• Pepper Picking at Goat Hill Farm

    We met Mattew Lilly last winter at a dinner at Howard's Organic Fare.  He mentioned starting a farm using sustainable, non-GMO, chemical free practices with a focus on heirloom peppers. It was a perfectly timed surprise
    Ben and I were working on a pork chop rub and we had a specific chili picked out. Aji Amarillos, a bright yellow to orange variety with a sweet, well rounded, slow heat. Native to South America, they are one of the most common ingredients in Peruvian cooking.
    Matt agreed to grow an experimental lot along with a few other heirloom varietals. 
    He invited us out to his South KC farm last week to check the progress. 
     Goat Hill is a beautiful rolling tree studded property. We were greeted by two sweet farm cats as we pulled up the long gravel drive. The property is also home to a small heard of goats and a ferral peacock. In addition to growing heirloom peppers, there are also potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet corn, oats, sorghum, amaranth sunflowers, paw paw, black walnut, and a wide variety of greens and herbs. Vines of beans and gourds climb everywhere. He plans to sugar the black walnut, hickory and maple trees through the same process as maple syrup. And in the winter there will be wheat growing. Matt's grandparent's brought the property in the 80's and he grew up gardening with them. In the last two years he has taken an active roll in making the land productive. Matt's goal is to grow and forage the majority of his own food.
    Matt practices a blend of no till, biodynamic, and biointensive farming methods with an emphasis on companion planting.  He is very inspired by Bad Seeds beyond organic approach. The crops grow in a very intermingled layout that looks hap hazard, but as we walk down a path between cornstalks lined with heirloom peppers Matt explains his process.  The corn is ready to harvest shortly after it gets tall enough to cause any competition for the peppers. After harvesting, it will be taken down giving the peppers the sun they need to ripen. I am curious to see how this goes. When I worked at the Ferry Building farmer's market in San Francisco one of the most sought out produce farms was right on the coast, just North of Santa Cruz. They claimed the cool, over cast micro climate of the coast caused their vegetables to grow slower resulting in sweeter, more tender veggies.  Many crops benefit from carefully monitored restrictions. If you have ever had a dry farmed tomatoe or peaberry coffee you know what I am talking about. Matt has planted the Aji Amirillos in a variety of growing conditions so we will be able to experiment with what yields the best results and emulate it on a bigger scale next year.
    We are so stoked to be collaborating with Goat Hill Farm. 
    Little green growing Aji Amarillos.

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