Loddington Farm hosted the first commercial planting of Bramley apples by James Smith’s Great Grandfather back in 1890. Set on the hillside below Linton ridge near Maidstone, with stunning views of the Kentish Weald, the farm extends to 79 hectares, with 45 hectares of top fruit. Gala is by far the dominant variety with close to 20 hectares. In total the Smith family business farms nearly 140 hectares on four sites in West Kent.
This historic farm whose Bramley trees were some 40-50 feet high now specialises in modern growing systems. While Bramleys and several varieties of pears are still part of the mix, Gala clones alongside Rubens® and some of the exciting newer varieties not yet grown in sufficient commercial quantities make up the portfolio. The new plantings at Loddington illustrate James’s ‘blueprint’ for the future: intensive orchards planted on post and wire, allowing the trees to reach the top of the cane as soon as soon as possible, thus bringing the trees into full production quickly.
James is the former county chairman of the Kent NFU and sits on the Rural Payments Agency expert group on producer organisations.