Chilli farm set for second big festival
Chilli chocolate, chilli beer and chilli ice cream just the start
WHEN Lynne Seaton-Anderson was given some chilli seeds to plant on her 14ha property at Murphys Creek, she had no idea it would be such a life changer.
As it turned out, the sandstone flats around the property made the perfect environment to grow a flourishing crop of chemical-free chillis.
Each year she harvested her own seeds to re-plant and the only hitch along the way was the 2011 floods, which were followed up by a further wash-out in 2012.
After learning from that mistake and changing the location of the crop, she and son Jason O’Connor never looked back.
The only real question was what to do with a chilli that had an awful lot of heat, but no flavour.
Mrs Seaton had the perfect answer: use it to make delicious chilli chocolate.
She worked on perfecting the recipe and created a brand name from an old family joke. Seatonfire chilli chocolate was born, though Mr O’Connor said surprisingly few people got the pun.
But despite having a bit of a laugh over the name, Mr O’Connor said their aim was never to burn people’s bums off, but rather give the tastebuds a tingle.
He said plenty of people who weren’t big chilli eaters were delighted to try the wares (and survive to tell the tale).
The duo bought the property 25 years ago, started growing chillis 15 years ago and making the chilli chocolate 10 years ago.
When it seemed like there were no further ways to put more jobs on their already full plates, the idea for hosting Queensland’s only chilli festival popped up.
Mr O’Connor said it was a simple case of having done the circuit through New South Wales and Victoria so many times they got tired of travelling so far to showcase their fascinating wares.
Last year they held the inaugural Murphy’s Creek Chilli Festival and it was such a massive success they grew it exponentially this year.
They couldn’t have picked a better time, with this year’s hot and dry conditions giving the crop exactly what it needed unlike most crops across Queensland.
“The chillis love it,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The more heat the better, so the plants are thriving and fruit is forming and they’ll be pickable earlier than most years.”
He said the only problem apart from the odd pest invasion was black frost, but the conditions at Murphys Creek were pretty perfect.
Most pest incursions could be beaten back with a spray-on mixture of chilli and garlic.
They decided not to bother with organic certification, instead reassuring customers that no chemicals had been used on the property in more than 20 years.
Even the rosemary and lime used in the chocolate bars was grown on the property without the use of chemicals.
Each year they carried out a mixture of planting new seedlings and pruning back older plants, with most of the established plants surviving a number of years.
The yield from each plant even increased with each passing year.
“The second and third years
HOT STUFF: Lynne Seaton-Anderson and her son Jason O’Connor with some of Seatonfire’s finest products.