I started making hot sauce while working at Mt. Home Farm, in Orleans, CA. Located near the confluence of the Klamath and Salmon Rivers, the farm, run by Sarah Post, placed a heavy emphasis on homesteading and seed preservation. The fermented hot sauce that I began making was based on a recipe from Sarah's mother, Liz Hamilton.
While I moved off the farm to scale up hot sauce production, I still purchase some of my chiles from Erin, who also oversees much of our seed saving projects. In addition to propagating the Hot Winter Pepper, Erin also saves seed for the other heirloom chiles we use.
Now that I am producing Hot Winter in Portland, I have been contracting with local Oregon growers to plant out the additional peppers I need to expand my business. Currently, these farms include: Fiddlehead (Corbett), Dancing Roots (Troutdale), Minto Island Growers (Salem), Stoneboat (Hilsboro), Sweet Leaf Organics (Junction City), and Javier, from Adelantes Mujeres, a non-profit distributer that connects recent immigrants with potential buyers. Our garlic comes from Fiddlehead and also from Big Johns Garden (Klamath River).
My goal for Hot Winter is to establish a product that is deliciousness enough to encourage consumers to help support the local farmers who make these flavors possible. By using rare and unique cultivars of chile, I hope to make "organic foods" less abstract for people.
This is not just a substitution for a familiar thing, but grown in a different way-- these are wholly different peppers, that can only exist by working with small scale, regional growers. I am committed to paying fair prices to these growers, to help foster the type of farming that preserves our culinary heritage.