Kent, the ‘Garden of England’ boasts many farms, orchards and hop fields but there is one farm that stands out, Brogdale Farm situated in the heart of Kent on the outskirts of the small hamlet of Brogdale, just a short distance from junction 6 of the M2 motorway. The farm, home to the National Fruit Collection boasts nearly 4,000 varieties of Apple, Plum, Pear, Cherry, Quince, Nut and Medlar. The apple collection, by far the largest, hosts almost 2,200 varieties, who actually knew there were that many varieties!!
During the summer months trips through the orchards on the ’Train’ are available along with three conducted tours a day. Ride between the established tees, observe the various fruits at close quarters, take in their aromas. When to visit? Anytime really but during Spring the area becomes a haven of newness and awakening as trees burst into blossom, pink, red, white and that beautiful green of the new leaves, whilst the Autumn is harvest time with those green leaves turning into browns and gold.
The farm also run courses, mainly one day affairs, on wine making, home brewing, cider making, grafting, pruning, orchard design and even keeping chickens, there is something for everyone.
No farm would be complete without the traditional ‘Farm Shop’, but which one, the farm Fruit Shop, farm Tiddly Pomme for cider, fruit wine and liqueurs or the farm Butchers for fresh meat and sausages, actually they are all worthy of a visit.
Time for lunch and yes there is a café/restaurant on site open every day between 9am and 4pm with lunch between 12 noon and 2.30pm. The Courtyard Café, under the guidance of Bob and Gloria who will assure you a warm welcome and yes, it is licensed. Try a glass of chilled wine to sip whilst selecting from the menu. Everything from a simple ham, egg and chips to a tasty homemade cheese and potato pie or that favourite English dish of sausage, mashed potato and peas in onion gravy, the sausages coming from the Brogdale Farm butchers’ shop. During summer afternoons try a cream tea with scone, jam and clotted cream.
My visit being just prior to Christmas I selected from the Christmas menu, prawn cocktail starter, traditional turkey main course with baked potatoes, bacon wrapped sausage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, swede, yorkshire pudding, stuffing and gravy accompanied with cranberry sauce, to finish a wonderful poached pear tartlet with cream and coffee. Did I have any wine, yes of course, a delightful Zinfandel Rose. This is a café/restaurant worth trying even if not attending the farm.
As an added bonus parking is free as is that item that is uppermost in many peoples minds these days, Wi-F i.
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