With its irresistible aroma, garlic has long been used as a flavour booster in recipes. From curries to pasta sauces, pizza toppings and dips, it has the power to instantly liven up any dish. That’s without mentioning its health benefits too.
On the Isle of Wight, this much-loved Mediterranean staple is celebrated in a big way – there is even an annual garlic festival in its honour which is well worth a trip to the island in itself!
So, what makes a tiny little clove of garlic so special?
First, here’s a little history…
Garlic arrived on the Isle of Wight during the Second World War when French soldiers who were based here brought some bulbs over from France in order to be able to cook their own cuisine. Due to the well-balanced chalky soil, high light intensity and unique climate on the island, the soldiers discovered that garlic grew extremely robustly, which leads us to today.
The health benefits of garlic
As well as being highly valued as a culinary spice, garlic has always been regarded as a well-trusted medicinal remedy throughout ancient and modern history. It is a powerful antioxidant with antiseptic properties – a great infection fighter against viruses, bacteria and fungi. Several recent studies also support the premise that garlic might have the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease and cholesterol levels.
Visit the Garlic Farm in Newchurch
If you’re the type of person who relishes the intensely aromatic and flavourful taste of garlic and appreciates its amazing health benefits, then you’re going to love a visit to The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight. With free admission, visitors can enjoy complimentary tastings of all the garlicky wonders, and learn all about this wonderfully pungent allium, where it comes from, how to grow your own and how to cook with it.
Colin Boswell has been growing garlic on the Isle of Wight ever since his mother planted the first crop in her kitchen garden in 1972. The success of those first bulbs sowed the seed for his infamous Garlic Farm in the Arreton Valley. Together with his family, this pioneering farmer has travelled the world, discovering new and rare species of garlic, which he has brought home to create his award-winning crops, renowned for their flavour, quality and beauty. Colin is now the UK's largest specialist garlic grower and his farm is one of the most popular attractions on the Isle of Wight.
Top three things to do at the Garlic Farm:
- The Garlic Farm Restaurant
One of the best restaurants on the Isle of Wight, there are a delicious variety of food options to try, including scrumptious homemade cakes, hearty breakfasts and gourmet meals. And true to their name, you can find many items on the menu with a good hint of garlic, from garlic ketchup to beer and ice cream.
- The Garlic Farm Shop
The farm shop is the perfect place to pick up a variety of garlic-laden products such as tasty chutneys, pickles and sauces. You may find yourself in awe of all the things garlic can be infused with, look out for their Vampire Slayer Hot Sauce and farmer Colin Boswell's speciality Elephant Garlic - it's the size of a cricket ball and potent to boot.
- Take a tour
During the school holidays and selected weekends, you can climb aboard the tractor trailer and enjoy an informative guided tour through the farmland. Alternatively, you can collect a map from the farm shop and go on your own walking tour and spot highland cattle, pigs, horses, peacocks and red squirrels, as well as the different garlic varieties growing in the fields.
Where to stay near the Garlic Farm:
Isle of Wight Garlic Festival
The Isle of Wight is famous for its many festivals, but one that draws over 25,000 people every year is The Garlic Festival at The Fighting Cocks Crossroads, just outside of Newchurch. This weekend-long celebration of all things garlic is held annually on the third weekend of August and is one of the largest and most eagerly anticipated events on the island.
Wander up and down the myriad of stalls, filling your bags with a concoction of locally-made garlic products and head to the Theatre Kitchen where a range of live cookery demonstrations are on offer. Watch star chefs showing how to get the absolute most out of the Isle of Wight’s flavoursome bulbs and pick up some recipes to try at home. You can even sample some garlic fudge!
There’s also live music, an exciting funfair, arts and craft stalls and a host of entertainment for all ages. Wash it all down with some black garlic beer from the beer tent, and you’ve got a recipe for the perfect family day out. The Isle of Wight Garlic Festival is a feast for every sense – a must for any foodie.
Where to stay near the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival:
When you’re all garlicked out…
When your tummy is full and your bags are bursting with every garlic-themed condiment known to man, it’s time to put your feet up and relax. Many of our Isle of Wight holiday cottages are within just a few miles of the garlic farm and festival, so you can be unwinding in front of a warming wood burner, or perhaps sinking into a bubbling hot tub in no time at all.
One of the best things about our self-catering holiday cottages on the Isle of Wight is that you have the freedom to come and go at your leisure. And with delightful well-equipped kitchens found in these holiday homes, you can try out some of those delicious garlic recipes as soon as you like.
Browse our Isle of Wight cottages today!