Figs in Essex

Essex fig orchard.jpeg

My grandfather was a keen proponent of being one step ahead of the crowd. I recently found an old letter from him, long lost at the back of a filing cupboard with advice for my father. Handwritten and faded, it nevertheless spelt out in a few paragraphs, advice and wisdom that you can pay thousands for from management consultants these days.

One phrase comes back to mind. “Get yourself a deputy so you can get away from this place, find yourself time to think”. I have long been called a daydreamer but the idea for figs came while returning from a trip to Rungis Market in Paris and subsequent conversation with my wife, Justine.

Thompsons figs.jpg

With help, advice and guidance from our resident fruit guru, master grafter, nurseryman and fruiterer Will Sibley, we eventually settled on six chosen varieties of figs. Planted in an open field orchard we have selected varieties to fit the UK climate and the 1-hectare trial, which is now well established.

We tasted the first fruit last year and a second variety fruited well this year. The taste and appearance were better than I could have hoped for and easily a match for the fruit I saw back in Rungis. Next year we should be able to provide samples for our figs to customers for the first time.

There’s a lot to be said for daydreaming.