The home of one of the world’s largest collections of fruit trees has been bought 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 home to a rich variety of heritage fruit, curated by Reading University on behalf of DEFRA. Its orchards contain more than 4,000 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 world, with access managed by the registered charity Brogdale Collections.

“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.

The trust, based at Bradbourne House, 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.

Dr Doubleday 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.

Alan Roe, chairman of the charity, 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.” The site is also home to 23 businesses, including a popular café and a brewery.