts to support mental health and community engagement through creative and sustainable projects. Bottle tops collected will be used in various community art projects and workshops, aimed at fostering a sense of togetherness and promoting mental wellbeing.

The Megan’s Starr Foundation was established in memory of Megan Evans, a vibrant 14-year-old who tragically took her own life after enduring severe bullying. Her mother, Nicola Harteveld, founded the charity to prevent other families from experiencing similar heartbreak and to provide much-needed mental health support to young people in Pembrokeshire.

In addition to their recycling efforts, the foundation offers a wide range of services including counselling, educational workshops, and support groups. They also run the Speakeasy Coffee Van, a mobile unit that brings support directly to young people in rural areas, offering barista training and mental health resources.

To contribute to the bottle top collection, community members can drop off their donations at the coffee house or arrange for a volunteer to collect them. The foundation expressed their gratitude for the community’s continued support, emphasising that even small acts of kindness can have a significant impact.

For more information on how to get involved or to learn about the foundation’s other initiatives, visit their website at Megan’s Starr Foundation.

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