Castle Fruit Farm has been farmed by the Bentley family since 2002. The farm consists of some 130 acres under orchard crops with two lakes and a variety of different habitats for wildlife.
The farm is situated two miles north of the town of Newent on the B4215 road, 12 miles north-west of the City of Gloucester. The area is ideally suited to fruit growing because of the local climate and altitude.
The farm straddles the parishes of Dymock and Oxenhall. It appears from old maps that fruit has been grown here for a long time. The farmhouse is built on the site of a fortified farmhouse and across the road is the landmark of Castle Tump. The farm has a windmill, built in the 1920’s by one Lancaster Burns, which we are maintaining but sadly is not working now. We hope to restore it one day.
The growing area can be divided roughly into:
- Half for dessert apples, pears and Bramley apples – varieties are Cox, Ashmeads Kernel, Gala, Russet, Elstar, Delbar Estival, Braeburn, Smitten, Red Delicious and Jazz – Conference and Comice pears as well as some delicious new varieties: Hortensia, Xenia and Velveteen.
- Half for plums – Opal, Reeves Seedling, Jubileum, Valor, Victoria, Avalon and Marjories Seedling, and Reine Claude gages.
Find out more about our fruit varieties and what’s in season in our Produce tab.
Our Farm’s Green Statement: Care for the environment and healthy food
Fruit production and all operations at Castle Fruit Farm are carried out with regard to the sustainable use of all resources on the farm including soil, water, air, wildlife habitats, landscape, and where they exist, archaeological features. Production methods integrate beneficial natural, biological and cultural processes into modern farming practices using the most appropriate technology. The complete process of growing the plums, storage, grading and packing the fruit is carried out at Castle Fruit Farm. All land that is not used for crop production is managed to maintain habitats capable of supporting the widest range of flora and fauna.
For example, hedges are only trimmed in late spring one year in three, and grass margins are allowed to grow to provide cover for beetles and beneficial insects. We have been part of a university study looking at pollinator numbers and habitat combined with intensive fruit production; it has been found that there are good resources for pollinators; in fact we have the highest number of bee and hoverfly species in comparison with other orchards studied.
The soil nutrient status is monitored by soil analysis and nutrients added accordingly. The soil organic matter status is enhanced by casting the grass clippings in the line of the trees and in some orchards mulching under the trees using green waste compost. All the dessert apple, pear and plum orchards now have trickle irrigation installed so that efficient use of water is optimised.
To reduce electricity use solar pv panels have been installed on the barn roofs to benefit the farm and farm house. Solar thermal panels have been installed for hot water heating to the showers for the worker accommodation. Water and sewage from the accommodation is treated by a biodisc and reedbed system.
The farm is a member of the Red Tractor Assured Produce Scheme and is LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) certified. Both assurance schemes ensure the farm fully complies with the high standards of IFM (Integrated Farm Management). The packhouse is SALSA accredited.
We are committed to the supply of quality fruit which meets all legal and safety requirements of UK/EU legislation. The basis of the farm’s food safety and quality assurance system is a HACCP plan which has been completed and maintained. We have a defined Quality Management System relating to the BRC Global Food Standard, the heart of which is the Quality Manual. We sign a declaration each season to confirm that we have grown our fruit in accordance with all current government legislation under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 (F.E.P.A).
We are members of Fruition PO, a Producer Organisation with whom we have a marketing agreement to market our crop.