Hot help for chilli fans
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. co.uk
Serena and Stephen Shirley are hosting the chilli festival