By Izzi Wright
Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of South Devon, my day begins early with the soft glow of the rising sun, painting the South Devon Chilli Farm in a warm glow. As a trainee horticulturalist, my role varies depending on the seasons, but I will be talking about my routine over the late autumn and winter months.
The morning routine involves freshly picking a variety of our chillis for the online orders that come in. I work hard to ensure that only the best chillis are harvested which requires me to look at the overall health of the chilli whether that is its colour, size or shape. The vibrant colors of red, orange, and green create a visually stunning harvest, showcasing the farm's commitment to quality produce.
One of the perks of being a trainee at the South Devon Chilli Farm is the hands-on learning experience. Trainees work side by side with the horticultural manager, absorbing knowledge about soil composition, pest management, and the intricate series of events that lead to robust plant development. The farm becomes a classroom for me, offering lessons that extend far beyond the boundaries of textbooks.
Navigating the polytunnels:
The heart of the farm lies within its expansive polytunnels, where rows of chilli plants stretch far. Trainees learn the art of maintaining optimal growing conditions – adjusting temperature, soil conditions, and added nutrients to mimic the native habitats of these fiery peppers. Navigating through the maze of greenery, trainee horticulturalists play a vital role in ensuring each plant thrives.
As the day progresses, excitement builds as I begin my next phase which is seed collecting. Armed with baskets, I carefully pluck ripe chillies from specific areas that sit under nets. These are to stop cross pollination from occurring. Once I select the best chillis, I will take them up to one of our polytunnels which harbours my seed collecting station where I begin the process of harvesting the seeds from individual varieties.
Beyond the agricultural aspects, life at the South Devon Chilli Farm is also about fostering a sense of community. Trainees often talk with the general public who are able to come and visit the farm with any questions they may have about their own chilli plants or who are just curious!
A day in the life of a trainee horticulturalist at the South Devon Chilli Farm is a journey marked by dedication, knowledge, and the sheer joy of cultivating nature's spicy treasures. From nurturing the plants to chatting with the public, each moment is a stepping stone in the growth of both chilli plants and aspiring horticulturalists alike. The South Devon Chilli Farm stands not only as a supplier of premium chillies but as a living testament to the passion and hard work that goes into bringing a little heat to the world.