About Kent Chilli Farm
Good prices. Good vibes. Good things.
What We Do
Here at Kent Chilli Farm near Dartford, we grow chillies from around the world. From America to Europe to Australia.
In all, over 50 varieties and 3000 plants. From the plain to the insane, from the prettiest to the meanest!
All our plants are grown from seed in our propagation house without pesticides or artificial fertilisers.
The environment and a wholly ethical approach to business play a huge part at Kent Chilli Farm.
Alongside the sale of our plants, we produce a range of our own fresh and dried chillies along with chilli
powders and chilli sauces jams and chutneys that are made by hand using our own chillies.
I started Kent Chilli Farm back in 2008 out of the ashes of a long career in art and graphic design for some major magazine and newspaper titles. When redundancy reared its ugly head I went through a dark month of reflection and then sat back to lick my wounds. It dawned on me that I’d spent the last 25 years sitting at a computer for eight hours a day, in a room with no windows. Redundancy wasn’t a burden it was a blessing. It was time for a change.
2017 brings us a another year closer to our 10th birthday. When you work hard trying to achieve something and things don’t go as quickly as you imagined they would, it’s sometimes easy to get disheartened. Every now and then we make a point of looking back to where we came from. Growing plants in the garden in makeshift plastic greenhouses and making chilli sauce to give out to friends…We’ve come a long way!
There’s nothing quite like growing your own chilli plant, picking some fruit from the plant on the windowsill and then cooking up your own bespoke creation. Something that has taken love and time to produce, the hours spent pruning and watering, toiling over the cooker.
Just like the act of giving flowers, there’s nothing like giving produce as a gift. That’s just why I got the chilli bug all those years ago.
I’m Steve Weller. I started Kent Chilli Farm back in 2008 out of the ashes of a long career in art and graphic design for some major magazine and newspaper titles. When redundancy reared its ugly head I went through a dark month of reflection and then sat back to lick my wounds. It dawned on me that I’d spent the last 25 years sitting at a computer for eight hours a day, in a room with no windows. Redundancy wasn’t a burden it was a blessing. It was time to start my sort of career. Sometimes we become prisoners to our jobs.
Horticulture is a great healer of the body and the mind. Growing chilli plants and making chilli sauce is something I’ve done for a long time. Most horticulturalists end up with too many plants and end up giving them away. I’ve lost count of the plants, chillies and sauces I’ve given as gifts when invited to BBQs and parties. It was a ‘no brainer’ to start a business out of a hobby.
Like all small businesses, it started at home. Lots of plants in the garden, plants in the house, lots of recipes, discovering how to run a food business whilst standing at the bottom of a very steep learning curve. Enthusiasm, patience and drive gets you everywhere.
We now grow our plants in large glasshouses in Wilmington near Dartford. In the early days I remember looking up at the roof that didn’t open and down at the broken glass, the lack of mains water and electricity, the huge weeds and the dead animals in those glasshouses. It fills me with pride to see our plants growing in that first glasshouse that had been repaired with recycled materials, basic tools, vision and belief. Some weeks later, I sat there in that same glasshouse with loud music playing, the kettle boiling, the sun shining in a blue sky and a bird singing on the roof. I then realised: It’s much better to be twice as happy for half the money.
The Kent Chilli Farm ethos is grounded, down to earth and unpretentious. Education and encouragement have played a great part in shaping our business. We’ve lost count of the number of children and adults who, with our help, have started growing chillies, who have nodded their heads, mentioning that they’re so unhappy at work and told us that we’re living proof that anything is possible.
As in previous years, this year we’ve visited Cub Scout packs and schools to run growing competitions. We’ll be awarding prizes in September to the two children with the best plants. We visit schools, businesses and a range of other clubs to tell the Kent Chilli Farm story, to show that growing chilli plants and other fruit and vegetables really isn’t rocket science and to talk about what we term ‘Food Awareness’.
The world’s population is currently over 7 Billion. By the year 2050 it is estimated there will be a further 4 billion people requiring us to produce 40% more food. With food bills painfully high for most families, there has never been a better time to grow your own food. Putting ethics aside, it’s much cheaper, tastier and fun to pick something from the garden rather than it is to drive to the supermarket and buy something that’s been shipped halfway around the world. I’ve listened many times to parents who state that their children won’t eat fruit and vegetables and have always thought that if those kids got involved in growing fruit and vegetables they would be more than likely to eat them. All we have to do is find the time.
There’s nothing quite like growing your own chilli plant, picking some fruit from the plant you’ve been nurturing on the kitchen windowsill and then cooking up your own bespoke creation. Something that has taken love and time to produce, the hours spent pruning and watering, toiling over the cooker and all the while considering what flavours loved ones might like. Just like the act of giving flowers, there’s nothing like giving produce as a gift. That’s just why I got the chilli bug all those years ago.
Looking at some of the varieties we grew way back at the start we still grow today. Sowing those seeds and nurturing those plants evokes some lovely memories. Coming in from the garden with arms full of chillies and then filling the freezer up until it was time to make more chilli sauce. Picking up old food related books at boot fairs, scouring the internet for chilli recipes and then standing over the hot stove with recycled jars and bottles trying to create something special.
Anyone who studies business will know the importance of unique selling points (USP) Part of ours is the fact that we grow, mainly uncommon varieties, after all there’s not much point in growing fruit that is readily available in the supermarket. We now grow around 50 varieties and about 3000 plants ranging from some of the world’s hottest right down to some of the mildest all without the use of pesticides. We’ve always championed growing without insecticide, choosing biological over chemical control. We try to create a unique environment in our glasshouse where nature does our pest control for us, enabling us to concentrate on producing the best fruit and chilli products.
We’re proud to say we’ve now stopped making chilli products at home and now produce at our Erith site. Look out for our open days when it’s possible to come and meet us and talk about your fascination with chillies.