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27 September 2011

Bedfordshire's Hottest Kept Secret: Edible Ornamentals

From their base at at Cherwood Nursery, in the Bedfordshire hamlet of Chawston, Edible Ornamentals are commercial growers of chillies, herbs, vegetables and edible flowers. Their product range includes chilli plants, fresh chillies, dried, smoked, and pickled chillies along with our their gourmet range of fiery sauces and salsas.
The Edible Ornamentals nursery and farm shop are open to the public and, depending on the season, you can even pick your own chillies or fresh vegetables in the dedicated PYO polytunnel. 

The nursery is also a destination for thousands of people participating in scheduled cookery classes or chilli tour and tasting experiences. Their products can be purchased from website or at exclusive farmers’ markets, food and wine shows, and garden shows throughout the United Kingdom.
Edible Ornamentals also supply wholesale quantities of their entire product range to exclusive delicatessens, restaurants, farm shops, garden centres, Waitrose, Fortnum and Mason, Harrods, and other specialist chilli companies in the UK and Europe.

Photos: © childsdesign

Joanna and Shawn Plumb developed a passion for Mexican and Tex-Mex food while living in San Antonio, Texas in the early 90’s. They started growing their own fresh vegetables including Jalapeno chilli peppers. After moving to England in 1996 they started selling chilli plants, part time, in 2001.  In 2004 they began selling pickled Jalapeno and Fresno chillies in jars and later a traditional red salsa recipe (Salsamania).

Their first production kitchen was set up in 2005 in a rented unit at Vinegar Hill near Upper Caldecote, Bedfordshire and later in 2007 they purchased Cherwood Nursery, in the Bedfordshire village of Chawston. 

The former flower nursery had fallen into disrepair and since Joanna and Shawn arrived they’ve cleaned up the site, erected six polytunnels, built a log cabin for the farm shop, built a new commercial kitchen and storage facilities, as well as taking on staff.

Today, all cooking and growing activities are now consolidated at Cherwood Nursery and are also open to the public who can come and pick their own fresh vegetables and more than 50 varieties of chillies.

Craft and gourmet products are produced using traditional methods by Edible Ornamentals and they use as many of their own ingredients as possible.

As part of the Slow Food movement, Joanna has visited local schools speaking to young children about where fruit and vegetables come from and the importance of seasonality.

Edible Ornamentals frequently entertain groups such as the Women’s Institute, Rotary and other civic associations with talks, tours and delicious food! They also support Hidden Britain, Taste Real Food Bedford, and are proud to be Charter Members of Tastes of Bedfordshire.

Visit Edible Ornamentals on The Artisan Food Trail here

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