Members of Gwynedd Economic Partnership and its Rural Development Sub Group recently visited local producer groups within the county that have been developed through the support of Gwynedd’s Rural Development Plan (2007-2013).
These groups have received support through the Local Produce scheme in order to develop quality products and supply chains to reach new markets.
Bragdy Lleu, a cooperative brewery in Dyffryn Nantlle was the first port of call on the visit. The brewery is run by nine local people and the company launched its first brew from the base at Penygroes’ Industrial Estate in May 2014. The group used their Local Produce funding to purchase the specialist brewing equipment, allowing them to brew five barrels at a time.
With demand growing the group is now brewing once a week in order to supply ten pubs – eight in Gwynedd and two in Conwy. They have recently begun to bottle the ale, producing 600 bottles in the run-up to Christmas and the gift packs went down a storm at local fairs. Following such high demand for the Lleu bottled beer, the group is now gearing up to bottle more – keep an eye out for them!
Bragdy Lleu’s, Robat Jones said: “We have built a network of pubs in Caernarfon, Llanystumdwy, Porthdinllaen, Morfa Nefyn, Llan Ffestiniog, Porthmadog, Tremadog, Llandwrog, Llandudno and Colwyn Bay who are selling our cask ales – this will allow us to sell the produce across Wales and possibly further.”
Bragdy Lleu’s first ale is named Lleu after the prominent figure from the fourth branch of the Mabinogi, as Dyffryn Nantlle is known across the globe as the setting for some of ancient Welsh tales of the Mabinogion.
Robat added: “As well as producing a range of high-quality beer, all of which will be named after characters from the Mabinogion, we have a long term aim of creating sustainable jobs in the area.”
Beics Stinog – Antur Stinog’s new Electric Bike hire scheme was the next stop. Through support from the Rural Development Plan the social enterprise has bought seven 250w electric bikes that will be used to promote outdoor activities and as a mode of transport around the area.
Helen McAteer from Antur Stiniog said: “Blaenau is a very rural town surrounded by mountains where public transport is minimal. Getting around is difficult so this project offers a great opportunity for locals and visitors to get around.
“There are several businesses on the outskirts of town and the electric bikes make it easier for people to reach them and hopefully give them an economic boost. It will also improve the visitor experience and increase the chance of a return visit.”
With the official launch of the bikes to be held at the beginning of March 2015, they are currently for hire from ‘Y Siop’ – Antur Stiniog’s hub in the centre of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Y Siop is a commercial enterprise which houses an information centre and a shop selling outdoor clothing, climbing equipment, bike equipment, bike hire and a variety of outdoor activity packages to suit locals and tourists.
The shop is open Monday to Saturday 9am-5pm, where the bikes can be hired on an hourly basis, or by the day.
The final stop was lunch at Blas, Caernarfon, the restaurant which won Local Product Eatery of the Year in the annual Taste and Talent awards 2014 which recognises and celebrates the contribution of the county’s food and drink producers, craftspeople and artists to the local economy.
Gwynedd Watkin the Local Action Group chairman said: “It was a pleasure to see these groups and enterprises strive with the boost the funding gave to their ventures, and to see the great local produce and products that are on offer in the county. We wish them every success for the future as they continue to grow from strength to strength.”