The Chile Woman

chilie women
Bloomington, IN

My business, The Chile Woman, is dedicated to collecting, preserving and growing chile pepper varieties from all over the world. I am committed to preserving chile pepper biodiversity. I now maintain my own version of Svaalsbard, a seed bank of over 1800 chile pepper varieties. I am not a fan of hybrid, GMO or bioengineered seed. I have been a Hoosierganic chile grower for 21 years utilizing natural, sustainable chemical free methods.  My sustainable lifestyle has carried over to every aspect of running my business. I use local suppliers and recycle everything we can reuse from our greenhouse plastics, to office materials, refilled ink cartridges, repurposed furniture from Habitat Restore, recycled materials for the animal shelters and beverage 6 packs for easily transportable plant containers for people picking up plants at the greenhouse or Farmers Market. On our farm, everything has a purpose. We keep sheep so we don't have to mow. The chickens range free plucking up bugs and working through manure. The llama guards the sheep and the chickens.

My business was hit by a tornado in May 2011. I felt extremely lucky that my seed bank refrigerator was spared. While the rebuilding has been arduous, we have had an uplifting outcome. I was too heavily wooded for solar before the tornado but I lost so much of my old growth tree cover that solar became a possibility. While we mourn the loss of our massive trees, we celebrated the installation of a 5.2 K solar array that went online in January of this year. The Chile Woman business is now powered by the sun. My partner, Terry Morgan, is currently building a solar kiln to dry boards from some of the larger trees. The smaller trees feed our soapstone wood stoves. MediaWorks, my local web site hosting company is 100% wind powered. And the newest news is that The Chile Woman has just been certified as a Renewable Energy Resource Generating Facility.

We donate plants to our community and food bank gardens, the Garden Tower Project and the local women's shelter rooftop garden.

With the $5000, we would connect our rain barrels and put in a cistern, something we had planned before we were derailed by the tornado cleanup. We also had plans to open a small store which would carry local products and Indiana made spicy food products. One new project I am excited about founding is Meet The Vegetables, a cooking class to introduce children and families to unusual seasonal vegetables to be held at our local children's museum, Wonderlab. I hope this will become an annual event.