Otter Farm in Devon, run by Mark Diacono, is home to 120 olive trees that could become the source of the UK's first home-grown olive oil. Diacono hopes to produce his first commercial crop in 2008. The trees are of a sturdier variety than those found in Sardinia and so, while benefiting from our warming climate, can withstand the temperamental English weather.
There are about 30 farms in the UK producing ostrich meat. Mike Godfrey, owner of West Country Ostrich, based in Devon, is upbeat about warmer temperatures. "Ostriches are good at withstanding big temperature changes. In their native lands they have to stand 40°C in the day and -5°C at night. However, they're not good with cold, wet weather - so warmer, drier seasons in the UK would benefit us."
A number of chilli producers grow their crops in England now, and although this is mainly done under polytunnels, Jason Nickels, one of the founders of South Devon Chilli Farm, says warm weather is crucial. "It's critical that you can rely on not having a frost and in our location here we can. Up north it can be very different, but that might change if the climate continues to heat up."
Tregothnan Estate, in Cornwall, has the UK's first tea plantation, planted in 1998. The warmer weather could see more plantations pop up, as locally grown product can be far fresher than imports, which is often 12 months old. Tregothnan's leaves are packed just weeks after being picked and Jonathan Jones, its garden director, says he is looking at adding a wide range of other fairweather crops.
Fruit and nuts
Mark Diacono's Otter Farm is about far more than just olives. Also grown on the 17-acre lot are almonds, pecans, sharon fruit, apricots, walnuts and artichokes, with prickly pears, peppers, peaches and pineapple guava to come. "Working with climate change is vital," says Diacono. "We're looking to grow the stuff that works with it."
Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking has been producing pinot noir grapes for 20 years, so recent changes in temperature are not so influential as expertise in the increasing prevalence of this variety. However, Julia Trustram Eve, marketing manager at English Wine Producers, says: "Harvesting has been brought forward, which is great for quality, and we're seeing an increase in the number of vineyards in the north." Ron Gillies, owner of Cairn O'Mohr Fruit Wines, says his business, based in Scotland, is also benefiting as people start to drink his wines during warmer, longer summer months.
And one that didn't work
Iain Tolhurst, owner of Tolhurst Organic Produce in Oxfordshire, may halt his okra trials because of poor yields. It has influenced his opinion of the viability of fairweather crops. "It may be possible to grow crops that are unusual in England, but is it viable financially? A lot of these crops are grown in countries where labour is very cheap, for example, and you don't have to invest in things such as polytunnels. Growing okra outdoors here would be impossible," he says.