I confess: Peppers are my favorite crop to grow. I love growing peppers (probably because I also enjoy eating peppers) so much that it should come as no surprise that I almost invariably grow too many and have to find new ways to sell them.
Peppers don’t quite give you as many options as, say, garlic, but here are a few ways you might not have considered for peppers to bring something new to your market table, your CSA and your wholesale customers.
1. Sell Pepper Plants
Almost invariably, because I love to grow peppers, I start more plants than I need. But this works out well because selling starts is relatively easy so long as the plants look healthy and are in a nice package. Plants not only make a good addition to the early season market table, but they are a good way to start engaging the first customers of the year and getting them interested in your goods.
2. Grow Ornamental Peppers
If you really enjoy selling plants, you could consider growing some decorative, ornamental pepper plants. These are multicolored peppers whose plants can be sold young with the promise of ornamental peppers in the summer or grown out and sold as fully fruiting plants. Trucking plants back and forth to market in the middle of the summer can be an ordeal, so start getting people excited about them early—try to get customers to place orders if possible. This will avoid too much back and forth with the plants, which is good for neither plant nor farmer.
3. Grow Green As Well As Red
I have recently seen the value in setting a specific section of bell peppers aside for strict use as green peppers. Green bells are just underripe red peppers (generally speaking), and you won’t want to take green peppers off plants designated as red peppers for obvious reasons (yield). Setting aside a specific section solely for green peppers will give you plenty of both.
4. Also Grow Other Colors
And of course, the many shapes, colors, and sizes of peppers are nice to have to keep things interesting with your CSA, your restaurants and you market customers. There are small, “lunchbox” or “snack” peppers you can sell in pint containers. And there are large purple, yellow, white, orange and black peppers (and probably some other colors) to liven up the table.
5. Give Samples To Chefs
If you do the above and grow all of these peppers, market them to chefs directly by providing regular samples. If they find one they love, they may buy all you have. Get restaurants engaged like this and they might ask for a section to be set aside specifically for them of a specific pepper.
6. Have Tastings At Your Table
My state of Kentucky requires a specific license to do taste tests for the public, but it is not hard to get and it is worth looking into your local regulations. Any time customers can taste something before buying, it increases the likelihood they’ll buy that product and perhaps come back throughout the year for other purchases.
7. Create Value-Added Products
If you find yourself with an abundance of peppers and need a way to preserve them, consider turning them into a value added product such as roasted red peppers preserved in oil or red pepper jelly. For selling, you need to process your peppers in a commercial kitchen (or under the guidelines of your state). But if you have a favorite pepper recipe, consider finding a way to commercialize it. Sweet pepper soup, sweet pepper salsa: Make those peppers work for you.