Tucked away from the cold inside a snug polytunnel on a South Gloucestershire hilltop, new seedlings are being cosseted, with heat blankets beneath their pots. Louise Duck has grown each from seed and will transplant them by hand into the warm raised beds that are waiting for them when they are a little bigger.
It is a lot of tender care for a plant that bites back, but then chillies are quickly becoming Britain’s latest food love affair. The British countryside and climate is hardly adapted to the cultivation of exotic fruits, but the rising numbers of farmers and amateurs who are now producing homegrown chillies bears testament to their rapidly growing appeal. Long found on “world” food aisles, chillies are now to be found in products from beer and cider to chocolate, ice-cream and hot cross buns, while British-produced chilli jams and chilli sauces are moving out of the farmers’ markets and becoming online bestsellers.
This summer there will be a proliferation of chilli festivals springing up, from Perth to Birmingham to Brighton, and also here at the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company on Manor Farm, in the Cotswolds between Bath and Bristol.
Last year about 4,000 people made the pilgrimage to the festival at the 17th-century farm with its little shop, where Louise and her husband, Alex, sell their homemade chilli sauces, chilli jams, chilli hams and sausages. Megalodon, one of their sauces named after an extinct and vicious shark, has its own Facebook appreciation page set up by fans. They have opened a campsite to cope with interest in chilli farming and are hosting weddings in the ancient tithe barn. “Chillies do make people smile, it’s all those endorphins Continue reading
HONOLULU (KHNL) – Tears, victim testimony, and other drama. All for the sentencing of a mango thief.
Honolulu prosecutors say the man should be sent to prison for trying to sell stolen fruit in Chinatown.
Neal Bashford sits in court, sick and tired of being victimized. The owner of Mokuleia Farms on Oahu’s North Shore says he’s losing the battle against crop thieves.
“Not only the financial loss of the fruit, which can be devastating to my farm,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s in excess of $12,000 to $20,000 a year.”
So he wants the judge to drop the hammer on a mango thief. Sinfroso Villegas stole 300 pounds of mangos from Mokuleia Farms last August.
“At some point, we have to put our foot down,” Bashford said. “Stop this. It’s been going on for a long time.”
For the first time, Honolulu prosecutors apply a new law that makes agricultural theft a felony. Bashford says the damage to his company goes beyond the loss of some fruit.
“They damage the trees. They break gates. They tear fences down,” he said. “The damage to the trees is permanent. So I get no fruit production from that part of the tree forever.”
Villegas breaks down in tears, as he asks the judge for leniency. Continue reading
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