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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Chilli farmer eyes Mexican market
Dan May
Dan May aims to export his spicy sauces to Mexico
A Northumberland chilli farmer is hoping to break the Mexican market by exporting hot sauces to the Americas.

Dan May, 38, believes his operation is the world's Northern-most chilli farm, where he grows 60 varieties differing in taste, spiciness, colour and size.

The former photographer makes six sauces, soon to be seven, under the brand name Trees Can't Dance.

He grows his chillies in special plastic greenhouses to protect them from the elements and keep them warm.

And like bringing coals to Newcastle or selling sand to the Arabs, he is in talks with a Mexican supermarket to sell his products to the world's chilli aficionados.

Mr May, who runs a remote farm in Coanwood, near Haltwhistle, said: "We grow everything in polytunnels with no difficulty at all.

"From fairly early on in the year, the temperature inside them reaches well into the 20Cs.

Spiritual place

"We start from scratch every year growing the plants from seed in a heated tunnel, then plant them out at this time of year.

"We can start harvesting in July right through to December or January."

The chillies are then blended into sauces and bottled, without using additives or thickening agents.

He uses recipes he picked up during his travels around the world as a landscape photographer.

Around 2,000 bottles a week are produced under the Trees Can't Dance brand, which refers to the Central American belief that trees can provide a spiritual place to meditate because they remain in one place.

Mr May added: "If you think about it, the biggest market for your product is going to be the place where they use it most frequently."

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