Branch Cider Crowdfunding Crop from Bristol’s forgotten Cider Orchard

The National Trust report that 81% of traditional orchards in England & Wales have been lost, and that the situation is worst in the South West. New zero waste cider company Branch are running a crowdfunding campaign to support Bristol’s local cider orchard.

Branch founder Ed Gibson says “Bristol is the cider-drinking capital of the world. The orchards around Bristol have some of the finest apples for cider making anywhere on Earth. But less and less of the cider we drink these days is made with our local apples and as a result the cider orchards around Bristol are rapidly disappearing”

Located in Bristol’s Abbots Leigh, ‘Far Orchard’ is the closest cider orchard to Central Bristol. The orchard’s last crop went almost entirely to waste because its owner could not find a market for most of his apples. The orchard was planted in 1951 by Redvers Coates of Coates Cider, a major cider brand of the early 20th century. Far Orchard was designed to showcase some of the very best apple varieties for cider making.

“Redvers Coates wanted to make the best tasting cider possible so he insisted that only Somerset cider apple varieties were used in Coates cider. Nowadays the flavours of mass produced ciders are so simple that they can be made with any old apples. That’s why so many cider orchards are under threat. We created Branch to help preserve our local orchards by turning their world class apples into ciders Bristolians will love” says Gibson.

Branch is now running a crowdfunding campaign inviting Bristolians to help purchase the apples. Supporters will receive cider in return as well as invitations to special supporter parties.

Branch is also pursuing a zero waste approach to its cider packaging. Developing the business plan while watching COP26, Ed recognised that businesses have to change the way they do things if we are to avoid climate catastrophe. This prompted a reassessment of Branch’s business model. “I realised that the ultimate green packaging solution is the glass of cider in your local pub!”. Branch are now packaging their cider in refillable kegs whilst developing refillable bag-in-boxes and a returnable bottle scheme which they aim to launch in 2023.
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