Olives in England

Those who have delved deep into On The Farm may have stumbled on an article on global warming that I wrote for a New Zealand small farm magazine a couple of years ago. I’ve been keeping up with the issue ever since, thanks to excellent resources like RealClimate and Google’s news alerts. I’m certain that global warming is going to be a serious challenge for the world in the not-too-far-distant future, but I lean towards the optimistic end of opinion (ie, we can fix it, if we…). But I’m nowhere near as heroically optimistic as Marco Diacono, an Italian living in Honiton, Devon. As the BBC reports:

“Mr Diacono aims to bring in his first olive oil within the next seven years but just in case, he has planted an olive species used to frost and snow.”

I think they mean an olive cultivar, and I would guess we’re talking the Tuscan trinity — frantoio, leccino and pendolino — all of which are growing nicely at Limestone Hills. Even so, I would guess that there wouldn’t be enough heat (yet) to ripen the fruit — not commercially, at least — for a good many years. But I did note that while staying in Kew before Christmas, olives seemed to have become a trendy front garden tree — and there was even some black fruit to be seen. Time, perhaps, for a special English revision of The Olive Book.

Meanwhile, readers who have been waiting for news of our first olive oil will have to wait another year. Blackbirds ate the lot before I got the bird scarers organised. I am therefore planning autumn feasts with songbirds on the menu. Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie?

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