Spicing up the Bronx
For medical student Moshe Spira, an otherwise routine trip to buy groceries last year led to a fruitful new collaboration between the Einstein Community Garden and Small Axe Peppers—the makers of Bronx Hot Sauce. He plans to carry forward what was begun then during this year’s growing season.
Intrigued by the Bronx connection of the company’s green hot sauce, Moshe began reading more about the business enterprise and learned of its commitment to supporting local farms.
“Its website said that Small Axe Peppers collaborates with GrowNYC as part of a larger effort to support community gardens,” noted Moshe. “They donate serrano pepper seedlings to the New York Botanical Garden, which provides them to community gardens throughout New York City as part of its Bronx Green-Up program. Then, Small Axe Peppers buys back the pepper crops harvested by Bronx community gardens that are taking part in Bronx Green-Up to make their borough-inspired hot sauce.”
A Fruitful Collaboration
Motivated by this concept, Moshe reached out to Hannah Monday, a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience who was among the student leaders of the Einstein Community Garden, to see about setting up such a collaboration at the College of Medicine.
As Hannah recalled, “When Moshe approached me with the idea to use space in our garden last June, I had just repurposed a large water tank as a planter. It was a perfect match for what he needed to grow the serrano peppers.”
Typically planted in March, serrano peppers can grow until the first frost of the year. Moshe set up his 28 seedlings in the water tank planter, set in a back corner of the community garden. Located behind Einstein student housing, the garden offers a mix of plots for individuals and for communal use.
Sharing a Tradition, While Instilling Values
When asked why he would embark on his pepper project, Moshe said that it offered a reprieve from his medical studies.
He added, “It also allows me to pass on my love of gardening to my young son. It’s a favorite pastime from my own childhood in Georgia. Teaching him the value of putting effort into something now and reaping the rewards later imparts values I want to instill in him. And watching him plant, tend to, and harvest the peppers with me are memories I cherish.”
Added Hannah, “This collaboration is very much in line with the goals of the Einstein community garden, which include engaging in outreach and promoting sustainable gardening practices to younger generations.”
Community Gardening in Practice, Not Just Name
Moshe’s pepper plants produced 14.9 pounds of peppers, which reaped $52.10 from Small Axe Peppers. He and Hannah donated the money to Grow to Learn, a citywide school gardens initiative for New York City that provides ongoing resources, technical assistance, and training to support gardens in NYC schools.
“I’m participating in the program again this year,” said Moshe. “It’s a fun project and allows us to pay it forward in several ways.”
Posted on: Monday, July 15, 2019