On Birds, Bees and Wild Eve


It’s 4.23am and I’m up, I actually woke at 3.28am not out of a desire to catch the first light, but because a cuckoo had positioned itself on my croft and was singing in the dawn (very loudly).

Living on a remote island off the coast of Scotland has so many pleasures – the lack of pollution, the scarcity of street lights to interrupt the dancing pinks and greens of the aurora borealis, the incredible beaches and moorland, the plentiful wild plants and especially the birds that travel here on their migratory journeys.

Cuckoos arrive here to breed from central Africa following a migratory path up through Africa and across Europe eventually settling all over the UK. We have them arrive in Harris every year, and along with the Corncrakes they are my early morning wake up call. Cuckoo numbers have declined by 40% since 2011 due mainly to habitat pressure and drought so it’s very heartening to hear them year after year in Harris.

 As a crofter, creating habitats favourable for birds and insects to thrive is a priority and it’s especially good that our land management method also supports the plants we need for the making of Wild Eve and the seasonal Of Harris series. We have an ecologically symbiotic relationship.

All our growing is organic, we plant bee and other insect friendly flowers, shrubs and trees, by this I mean most of our plants are native to the UK and we don’t grow sterile hybrids so the flowers they produce are accessible to insects and full of pollen.

Amanda on her croft

There is a misconception that simply planting up flower beds feeds the bees and other pollinating insects but actually the flowers you choose need to be the right shape and fertile to be useful. Double flowers, whilst often really pretty, rarely have pollen producing anthers and so don’t offer food to insects, equally F1 hybrids that are often sold in garden centres are not fertile and so hopeless for pollinators. Plants so often removed from gardens are wonderful – daisies, dandelions and nettles all have a valuable role in promoting a healthy garden ecology and we have plenty of them all. We use some of the daisies in A.S Apothecary products (our sister skincare company) and dandelions and nettles in our drinks.

We plant for day and night pollinators - night scented stock offers the most heady fragrance from dusk. Often the plants that strongly scent the evening air, such as Jasmine and our own native Honeysuckle, are pollinated by moths which fly at night. I especially love to walk through the croft and greenhouse late in the evening to enjoy the alternative scent profile. It’s so different to the day.

 We also leave areas uncultivated where the native grasses can grow long enough to encourage ground nesting birds, we have left open some of our land drainage channels so there is always access to clean, fresh water. We compost our plant matter which is spread on the beds to keep our plants healthy and well nourished, we also mulch our beds with seaweed and scrap cardboard to minimise soil damage and degradation. Where we wild harvest, we take so little from any one spot that you wouldn’t know we had visited. We try to tread lightly.

 One of the most important aspects of Wild Eve is our real commitment to the environment, not some spurious greenwashing carbon offsetting nonsence adopted by many, but in the real way we manage our land every day so that we can protect and support this fragile island ecology for the benefit of future generations.

 Every part of what we do is carefully thought out and ethically driven, from our totally recyclable packaging, to the glass of our bottles, to the cap on production to 10,000 bottles a year, to the rejection of a massive growth strategy and therefore the decision not to offer Wild Eve to a big supermarket chain for nationwide distribution. We don’t have investors or shareholders so we can control every part of what we do without having to drive profit above everything else.

 This path is not easy. It’s hard to make a living in this current economic climate without the buffer of investment, but slowly we’re getting our drink into the hands of people who care as much as we do, up and down the UK. We’re now in over 55 Michelin starred restaurants and 5* hotels which is really exciting.

 In other important news, we are delighted to Welcome Eulalia to the Wild Eve family, she joins us from Manchester and is our mainland contact ready to offer tastings and on the ground support. If you’d like her to visit your restaurant, bar, hotel or shop, drop her a line to wildeve@gmail.com and we’ll sort it out. Equally, if you know of anywhere where you’d like to see Wild Eve stocked, do let us know and we’ll get in touch with them.

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