Hot help for chilli fans

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - What’s On -

What­ever the weather it’s go­ing to get very hot in Chal­lock the week­end af­ter next.

That’s be­cause the vil­lage’s Vic­to­ri­ana Nurs­ery is host­ing its an­nual chilli fes­ti­val.

The event is be­ing held at the venue in Buck Street on Satur­day and Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 3, and 4, from 10.30am to 4pm on both days.

The nurs­ery has been owned and run by the Shirley fam­ily for more than 50 years.

Jeremy and Joan Shirley started their first mail or­der nurs­ery, in Sur­rey orig­i­nally, in 1958 – but moved to Chal­lock in 1963.

Their son Stephen joined the fam­ily busi­ness in 1985 on leav­ing school and now heads up the team with his wife, Ser­ena, who joined in 2004. Stephen and Ser­ena’s chil­dren, Molly, 11, and Milly, 9, also now help out wher­ever and when­ever they can.

As well as selling a wide va­ri­ety of plants and seeds the nurs­ery also spe­cialises in toma­toes and chillies.

Ser­ena Shirley said: “This year we are grow­ing over 120 dif­fer­ent chilli va­ri­eties in­clud­ing new cool va­ri­eties, by pop­u­lar re­quest, and the new hottest va­ri­ety, the Carolina Reaper.”

Visi­tors to the fes­ti­val will be able to buy chillies and chilli seeds and get ad­vice on grow­ing them. The brave will also be able to take part in tast­ings in re­turn for a do­na­tion, with the money go­ing to the RNLI and the Mis­sion for Sea­far­ers.

Mrs Shirley added: “We also have ap­prox­i­mately 30 stall­hold­ers com­ing selling a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent foods and do­ing cook­ery demon­stra­tions and drinks and crafts will be avail­able. Our re­quest is that ev­ery­one does at least one chilli based thing on their stall, in­clud­ing our chil­dren who are host­ing a ‘chilli chuck­ing tent’.”

Ad­mis­sion is free and any­one who is new to chilli grow­ing can get ad­vice on grow­ing tech­niques.

On the Sun­day lunchtime Scott Elvis will be singing some of The King’s songs. Visi­tors will also be able to tour the nurs­ery’s veg­etable and fruit gar­den and walk around its or­chard.

Visit www.vic­to­ri­ana­nurs­ery.

Ser­ena and Stephen Shirley are host­ing the chilli fes­ti­val

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