(Apple grading here, circa 1940)
Fruit has been grown here at Old Mill Farm since the 1930's, as the farm was once used as the Home Farm of a local Estate.
In the 1980's the Stephens family took over the farm growing apples and other fruit across 200 acres of beautiful Sussex countryside.
In 2008, I (Tom) decided to develop the family farm and business, to share the fruits of their labour with the world! The plan was simple; to save the orchards; to create a new and sustainable future for the farm; to share pure, natural juices and ciders with the public. To do this, myself and the team has developed and continued to make incredible (if we say so ourselves), award winning (56 to be precise!) drinks from the fruit; the legendary English Apple.
With my Dad (Glyn)’s support and help, I was able to start. But out of the 40 acres dedicated to orchard, we could only access 10%…. Why? Well in the early 1990's there was a huge crash in the fruit market and the value of top fruit, apples and pears, dropped so considerably that it became a complete loss and the cost of growing in the UK became much higher than the end value of the product. This led to a wide spread closure of many orchards across our region, as many businesses like ours were forced to diversify into other areas.
Fortunately for us, unlike many other fruit farms, we didn't take our trees out. However over the next 20 years, the 90% of orchard which wasn't used and cropped for our farm shop and cafe, became redundant and overgrown. So there became my next mission - to make drinks from the orchards we could get in to and from the sales of those drinks, refurbish the remaining orchards. 10 years on we have access to all but 10% of our orchards. We are still working to make the orchards fully productive, but with thanks to the amazing support of our customers and the success of our drinks, we have come a long way. We are driven to continue the recovery of the orchards and contribute to the UK and local economy.
From a simple dream in 2008, the humble beginnings of selling a few bottles of juice and cider from our small, old shop and at farmers markets, to delivering our drinks to cafes, restaurants and pubs across our region, in 2019 we were so proud and humbled to open The Cider Tap & Orchard in the refurbished space that was the old farm Cafe and Tearoom back in the 80s. 90s & early 00’s. This is now a fundamental part of our business, of the farm and local community with a few key objectives;
Share our love of the English apple through our natural Juices & Ciders
Change the face of Cider and help people discover the versatility of this wonderful drink
Diversify our business and farming capabilities to help maintain and protect the land and orchards
Create jobs and educate people about the craft of Juice and Cider making.
Come join us on our adventure