The Isle of Wight Garlic Farm is one of the Island’s most popular attractions. It’s the UK’s largest grower due to the Island’s record hours of sunlight. Taste different garlic varieties, tour the farm and visit the Heritage Centre before dining in its popular restaurant.
- Farm walk
- Tractor-trailer ride
- Taste garlic
- Restaurant and café
- Garlic Farm Shop
The Isle of Wight Garlic Farm
The story of how the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm came into existence is a good one. During the Second World War, a squadron of French torpedo boats was stationed in Cowes. They often complained to Bill, the landlord of The Painters Arms, how much they missed French garlic. He spoke to his RAF pilot friends who were carrying out night missions to Central France and on one of their sorties, they brought back a sack of Auvergne garlic. Bill began growing it and also gave some to his neighbour, Mrs Boswell. She grew garlic in her kitchen garden at Mersley Farm, now the site of the 40-acre Garlic Farm.
Take a Tour of The Garlic Farm and Spot Wildlife
Visitors can take a ride around the farm on the tractor-trailer (when operating), or pick up a map from the Farm Shop and do the farm walk instead. You’ll see different bunches of garlic hanging on stakes with information boards telling you about each one. Discover that Provence Wight, a soft-neck garlic from Southern Provence, has subtle flavours that are ideal for making aïoli, the garlicky mayonnaise so loved by the French. Children can also enjoy feeding the animals and trying to spot red squirrels and skylarks.
Visit The Heritage Centre
Many of us associate garlic with France so you’ll be surprised to learn in the Heritage Centre that it actually originates from the Tien Shan (the celestial) mountains in Kazakhstan. There are two types – soft neck and hard neck. The latter is favoured by chefs because of its large, easy to peel cloves and exceptional flavour. There are 600 cultivated sub-varieties around the world but it’s in China that 70% of the world’s garlic is grown.
Discover Garlic’s Health Benefits
Learn about garlic’s many health benefits. Crushed garlic in water helps to heal mouth ulcers; it thins the blood (hence why it keeps the vampires away); and it’s a powerful antibacterial agent. During WWI, the British Army ordered 100 tonnes of garlic to be sent to the frontline to fight infection before the invention of penicillin. Gardeners may like to try spraying crushed garlic in water to combat aphids, whitefly, spiders and other pests.
Taste The Garlic
It’s in the Tasting Room where the fun really begins. Taste different varieties of raw garlic such as Solent Wight, the original Isle of Wight garlic which has robust flavours (7/10 on the strength scale). The huge Elephant Garlic, the largest garlic bulb available outside the UK, is rather mild in comparison. Technically a member of the leek family, you can roast it whole or add it raw to salads. Try mayos, chutneys, pickles and relishes produced by the farm. Vampire’s Delight, a hot apple chutney, will ensure that any hungry vampires stay away.
- Don’t leave without dipping a spoon into a Black Garlic Sundae in the restaurant – it’s divine and children will love it. The garlic bread is especially good too.
- In the Farm Shop, stock up on Dragon’s Blood, a locally-brewed garlic beer; garlic popcorn, pork scratchings, roast garlic jam, rapseed oil with garlic and chilli and the sweet apple, fig and garlic chutney.
- Do dine in the restaurant which is open 7 days a week. It has built up an excellent reputation amongst Islanders
- Visit in mid August for the famous Isle of Wight Garlic Festival which has been going since 1984
- Read more about the farm in the book Kew on a Plate which accompanies the popular BBC series with Raymond Blanc and Kate Humble
- Gardeners can buy award-winning garlic bulbs to take home and plant in the garden
Garlic keeps much better in a plait and looks rustic hanging in a kitchen. If you’re cooking from an American recipe, a ‘clove’ of garlic is known as a ‘toe’ of garlic.