FINE CIDERS FROM LOST ORCHARDS, FOUND IN DEVON
FIND - A discovery of something valuable. FOSTER - To cultivate, nurture & encourage to grow
Revealing the quality potential of the old orchards that we foster in Devon, while cultivating, nurturing and encouraging this precious habitat to thrive are central to our philosophy.
We work with farmers to help breathe life back into moribund orchards on their farms; to prevent further decline and the extinction of important local apple varieties.
These orchards act as a gene bank where trees have survived for a century or more unaided by chemicals such as fungicides. Their disease-resistant genes are an important resource that needs safeguarding for the future. Moreover, unlike commercial orchards, these orchards are rich in nationally rare species and an important home for diverse pollinators, birds & other wildlife.
90% of Devon's Traditional Orchards have been lost since WWII and 50% of those that remain are in poor condition due to a lack of incentive to manage them or replace fallen trees(Natural England, 2011). We work with small, ancient orchards in which many trees have fallen & those still standing are dying back, in desperate need of pruning, suffocated by encroaching scrub and often strangled by wire once protecting the trees when young but later forgotten.
Through courses run by the Devon charities OrchadsLive and Orchard Link we have trained in all aspects of orchard management to help preserve the beautiful old orchards of Devon.
We graft rare, local varieties from trees already in the orchards and plant them to replace dead trees, we prune to encourage growth and reduce 'windage', preventing more trees from falling. Where possible we graze our Shropshire sheep to control weeds & improve soil health. Elsewhere through staggered, late mowing of specific sites we prevent our fostered orchards from being overrun with scrub, nettles and brambles but always leave significant areas wild to support a diversity of small mammals, birds, butterflies and other insects.
The apples in these orchards were previously left to rot on the ground year after year, yet they include some of the best cider apple varieties in the world (ideal for our Pet Nat), as well as unusual local dessert and cooking varieties (perfect for our fresh, sparkling Methode Traditionelle). Most of these varieties are rare or on the verge of extinction.
The vast array of varieties lend diverse and unique flavours, aromas, tannins and levels of acidity to our ciders, which we carefully blend to create balanced, unique ciders of the highest quality. Our ciders are a pure expression of the apple varieties in the orchards and terroir. We add minimal or no sulphites and apply no chemicals in the orchards.
To get the most from the diverse varieties of fruit throughout harvest season we use two different methods:
Methode Traditionelle (we use the same method as used to make champagne to create dry & sophisticated, fully sparkling cider)
Petillant Naturel (we bottle the cider before the long, slow primary fermentation is complete to capture tiny, natural bubbles. We use the ancient art of keeving to retain more of the apple’s natural sugars in some of our pet nats).
(Learn more on the 'Ciders' and 'Methods' pages)
MENTORS & SPONSORS
The Henry Plumb Foundation - awarded a grant to purchase the first little apple press and mill when Find & Foster was just a concept
EU Leader funding - provided match-funding to help the business to grow.
The Prince's Trust introduced me to an invaluable business mentor Jeff Lancaster.
MW Susan McCraith taught me on a Wine Industry module as an undergrad and continues to support Find & Foster
Simon Tyrrell, wine maker and cider maker, has taught us how to apply winemaking skills to cidermaking.