How it all started – The Wiltshire Chilli Farm

by WiltshireChilliFarm on May 10, 2011 · 1 comment

in General Information, UK Growers, UK Retailers

May already! Time has literally flown by since our first see was sown last year. I’ve been asked a lot about how we started so decided to write a little about how it all began.

Wiltshire Chilli Farm

Wiltshire Chilli Farm

Our Story

After a few beers down the local I was asked ‘so what do you want to be when you grow up?’ my immediate response was a Chilli farmer. Over the next few weeks that question played on my mind so we went out and bought a small 10ft by 15ft poly tunnel and sowed just over 150 seeds. That was February 2010.

Our initial plan was to sell fresh chillies, however it soon became apparent that option wouldn’t be sustainable so we started looking at other ways to use the crop. Having always enjoyed cooking and playing around with food, the idea of producing chilli sauces sprung to mind. The summer rolled on by and our 150 plants started producing a huge crop of ripe chillies.

The legalities were sorted, recipes produced and after spending most of August with my hands and face constantly on fire we began to trial products down the local pub. A wary group of family and friends became our official tasters and soon the final range was decided.

The next task was to design our branding. Having a little design experience and absolutely no money we started to mock up labels ourselves, 6 designs later we had one which everyone liked. By November production was set to begin and we were finally ready to start selling our sauces.

We attended our first market early December and were completely overwhelmed by the popularity of our stall. It was great to see that so many people enjoyed our products and so we attended a few more markets which reinforced our confidence that this could be a viable business. Inspired by our success at the markets we purchased our first commercial poly tunnel, 24ft wide by 60ft long and set about planning what varieties to grow.

With our second baby due in January we decided to take two months off the markets and plan the coming months. It was also during this time that we sowed the first seeds of the year, Douglahs and Chocolate Habaneros (I’m a huge fan of the Chocolate varieties ).

Seedling underway

Seedling underway

With my addiction to growing chillies in full flow the initial 200 seeds soon multiplied into 600, then over 1,000 which completely took over the house. I decided a single commercial tunnel just wasn’t enough and so, much to Julie’s dismay, purchased a second 24ft by 60ft tunnel. We also purchased a smaller 10ft by 20ft tunnel which is sponsored by Greenhouse Sensation showcasing some of their innovative planters.

It was also around this time that we approached Jonathan, the owner of our local Garden Centre (Lowden Garden Centre) with the idea of a Chilli show tunnel. Hosting it in a busy garden centre would allow enthusiasts and the uninitiated alike to see and taste a multitude of different Chilli varieties. Jonathan was very receptive to the idea and offered us the use of one of his commercial poly tunnels for the year.

putting on the covers

putting on the covers

By March the poly tunnel frames were up and a group of friends were on standby for a windless day to help get the covers on. By mid April the covers were on, ground rotovated and irrigation laid ready for the frosts to pass before planting out. We’ve then spent the last week of April planting out every evening and keeping a close eye on the plants to make sure they’re happy in their new home.

chillies planted and starting to grow

chillies planted and starting to grow

Overall the last few months have been more than hectic as we finish our huge expansion from growing just over 150 plants to well over a 1,000 in 4,200 sq ft of growing space. There’s still a lot more to do, many new markets, leaflets to design and new sauces to produce, but with tunnels ready and majority of planting done the next job on the list is to get the plants out in the show tunnel then sit back and have a beer.

The Wiltshire Chilli Farm

The Wiltshire Chilli Farm

Happy Growing

Jamie & Julie.

Editors Note: You can visit the Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s web site at www.justchillies.co.uk

The Gallery of Images – Building the Wiltshire Chilli Farm

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

avatar BERNARD January 25, 2016 at 9:55 am

Hallo,
amazing your idea sounds exactly like mine. differnce maybe mine came when a friend mentioned about farming greens and since guys were into water melon i decided to think of something wiered man.
Chilli, chillies and everyone was like what? are you serious man.
I’m ready to go from two months time.
more tips brother.

regards,

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