MONKS are enjoying the fruits of their labours after taking in the harvest at the UK’s most northerly commercial orchard.

The orchard at Ampleforth Abbey, near Helmsley, looks set to generate more than ten tonnes of apples this September, from more than 50 apple varieties collected from the orchard’s 2,000 trees.

The fruit will be put to good use at the Abbey’s newly-updated cider press and - together with locally sourced apples - will be used to create 45,000 litres of award winning cider.

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A team consisting of monks from the Abbey’s Benedictine community, Ampleforth College pupils and estate staff have been recruited to help get the harvest in before it spoils.

The cider has risen in popularity since the last harvest, with a 30 per cent increase in stockists across the UK and it was also named Cider of the Year for the second time in a row at the Dales Festival of Food and Drink.

Procurator Father Wulstan Peterburs said: “The orchard is one of our greatest assets here at Ampleforth, supporting the charitable work of our community.

“To be blessed with such a bumper harvest continues a great year in the Abbey’s 200 year history as we look to supporting our work over the next centuries.”

Orchard manager Cameron Smith added: “After a premium vintage last year the pressure is certainly on to exceed the standards we’ve set ourselves.

“It’s all hands to the press this month as we collect the apples in their prime state, and hopefully spread the taste of our cider even further across the UK, and abroad.”