Portia’s Peppers

May 31, 2012

Get in the conversation. A new on-line forum, FacePlant, is social media for gardeners says its founder, Louisa. “I started this site because I love growing stuff, documenting my efforts, and reading about and exploring other people’s gardens.”  Photo courtesy of FacePlant.

Above: Peppers growing gangbusters at a community garden.


Anita Mc Kelvey © 2011-2016 The Philadelphia Pepper Project


More Pepper Trails

May 7, 2012

Seems there are quite a few pepper projects around the world!

Here’s a review of some non-profits with missions to revive hot pepper crops and to create sustainable markets that support rural farming communities.

Lambrineu Foundation Chilli Pepper Project. Located in Jakarta, this project is one of three economic projects that were created by the Lambrineu Foundation to restart this country’s social and economic development programs after the devastating 2004 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Before the tsunami, one local area, the Lhok Nga Sub district, once counted 120 chile farmers. After the tsunami, only 85 chile farmers were still alive. The Foundation, which operates from a community home in Lampaya Village, has aided production for local chile farmers. Funding has cleared land of rubble from the tsunami and purchased seed, fertilizers and pesticides. Efforts are also underway to create a Chile Farmers Association.

• A chile pepper project in Nicaragua is sponsored by Agros International, which aims to break the cycle of poverty for rural families in Central America and Mexico by enabling landless communities to achieve land ownership and economic stability.

Through a series of agricultural loans and technical training and support from Agros, families in El Eden and San Jose started a pepper project in March 2006. Since then, 115 families in six Agros communities have harvested 18 acres – nearly 70,000 pounds – of chile peppers! These villages have contracts with Chiles of Nicaragua which guarantees an export market for their chile peppers. In this case, it provides a large share of those chiles to US-based Original Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce.

The Pepper Eater Project  was started in 2009 by four Stanford University engineering and business grad students.


The Pepper Eater… photo from Compatible Technology International website.

The project originated in the university’s Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability class at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. After completing a successful feasibility study, two of the students, Sam Hamner and Scott Sadlon, continued with the project with the goal of implementing the Pepper Eater in Ethiopia and other developing markets. They’ve since partnered with Compatible Technology International to achieve that goal.

Dried red pepper is the most widely consumed spice in the world. In Ethiopia, it’s estimated that some 400,000 women process hot peppers by hand. This laborious process turns fresh peppers into higher-value products, like dried flakes, seeds and powder.

What is the Pepper Eater? It’s an affordable, hand-cranked device that mills dried peppers much quicker than flaking by hand. It allows for continuous processing and easy seed preparation while limiting direct human contact with caustic pepper dust and oils. This simple device provides these enterprising women with safer and more efficient tools.

Animals on the Edge began in 2008 as a non-profit program of Living Earth. “The goal is to conserve and protect wildlife by bringing together local communities and decision makers, and proposing economy-based solutions that provide people with a financial and social incentive to conserve wildlife.”

One of its programs is a chile pepper project in India that aims to minimize the impact on forest habitat and wildlife caused by farming communities living at the edge of the protective buffer zone with Kanha National Park. Animals from the Park often wander beyond this buffer zone onto agricultural land, destroying crops and impacting livelihoods.

The pepper project in India mimics one used successfully in Africa. It involves planting chile peppers around core crops to form a natural barrier to protect farmers’ crops. The animals go out of their way to avoid the unpleasant pepper plants. What’s more, the chiles can later be harvested and sold, providing a secondary income to farmers.

Anita Mc Kelvey © 2011-2016 The Philadelphia Pepper Project

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