Swale Tourism
18th February 2024

The home of one of the world’s largest collections of fruit trees, Brogdale Farm, has been purchased by The East Malling Trust, the charity that champions the advancement of science in horticulture and agriculture.

The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale Farm is a living history and home to a rich variety of heritage fruit, curated by Reading University on behalf of DEFRA. Its orchards contain more than 3,000 different varieties of apples, pears, cherries, plums, and other fruits and nuts, and the 150-acre farm has become a hub for fruit enthusiasts, researchers, and visitors from around the globe, with access managed by the registered charity Brogdale Collections.

From its headquarters at Bradbourne House, The East Malling Trust actively supports the horticulture industry through its close working relationship with NIAB East Malling, based at the charity’s 500-acre estate and science campus.

"We are delighted to announce the acquisition of Brogdale Farm and we look forward to playing our part in maintaining the home of this nationally important collection, which fits perfectly with our charitable objectives,” said Dr Oliver Doubleday, Chairman of the board of Trustees of The East Malling Trust.

He added: “The move is consistent with our mission to advance scientific knowledge and innovation in horticulture; fits with our property portfolio; and utilises our existing estate management skills. We are committed to preserving and enhancing the unique heritage of Brogdale Farm and its collection, and improving the visitor experience. We also have an existing gene bank within the East Malling estate, and there is the potential for collaboration to drive forward future research that will benefit the fruit industry and society as a whole.”

Brogdale Collections is a charity which aims to provide public access to the National Fruit Collection. It organises visits to Brogdale, including guided tours. It also delivers courses, organises events and arranges outreach activities to promote the local, national and international significance of the collection; the importance of horticulture and biodiversity; of healthy eating; and of the environment and heritage.

Alan Roe, Chair of Brogdale Collections, said: “We have been extremely fortunate to have had such good relations with the owners of Brogdale Farm, who have been totally supportive of the charity and its ambitions. We believe the new owners will continue such a close relationship and share our values, and we are pleased the ownership of Brogdale will be in such good hands.

“We look forward to working with The East Malling Trust to ensure the continued importance of the National Fruit Collection; all the orchards at Brogdale and their rich heritage.”

In addition to the Brogdale Collections, the site is also home to 23 businesses, including a café, a brewery and other organisations.

Bradbourne House is home to the Hatton Fruit Garden, formerly the walled kitchen garden, which takes its name from Sir Ronald Hatton, one of the most distinguished horticulturists of his generation, and which celebrates the art of tree forming and training fruit trees in different shapes.

The two organisations have a shared commitment to advancing research, conservation, and education in the field of fruit genetics. Dating back over 100 years, the East Malling campus has been at the forefront of pioneering advances in horticulture and has made substantial contributions to the fruit industry. The acquisition of Brogdale Farm further strengthens the Trust's commitment to fruit research and development.

For more information on the work of The East Malling Trust visit: www.eastmallingtrust.org

For more information about the programme of activities at Brogdale Farm during 2024 visit: Brogdale Festivals and Events - Brogdale Collections