Our Pepper Growing Project with The Heatonist in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Back in June, in the budding month of summer, Subversive Gardener paired up with our friends at The Heatonist to begin an exciting new adventure in the world of chili pepper growing. The Heatonist storefront was opened back in 2015 with the goal of finding the worlds best small batch hot sauces and curating a space to house and share that collection, bringing the stories and the sauces of the makers under one roof, one very spicy roof. We worked alongside each other to restructure the backyard space of their north Williamsburg headquarters in hope of building the home that exists now for the 9 different types of beautiful heirloom seeds gifted from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. Recently, we caught up with Noah Chaimberg, founder of The Heatonist, in the test kitchen backyard where this chili pepper growing exploration began.

Peering outside of the test kitchen windows into the backyard was an awe inspiring sight, it was clear to see the chili pepper plants were happy and bountiful. After a couple sunny summer months the baby seeds were now tall lush and full of their own unique and spicy morsels. Noah brought us through the test kitchen which has evolved into a space of sharing, tasting and creating, with the new addition of growing.

Noah shared the space and took us through the garden where new opportunities for learning have revealed themselves, whether it be the inspiring new flavors of these unique peppers, challenges with growing, or as Noah excitedly shared with us, the journey of creating their own sauce on site from start to finish.

Although the peppers plants are flourishing now, there were challenges to restructure the yard to ensure their well being. Noah recounted the chili bed building process as one of those initial challenges. Due to the heavy industrial activity of Williamsburg’s past we had to take the necessary step of building raised garden beds which we then filled with organic soil in order to mitigate the deep histories of oil refineries and chemical processing plants which were so pervasive many years ago. These beds were the solution and now are the home to 20 tall growing pepper plants. With over 300 healthy seedlings abundant The Heatonist saw another new possibility, the opportunity to give back, to share the growth. The surplus of seedlings were sold at the storefront to spice enthusiasts and hot sauce fans alike, and all proceeds were then donated to The Youth Farm in Brooklyn, a non-profit urban farm initiative that seeks to teach youth about where food comes from.

Now, with pepper harvest upon us, The Heatonist family is looking forward to all of the forthcoming sauce exploration, as well as the possibility of a harvest dinner in the near future.


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