Madhatter Meets…

Nina Blake

Epic location, epic produce and an epic woman, this meet up was a real treat for us! We headed over to see Nina Blake and her super cool tomato farm to find out a little more about what they do up there and what tasty treats they make with their gorgeous, organic veg! If you are apart of the surfing community, then you will already know that the whole Blake family are surfing legends over here! But if you want to find out a little more about Nina and her family run business then sit down and have a read about what we spoke about when we hung out.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I am Nina Blake, born in Jersey and living here growing tomatoes with my family and making ketchup in my spare time.

How long have you been surfing for?
I have been surfing since I can remember. Growing up always revolved around the beach and surfing as my family are all lovers of the sea.

What/who got you into surfing?
My dad and brother got me into it, I either got the choice to sit on the beach and watch, or go in and try! I took the latter option, it seemed way more fun, and thankfully I loved it and still do 😍

Is it tough being a female surfer in a largely Male populated sport?
I have never really thought much into it, as growing up I have always been use to surfing and travelling with my brother and his friends, who were always been really supportive and kind.
Nowadays I love surfing with my brother and boyfriend as it is always a great opportunity as I always try to push myself in the water with them.
I have also been lucky as I have always had a good group of girlfriends who I have always surfed with to, which I love. It’s always fun surfing with the girls.
I definitely feel times are changing now. I sometimes paddle out and there are more females than males!

What’s your favourite board to ride?
My 9’3 Joel Tudor crescent tail and 6’6 Bing Raven. They are the dream!

Where is your favourite surf spot in jersey?
St Ouens bay, always! It’s beautiful and there are such a good variety of waves.  The bay is always changing shape, so every surf is different.

What inspires you to get creative with your produce?
My customers. They inspire me so much. I love chatting to them when I get the opportunity to do a market. You instantly have a connection over tomatoes, ketchup or surplus! I love the passion and energy from talking to people with similar interests. It’s so contagious. It inspires me to go off and experiment to create new products and ideas to evolve the business.

Can you tell us the story behind The Green House Project?
It started back in 2014, I have always dipped in and out of helping on the family farm but started full time in 2014.  We prodomiently grow tomatoes and when your with the produce all the time, you really start to notice not every tomato is perfect for the shelf due to many different variations. BUT those tomatoes which don’t make the cut are perfect to be mulched into delicious sauces and ketchups!
It was sad to see such wonderful tasty produce go to waste and not be utilised.  So I combined my passions for food and cooking and the green house project was born!
Focusing on 4 products; 2x sauces and 2x ketchups. They are all made using surplus produce from our farm with no added sugar, so you can feel great when eating it!
it is a important part of our farm, as it is so wonderful to see the majority of our produce being utilised in some shape or form and staying within the island and out the waste!

Have you got a social media platform for your work?
I run off Instagram @thegreenhouseproject

Why did you pick this brand and what stands out about it for you?
Rip curl has always been a solid brand that has always stood out throughout my surfing, for its hard wearing products and commitment to the sport.
It has more recently over the years captured my eye for its bold and more retro patterns, which I love.

Thanks again for having us Nina! And thanks for the yummy tomato snacks, best tomatoes ever!
You can find The Green House Project Sauces + Ketchup at these local stores, Co ops, Grandmarches, Woodside Farm shop.

Words by Jenna Springthorpe
Photos by Ollie Jones Photography