Caring for traditional orchards
Killerton boasts 50 acres of traditionally managed orchard with over 100 varieties of apple tree. Sparrow Park orchard, near the visitor car park, is an ideal place for relaxing.
The apples aren’t just for people, but for wildlife too.
Since the 1950s around 90% of traditional orchards in Devon have been lost. Cheaper imported fruit reduced demand for home-grown apples, while changes to more intensive farming methods meant traditional orchards were neglected or removed in favour of other crops.
At Killerton the National Trust manages orchards the old fashioned way. Over 98 types of apple tree are grown, which are bigger and taller than those found in commercial orchards. These trees are the cornerstone of orchard habitats that can support over 1,800 species.
Killerton cider is a useful by-product of managing this habitat and income from cider making is spent on managing the orchards and preserving old apple varieties. The National Trust aims to leave 50% of the apples on the trees or on the ground for wildlife, taking only 50% for cider production.
Award-winning cider and apple juice
Every autumn the apples are collected by hand, and squeezed by a 200 year-old press. The apple juice collected is then bottled to create Killerton’s cider, which takes its unique flavour from apple varieties such as Killerton Sweet, Killerton Sharp, Star of Devon and even Slack Ma’ Girdle.
The sparkling cider won the 2018 National Trust Fine Farm Produce Award for best overall drink for the second year, with Killerton apple juice and medium dry cider also winning awards.
Want to learn how to make traditional cider?
Join us for a working holiday every October to help us make cider the traditional way. Search for Killerton in the Working Holidays page of the website.