Where in Kent can tourists participate in a historic cherry orchard tour?

11 June 2024

Kent, popularly known as the 'Garden of England', is renowned for its lush, verdant landscapes, and perhaps most importantly, its fruit orchards. These orchards are not just clusters of fruit trees but represent a significant chunk of the region's history and cultural heritage, particularly where the cultivation of cherries is concerned. Among these, the cherry orchards stand out as a testament to Kent's long-standing relationship with this delicious fruit. If you are planning a visit to the area, one destination that you wouldn't want to miss is a tour of a historic cherry orchard.

A Brief History of Cherry Orchards in Kent

The history of cherry orchards in Kent dates back to the Roman times when the Romans introduced the fruit to Britain. Kent, with its favourable weather and soil conditions, soon became the hub for cherry cultivation. Over time, these orchards became a crucial part of the landscape, with cherry season being one of the most eagerly anticipated times of the year.

In the mid-20th century, Kent was home to thousands of acres of cherry orchards. However, as farming technologies and market demands evolved, the number of these traditional orchards dwindled. Today, they are a rarity, and those that remain are a precious part of Kent's heritage.

Brogdale Collections: A Premier Destination

When it comes to cherry orchards in Kent, one place stands out above the rest - the Brogdale Collections. Located in the heart of the county, near the historic city of Canterbury, the farm is home to the National Fruit Collection. This collection is one of the largest in the world and includes over 400 varieties of cherries.

Brogdale is not just an orchard but a living, breathing museum of fruit. Each tree tells a story of heritage and cultivation, carrying within its branches the legacy of centuries of fruit farming. Brogdale’s historic orchards are maintained to traditional standards, and the cherries are harvested by hand to this day.

What to Expect During Your Orchard Tour

A visit to Brogdale offers an immersive experience into the world of cherries. Your guided tour will take you through the various orchards, where you can see first-hand the multitude of cherry varieties. Whether it's the crimson 'Stella' or the dark-hued 'Lapins', every tree is a testament to the richness of Britain's fruit heritage.

One of the highlights of your visit will undoubtedly be the chance to taste the cherries. From the tart 'Morello' to the sweet 'Sunburst', you can savour the fruits of the orchard's labours. And don't forget to pick up some fresh, locally-grown cherries from the farm shop before you leave!

Planning Your Visit to Brogdale

Brogdale is open to visitors throughout the year. However, if you want to experience the orchard in all its glory, plan your visit between late June and July, which is cherry season. During this time, the trees are laden with fruit, and the farm hosts the annual Cherry Festival. This family-friendly event offers loads of cherry-themed activities, including tastings, orchard tours, and even a cherry pit spitting competition!

Brogdale Collections is located in Faversham, Kent, a quick ride from the Canterbury city centre. The farm is easily accessible by car and public transport. Before your visit, remember to check the farm's official website for the most recent visitor information and any special events.

Protecting and Preserving Kent's Orchard Heritage

Brogdale Collections, and similar orchards across Kent, play a critical role in preserving the county's fruit farming heritage. By maintaining traditional farming methods, they ensure that future generations can appreciate the richness and diversity of Britain's fruit varieties.

The orchards also serve as a living example of sustainable farming practices, crucial in the current climate crisis. The trees provide a habitat for local wildlife, while also serving as a carbon sink, helping to offset emissions.

Visiting these orchards is not just a fun family day out, but also a way to support local businesses and contribute to the preservation of traditional farming methods. So, the next time you find yourself in Kent, don't just admire the cherry trees from afar – step into a historic orchard and experience the area's heritage first-hand.

Experiencing the Cherry Festival at Brogdale

One of the exceptional experiences that Brogdale Collections offers to its visitors is the Cherry Festival. Held annually during the peak cherry season, this event is a celebration of everything cherry-related. With a rich programme of activities and events, it provides a unique opportunity to fully immerse oneself in the world of cherries and traditional fruit farming.

The Cherry Festival typically takes place in July when the cherry trees are laden with ripe, juicy fruit. It's a sight to behold, as the orchards burst into a sea of red, with the branches bending under the weight of the cherries. During the festival, visitors can take part in cherry tastings, where they can sample the wide range of varieties grown in the orchards. It's a gastronomic adventure that allows you to discover the subtle differences in flavour, texture, and aroma between the cherry types.

This family-friendly event also includes orchard tours, where guides share fascinating insights into the history of cherry farming in Kent and the unique traits of the different cherry trees. You can also participate in the cherry pit spitting competition, a fun and light-hearted activity that is popular among both children and adults.

Before leaving, make sure to visit the farm shop, where you can purchase freshly-picked cherries and cherry-based products like jams, jellies, and even cherry cider. By buying these products, you're not only getting a taste of Kent but also supporting local farmers and contributing to the preservation of traditional farming practices.

Conclusion: Discovering Kent's Cherry Heritage

Whether you're a fruit enthusiast, a history buff, or a tourist looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience, a visit to a historic cherry orchard in Kent is sure to make your trip memorable. Brogdale Collections offers a unique insight into the world of cherries and a chance to step back in time, immersing oneself in the rich heritage of Kent's fruit farming.

It's a celebration of tradition, diversity, and sustainability. It's about appreciating the hard work and dedication that goes into maintaining these historic orchards. It's about savouring the sweet and tart flavours of the cherries, picked fresh from the tree.

But the cherry orchards of Kent are more than just a tourist destination. They are a vital part of the region's identity and a symbol of resilience and adaptation in the face of changing times. Through the efforts of places like Brogdale Collections, these orchards continue to thrive, preserving a slice of Kent's history for future generations to enjoy.

So, if you find yourself in Kent, make sure to step into a historic orchard. Taste the cherries, stroll through the rows of trees, and soak in the beauty of the landscape. It's more than just a visit - it's an experience of a lifetime.

Copyright 2024. All Right Reserved