RURAL EXCHANGE INTERVIEW - Sweet Success: The Art + Challenges of Fig Farming with Emily Hope

A few week's ago, we chatted to Dom from Rural Exchange about the challenges of fig farming here at Old Road Estate. 

Information below copied with permission from Sweet Success: The Art + Challenges of Fig Farming with Emily Hope (

Emily Hope, a fig farmer at Old Road Estate in Marlborough, talks to Dom George about the nuanced art and inherent challenges of cultivating figs.

Hope has spent the past eight seasons managing her parent’s orchard during the harvest months over Autumn. A process of dedication and never-ending learning.

One of the key talking points of the conversation is the intricate dance with nature that fig farming entails. Hope discusses the high maintenance required by fig trees and the vulnerability of the fruits to weather conditions. 

"They hate it when they're bright and they're wet," she explains, highlighting the desire for a dry autumn to ensure quality produce. The pressure to deliver fresh figs within a 24-hour window post-harvest adds another layer of complexity, as logistics often fall outside her control. 

Another focal point of the conversation is the polarising nature of figs among consumers. 

"People either love figs like are obsessed with them, or they absolutely hate them." 

This dichotomy is fascinating to her, as she meets customers with fond memories of figs from their travels or family connections, seeking to recreate those experiences. She aims to share her love of figs with others who appreciate this unique fruit. 

The conversation also touches upon the versatility of figs in the culinary world, with Hope sharing a recipe for a fig and chocolate torte. 

This simple yet decadent dessert, made with fresh eggs, ground almonds, and melted chocolate, exemplifies the passion she has for her craft. 

Throughout the conversation, Hope's dedication to fig farming and her innovative spirit in transforming the family business into a fig lover's haven is evident. Her story serves as a testament to the hard work and love that goes into every aspect of fig cultivation, from the orchard to the dessert plate.

Listen to the full chat between Emily Hope and Dominic George above.

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