On a cool March morning, 30 members set off to visit the Oldroyd Rhubarb Sheds within the Wakefield Triangle, arriving in time for the start of a very detailed and informative talk given by Mrs. Oldroyd-Hume, who has been involved in the family business most of her life. It transpires that there were originally 200 growers in the region who raised rhubarb for the English and European markets, but as with so many products, the demand waned after the war when exotic fruits became available and rhubarb suffered a decline. As a result there are now only 12 growers in the region. However, rhubarb is again very much in demand and Oldroyd’s supply all the needs of three supermarket chains with forced rhubarb. As a result of her drive to achieve regional recognition, Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb has recently been awarded special status by the EC. Mrs. Oldroyd-Hume also gave us an insight into the properties of rhubarb for healing purposes together with some excellent tips on how to cook and store rhubarb. We then went into the sheds, which are silent and candlelit to show us the actual forcing process as carried out commercially.
All of us came away with a mixture of rhubarb and related products, having found the whole experience very interesting. A “pub lunch” awaited us across the road, where we sampled rhubarb beer, rhubarb relish and rhubarb ice-cream amongst other things. All in all, everyone enjoyed the day out and the raffle produced Jean Graves, Linden Smith and Margaret Day as winners of the rhubarb related prizes.