Producing the Goods
Charlton Orchards is much more than a 45 acre fruit farm. They sell fruit at their farm shop (32 varieties over the course of the season, plus plums, pears, soft fruit, pumpkins and squash), as well as fruit trees and other kitchen garden plants.
They also sell many different kinds of single variety apple juices, together with jams, jellies and chutney – all made from their own fruit. They send apples by mail-order to all corners of the UK - and can currently (at November 2005) offer the apple crate at £22.75, the apple gift box at £16.95 and the single variety gift box at £16.25. All prices include postage and packing.
They hold a number of event days throughout the year, including Apple Day, Tasting Day and Winter In the Orchard, which centres around planting and pruning fruit trees, and advice on orchard care.
Robin Small (a partner in Charlton Orchards for over 40 years) has, with his wife, June, done much to help conserve Somerset’s orchard heritage. they give lectures, talks and tastings, and have done a lot of work with local schools; hosting visits to the orchard, and helping schools create their own apple orchards. June has produced an Apple Map of the county (see parts of it on this page), and a guide to the origins of Somerset’s apples.
These days, Robin, together with his business partner, Matthew Freudenberg, have retired from much of the day-to-day running of the farm, which has been taken over by Robin's son Duncan and his wife Sally Bail.
Duncan and Sally sell their fruit at farmers' markets and markets in Somerset, Devon and Dorset, as well as through their own farm shop. In the past the farm sold to various supermarkets, but Charlton orchards have discovered that it is both more satisfying and more rewarding to develop the local sales side of their business.
Contact: Sally Bail
Charlton Orchards, Charlton Road, Creech St Michael, Taunton, Somerset TA3 5PF
+44(0)1823 412959, e-mail: sally [at] charlton-orchards.co.uk
Farm shop open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Saturdays 10am-5pm. Not open at weekends from mid-February to mid-August except by arrangement.