The UK National Fruit Collection, Wisley, England
Brogdale Farm Houses the UK National Fruit Collection
The National Fruit Collection is located at Brogdale Farm at Faversham, Kent, UK. The farm has 150 acres dedicated to growing and protecting the fruit genetic resources of our nation for the future. It is the largest fruit collection in the world on one site. There are:
- Over 2,000 dessert and culinary apple varieties
- Nearly 100 Cider apple varieties
- Around 75 ornamental or crab apple varieties
- Over 500 dessert and culinary pear varieties
- 20 perry and 4 ornamental pear varieties
- Over 300 plum varieties (including damsons, bullaces, greengages, mirabelles, Japanese & cherry plums and myrobalans
- Over 300 cherry varieties
- Over 200 bush fruit current varieties including blackcurrents, pinkcurrants, redcurrants and whitecurrants
- Over 160 gooseberry varieties
- 12 apricot varieties
- 40 ornamental Prunus varieties
- 4 medlar varieties
- Almost 20 quince varieties
- 13 Asian pear varieties
- Almost 40 vines
- Almost 50 hazelnut varieties
Between 1952 and 1954, Brogdale Farm was chosen and established by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), to house the National Fruit Trials collection which had been located at the Royal Horticultural Society's Wisley Gardens in Surrey.
Wisley had been conducting Fruit Trials since 1921. Their collection, in turn, had come from the National Fruit Collection at Chiswick. The London Horticultural Society (later becoming the Royal Horticultural Society [in 1861]) had established the collection during the late Georgian period (early 1800's).
The farm is better known as the Brogdale Experimental Horticulture Station which has built the collection with the addition of foreign import apple varieties.to complement the 750 plus UK apple varieties. Brogdale has built up an enviable reputation world-wide as an unparalleled authority on fruit varieties that are grown in temperate regions.
In 1990 the Goverment required MAFF to close the National Fruit Trials at Brogdale.
Was the fruit heritage of Britain to be lost?
Not if the general public and the action groups had anything to do with it. A public outcry went up to preserve the Station and it's invaluable collections. This was a giant step towards keeping the collection and the gene-diversity inherent in the varieties of fruit established there.
The campaign went all the way to the top of the 'green brigade'. Prince Charles got involved, through the Duchy of Cornwall, together with the Swale Borough Council, to provide mortgage arrangements to purchase the site. This was achieved through the Brogdale Horticultural Trust (a charity formed for the occasion).
The Council and the Duchy were not the only ones who contributed. The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers (established in the 13th century and one of the oldest London Companies) also contributed, as did the 'Friends of Brogdale'.
Although the land has been sold to a local developer, the funding and maintenace of the collection is under the jurisdiction of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) which owns the collection.
The University of Reading is now the curator and maintainer of the National Fruit Collection, together with the Farm Advisory Services Team (FAST).
Always New Varieties
The trialling of new varieties is undertaken to evaluate the commercial potential of each new variety. At any one time there are hundreds of varieties undergoing tests. These tests are undertaken for supermarkets, overseas companies and the Government. The tests assess various characteristics including resistence to disease and pest infestations.
£8; children £4; family ticket £20; under 2s free
Easter-Oct: daily 10am-5pm; Nov-Easter: daily 10am-4.30pm
Brogdale Road, Faversham, ME13 8XZ
One mile from Junction 6 on the M2.
+44 (0) 1795 536250