For city types, the world of food and farming is an exotic place.
And nowhere more so than in the wild mountains of Wales.
Now a new company is hoping to open up the country’s food culture to “food tourists” from Britain and beyond.
Snowdonia Safari will work with local producers to give visitors insights into colourful food-producing traditions. The first safaris are scheduled for next spring and will include the Cheese Chase, the Tipple Trail and Vegetable Voyage. A fourth, involving Cynan Jones from The Mushroom Garden, near Beddgelert, is due to launch next autumn.
And the company is looking to set up tours in which visitors can have a go at lambing or watch cows being milked and cheese being made.
The venture has been set up by agri consultant Geraint Hughes, who runs Y Bwtri Delicatessen, and Dafydd Gruffydd, Menter Môn’s business manager.
Dafydd said: “In my job I often take overseas visitors on food tours around the region. There’s clearly a lot of interest and it occurred to us we could extend the idea to the public. “When people go on holiday they like to have a real experience – they like nothing better than returning home and telling friends how they brought a sheep off the mountain or milked a goat.
“You only have to look at the success of TV programmes like Autumn Watch and Lambing Live. “We’re in discussions with various parties over farmhouse stays in which people can get up at 4am and help with lambing, or follow the cheese-making process from field to parlour and factory.”
The safaris costs £69 each. They are presented as gifts, with local goodies in wooden boxes. The price includes lunch and the proceeds will be shared with host producers.
Similar ventures already exist in England – there’s even one in London. Snowdonia Safaris hope the tours will boost the link between food and tourism, so helping to keep visitor spending within the rural economy.
Too often tourists nip in and out of Wales, keeping their wallets closed, said Geraint.
“People want to know more about the food on their plates and food tourism is certainly a growth sector,” he said. “We hope to raise the profile of the region and its produce, so benefitting local farmers and producers.”
Mushroom grower Cynan Jones is hoping to orchestrate foraging trips as well as hosting visits to his growing rooms at Nantmor.
He has given Snowdonia Safaris his full support. “I often get requests from groups and individuals interested to learn more about growing mushrooms, and I know of many other producers in a similar situation.
“Hopefully this will bring benefits to the region’s many food businesses.”
Tickets from the Bwtri Delicatessen, Hooton’s Homegrown or by visiting www.snowdonia-safari.com.