Got to tell you about our family outing to Bentinck Farm, Pembury at the weekend.
My brother had 'rented a cherry tree' as a present and we were invited to the farm on Sunday (belated Fathers Day outing) to pick the fruit from our tree!
Parking is easy and we were greeted by Mark the farmer as he showed us where our cherry tree was. He is clearly passionate about his work at the farm and he talked us through cherries, apples and the cobnut trees.
There is a lovely old cherry orchard near the entrance to the farm with trees over 40 years old and 25ft high. The old orchard contains varieties such as, Early Rivers, Merton Glory, Napp and Noir de Corbain. The farm is remembered by many as being principally a cherry producing farm.
The commercial crop is contained in a 5-6 acre orchard with about 1100 trees of several varieties.
1) Colney 2) Sunburst 3) Sweetheart 4) Hartford
The cherry season is late June to Early August. The cherries blossom around March/April time and produce a beautiful white flower.
This year has been a bumper crop for the farm. We have had lots of sunshine and long spells of heat to ripen off the cherries. It rained the day before we arrived too so a special rinse, care of 'Mother Nature'.
Our tree was the Hartford variety. When looking at the options to 'rent a tree' the Hartford produces smaller, darker fruit, but is usually a high cropper yielding a good return on investment. This variety was their biggest cropper in 2018! Taste-wise it is probably second to Sunburst but can also be picked earlier to give a sharper hint for those who like a cherry that is not too sweet. Picking is late June, hence we were perfectly timed or early August.
To pick the cherries we were advised only to pick the good looking ones (they all looked great) meaning to throw away any mouldy or damaged fruit. Popping any bad cherries into the basket turns the rest of the fruit very quickly, so you need to be careful. Each cherry needs to be picked with its stem intact. No cherries without stems!
As you drive to and from the farm from us in Edenbridge, the Kent cherry stalls are laden for sale but it was so much more fun picking, and sampling!
A few photos: