We are Red Mie, a smallholding in Ballaugh producing chillies, veg, Loaghtan, eggs and point-of-lay poultry. We also host educational visits and farm experience sessions.
The poultry side of the business has been going for 10 years, and in 2019 we first opened to the public for farm tours and experiences. In 2021 we started growing our own Chillies, we are the first and only Manx Chilli farm!
I have always had a keen interest in growing my own and trying to be as self-sufficient as I can - it started with a few pet hens, that quickly expanded, and in 2012 I established Pet Poultry, to breed rare and traditional breed poultry.
Stuart lived and worked in the south of England for many years, and in the south, chillies and chilli farms are quite a big thing! Being a keen cook, he was fairly uninspired by the chillies on offer in the supermarkets, so has undertaken to supply the Island with a huge variety of chillies, giving consumers a choice of flavour and heat. Best of all, since we grow them here, on Red Mie Farm, they’re all super fresh!
The business is always evolving; we opened up for farm experiences at lambing time in 2019, and really enjoyed welcoming the public to share with them what we do. In 2020 and 2021 we missed out on that, and opened up outside of the lambing season - people were pleasantly surprised at how much there is to see and do on the farm all year round.
The polytunnel this year has more chilli plants than ever and we have utilised every bit of space for chillies, salads, cucumber and tomatoes. We have 260 chilli plants this year and 19 varieties. Stuart being a keen cook developed a hot sauce last year, and hot honey, which we launched at the Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival. They were both really well-received by the public, we sold out really quickly – this year we will make sure we have plenty of stock! We have introduced a new chilli ketchup and a seafood hot sauce is coming very soon.
We are in Ballaugh on the Bollyn Road. I grew up in Kirk Michael, so all my friends and family network are in the area – it’s nice to be nearby, and we have some great friends who have mucked in at times when we needed help. We also have a great relationship with Lee Mayers Traditional Butchers who supports us by stocking our hot sauce and hot honey.
It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet consumers, chat to them, and receive feedback on our products. We also get the chance to talk to other producers and the atmosphere is so supportive, it also opens up the chance to chat about potential collaborations, which we love!
It’s great to meet new producers so we’re looking forward to seeing if there are any new faces. It’s also nice to catch up with producers we already know, like Isle of Man Salts, Isle of Man Meats and Ballakelly.
We intend to consolidate the things we already do. We have seen a lot of change over the last few years, so we want to concentrate on refining what we do. When starting a new business or adding a totally new product line then inevitably you look back and think, ‘oh this could have worked better if…’ or, you try doing something in a new way and find a better way forward.
Being a smallholding we have a wide range of products but the signature product is now definitely the Chillies. We knew there would be demand but we had no idea how many islanders were also missing the flavour of different chillies and wanted more than the red and green supermarket options.
The Burn Out hot sauce (now known as Red Mie Original Hot Sauce) was such a hit last year we have expanded the range of hot sauces. We are very excited to introduce a hot sauce with seafood in mind, we can’t wait to get some feedback from our customers and see what they think! We will have samples to try over the Food & Drink Festival weekend.