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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 15:20 GMT
Fruit collections' future secured
Rows of fruit trees at Brogdale Farm
The 150-acre farm at Brogdale has about 50,000 visitors a year
The National Fruit Collections are to remain in Kent for the foreseeable future, the government has announced.

The University of Reading will now curate the collections, at Brogdale, near Faversham, Kent, from April 2008.

The 150-acre site is home to 2,040 varieties of apple, 502 varieties of pear, 322 types of cherry as well as many other types of fruits.

A dispute between the landowners and the previous curators had threatened the future of the collections in Kent.

A clause in the tender document said bids could plan for the relocation of the collections.

'Local support'

And Brogdale Horticultural Trust, the previous curators, said during the bidding process that a wrangle with Hillreed Land could force them to move collections elsewhere if they retained the tender.

Hillreed Land said at the time it was committed to keeping the collections where they were.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said the tender was still subject to an agreement with the landlord to extend Brogdale's lease.

But minister for sustainable farming and food, Jeff Rooker, said: "The long term security of the collections has always been our main priority therefore we welcome the decision for the National Fruit Collections to remain at Brogdale.

"Local support stressing the importance of retaining the collections at Brogdale has been continuous since the start of the tendering process."

Mr Rooker also thanked the Brogdale Horticultural Trust and Imperial College for their support in looking after the collections over the years.

The living "gene bank" of fruit types - including apples, pears, plums and cherries - has been at the farm for more than 50 years, with the horticultural trust managing it for nearly two decades.



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