In my blog series Wales : In their own words I am introducing readers to the people behind the businesses I have got to know and love in my travels around Wales. A huge thank you to Rag of The Preservation Society who kindly gave up her time, whilst homeschooling her children and organising a collective of food & drink producers in the Wye Valley, to answer a few questions.
Name Angharad Underwood, known as Rag
Business Name The Preservation Society
What does your business do? We make multi award winning jars of deliciousness in the heart of the Wye Valley.
What is your most popular product? Limey Lime Marmalade and Candied Jalapenos (mine too).
What is your personal favourite? That’s like choosing my favourite child, I obviously have one but it does change daily!
Where are you based? Chepstow
How long have you been in business? 8 years
What are your hours? Long, but rewarding. Great Taste Awards, Wales the True Taste Award, World Marmalade Awards and delicious.magazine winner, judged by Pru Leith.
What is the easiest/most fun part of your business? Meeting interesting, passionate people like Nellie that care about products and provenance and appreciate it.
What is the hardest part of your business? Accounts – who loves accounts??
Where do you live? Chepstow
How do you relax? I have kids, that never happens but I do love walking the dog, a glass of wine and this enforced lock down is really help to re-evaluate the work/life balance for all of us.
Is this the career you thought you would have? No, not at all but I love it xx
Where did you train/learn? I learnt to preserve from my grandmothers, I grew up in a farming family so competitive preserving was the norm.
Where did you grow up? Bedwas, near Caerphilly in a mining town. My Dad was the 4th generation butcher and farmer.
Where else have you lived? Cardiff, Bath, Bristol, Sydney, Melbourne, Belfast, Perth.
What is your favourite meal? Roast Lamb & mint and anything spicy – Thai food is probably the best
What is your favourite telly programme? Currently Orzak and I’m also loving Frankie & Grace – can you believe Jane Fonda is 82 years old!!!!
What are you reading at the moment? I love reading but have not picked up a book since lockdown – it’s all Netflix.
Are you a Welsh speaker? No
Would you ever leave Wales? Yes perhaps, but I do love it, there’s a passion here, a pride but not in a showy off kind of way.
What makes Wales so special? The people, the mountains, the history, the rugby.
Do you do online sales? Yes
Do you attend events? Yes (Rag was one of the first people I called to say Wales Week / Berkshire was happening and she joined 7 other small Welsh businesses at the Welsh Emporium Pop Up Shop at John Lewis in Reading).
Where is your happy place? Home
Where is your favourite hidden gem? West Wales
How have you adapted your business during this pandemic? Oh gosh, I’ve lost shops and restaurants but I have set up Wye Valley Producers, a collaboration of Wye Valley Mead, Parva Spices, The Preservation Society, Silver Circle Distillery, Cottage Sweets, Chilli Rogues, Kontext Cofffee, Humble by Nature, and we’re going to be doing a drive through “Click and Collect” to safely supply locals with delicious local artisan produce.
Could you recommend one of your favourite websites? Wye Valley Producers, which went live late April 2020
Anything else you would like to say? Thank you to you, you are a brilliant ambassador for producers a plenty and we can’t thank you enough xxxxx
Rag has also contributed to the Velindre Cookbook, she was overwhelmed by the support she received from Velindre when she went through breast cancer treatment and now is very proud to support the book so that they can all make a difference.
Thank you so much Rag, I can't wait to Cwtch you when restrictions are lifted.