March 11 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Advertsising exec Neil Davy wants to produce olive oil at Huggit’s Farm
An advertising executive is hoping to launch Britain’s best olive grove to create top quality virgin olive oil.
Neil Davy tests advertising branding for global companies, but said his his weekend passion was olives.
So now he is planting 200 olive trees, believed to be among the first in the UK, in the hope of creating a small company selling some of the best oil in the country.
The 41-year-old moved in to Huggit’s Farm, Tenterden, six years ago with his wife Louise, 41, where they live with daughters Kailash, six and Teagan, two.
He said: “We want to exploit the climate change we are experiencing and realised Kent is the warmest and driest area in the country, so growing good quality olives is a major possibility.”
After a year-long trial using six olive cultivars, Mr Davy has almost finished planting some 200 trees of three varieties; Frantoio, which is believed to have originated in Tuscany and is known for its hardiness and tolerance of cold temperatures; Leccino, which is similar to Frantoio in that it is fruity and peppery on the palate, but its flavour is lighter, more harmonious and subtle; and Maurino, which hardy with a delicate, soft and balanced flavour, plus it is an effective cross-pollinator of Leccino.
Mr Davy said: “The warmer weather and lack of fertile soil on the slopes of the five acre field will provide perfect conditions for growing olives.”
If the planting experiment is a success, the next stage is production.
He said: “You don’t have to have factory-sized equipment. The production can be done in the space of a garage with machinery costing just a few thousand pounds.
“Our extra virgin olive oil will be more expensive than those sold in supermarkets, but will be of a much higher quality.
“It will be a bit like buying wine – you can spend a little for lower quality or a little more for much higher quality.
“Our area of Kent is one of the warmest and driest parts of Britain. When we combine that with the anticipated rise in temperatures from global warming, we think commercially grown olives might just have a fighting chance of success at Huggit’s Farm.”
He said the area is rich in agriculture; in addition to producing the famous salt marsh lamb and a wealth of arable crops, it is also home to some of Britain’s most successful and well known vineyards.