UK Growing Its Own Tea, Olives & Hot Peppers As Climate Warms

Growing tea in Great Britain

While by most accounts climate change will have a negative impact on agriculture as a whole, posing an additional challenge in feeding a human population increasing to an estimated 9 billion people over the coming decades, Reuters has an interesting story showing how, at least in some areas, warming will allow novel crops to be grown.

Enter: Britain’s first tea plantation, Tregothnan Estate, established in 1999, harvesting since 2005, with increasing crop yields every year since–as well as farmers experimenting with crops which previously were unsuitable for the UK climate.

Tregothnan now grows 22 varieties of tea and is expecting a record harvest in excess of 10 tonnes this year. The estate has also been experimenting with growing edible flowers.

Mark Diacono, a farmer in neighboring Devon has been trying to grow a wide array of crops including olives, pecans, szechuan pepper and apricots and also lists vineyard on what he calls “climate change farm” on his website.

“I just made a list of all the foods I liked, knocked out all the things others grow perfectly well locally or are cheaply available. I researched and found out that some that had not been grown here before might be possible given new varieties and climate change… so I planted,” Diacono told Reuters.

Be clear, I’m not presenting this, in any way, in an attempt to say ‘see, climate change won’t be a bad thing’, as is sometimes done to distract from the need to change our carbon-intensive lives. Rather, I see it as an example of the just plain interesting things that we’re surely likely to see more and more of.

Another example, which may sound fatalistic, but if we’re assured of having an ice free Arctic, I want to be on the first expedition that sees it first hand, a great expanse of open water previously frozen over.

Source: | by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY