About Michael and Joy
In our own words.
"In one way or another, I have been involved in the food growing business for about 40 years. This includes getting various degrees in agriculture, interspersed with development work in the tropics.
In 1989 my wife, Joy, and I came to England and started a market garden, growing a wide range of vegetables that we sold locally. A few years later we established 'Peppers by Post'*, the first company in Britain to grow and sell fresh chillies through the post. To make ends meet, I was a part-time domestic and international inspector for the organic industry.
Most of my time is now dedicated to Sea Spring Seeds, where I am involved in vegetable trialling, variety development and seed production. As a self-styled domestic plant hunter and culinary ethnobotanist, I also do research on the vegetables and herbs used in Britain’s immigrant communities. It is an on-going project that has resulted in our ‘British Ethnic’ range of seeds, which includes the Dorset Naga chilli."
Michael working on the vegetable variety trials: harvesting carrots, planting the radish tiral, taking notes in the lettuce trial.
"I grew up growing vegetables as a keen helper on my parents' organic market garden in West Dorset. I then went on to study agriculture at Aberystwyth University and eventually agronomy for a PhD. In 1983 I visited America – to attend an international grassland research conference – and met Michael who was a PhD student there.
Many years later, with overseas and research work under our belts, we came to England to run our own market garden. For some unknown reason (chillies were not popular in the early 1990s) it was not long before we started specialising in chillies and 'Peppers by Post'* was born in 1994. To make ends meet, we continued to grow a lot of other vegetables, Michael got a partime job, and I freelanced as an editor (www.englishword.co.uk) and ran a photolibrary selling images of vegetables (www.seaspringphotos.co.uk).
The establishment of Sea Spring Seeds several years later was a natural progression developing from our love of vegetable growing, combined with our inclination towards variety trials and chilli breeding."
Michael and Joy in the Dorset Naga seed tunnel.
* Note: Our enterprise 'Peppers by Post' has now been closed down and all sales of fresh chillies is through Sea Spring Seeds (see shop).