History of the Chilli Farm
From small beginnings…
It all started with a few chilli plants growing in a Devon back garden in the 1990s.
From there it progressed to a rented polytunnel in 2001 and a glut of chillies nobody knew what to do with! Farmers markets became the go-to for selling the bumper crops.
So many chillies were grown that they couldn’t possibly all be sold – so, the first foray into cooking and preserving began!
Our very first product was our Hot Apple Chilli Jelly, made very simply by boiling up apples, sugar and a little chilli. We went on to create other preserves using sugar and vinegar as natural preservatives. We still stick to this original method of preserving even today, with no additives, and cook in small batches by hand to give everything that lovely home-cooked flavour.
We also experimented with drying and smoking techniques as well as mixing dried chilli with chocolate – a sure-fire winner!
Our customers loved all these products so much that the Chilli Farm as a full time grower, manufacturer and retailer was born! Our first website followed in 2003.
The business expands….
Cooking everything in small home kitchens started to become rather a juggling act and space became scarce, so the next step was to look for a site where we could increase our production. In 2005, a local farmer agreed to sell us 10 acres of fabulous South Hams farmland!
On this amazing new site, we were able to build a big barn to house a production kitchen and storage for all our products – by this time we were getting through a fair few jars and bottles!
We then added 6 huge polytunnels – one to house our chilli plant nursery, four for our crops and one to serve as a show tunnel – which still houses a breath-taking display of 100s of chilli plant varieties every year!
Opening a shop…
Once the big barn was up and running, a small section of it was set aside to use as a shop, so that locals could pop in and pick up their favourite products as well as take a look at the show tunnel display.
Our site is in such a beautiful rural location with far reaching views, it was decided to build a proper extension to the big barn, so that we had a proper place for visitors to come and spend a bit longer with us enjoying the scenery and the chillies.
In 2011 this was completed and the extension now houses our lovely farm shop – where you can stop by for a drink and a cake, or bring a picnic to enjoy the lovely views.
In 2014, we added a further 2 polytunnels to our permanent site, and gave up our last remaining rented tunnels – now the South Devon Chilli Farm is all in one place!
Over the years the business has grown from strength to strength, and now in 2023 space is becoming tight again! This year we will be adding 2 more tunnels to our site – another nursery tunnel to allow us to grow lots more plug plants, seedlings and pot plants, as well as another new crop tunnel to allow us to make more of our tasty products.
We don’t sit still for long here at the South Devon Chilli Farm so watch this space for our next adventure!