Who are we?
We are an odd lot and a motley crew. Peppers by Mail is a tiny family owned and operated business located in the rolling hills of Kentucky. One mama, one papa, two kids, and a grandma who doesn’t get out much. The papa mainly manages our peppers and tiny acreage.
From left to right: baby boy Drew, Papa A.J.Drew, Mamma Aimee, and baby girl Aubrey. The photo was taken at the Kentucky Renaissance Festival where we maintain a booth titled “Farm and Forge”. The Kentucky Renaissance Festival is the only festival we have continued year after year since before A.J.’s injury.
Our homestead is more than a business. It is a way of life. It is a daily process where we learn to live in relative harmony with the land and the critters who occupy it. Although Peppers by Mail brings business to the daily routine, our main focus continues to be sustenance farming. We grow and stow a fairly large percentage of our own food, not only to offset our grocery bill but because doing so has become part of who we are.
Who is the papa?
In July of 2006, A.J. Drew (the papa) was seriously injured in an event which destroyed his former business. A moderate traumatic brain injury left him unable to return to his former occupation. After the family moved to the foot hills of Kentucky, A.J. began sustenance farming to contribute to his family’s needs. Sustenance farming led to selling produce locally. Selling produce locally led to growing some of the world’s hottest peppers. And there he remains today. A bit tattered, a bit put upon, but still going.
What do we do?
We grow, harvest, and save the seeds from rare, unusual, and super hot peppers. We sell fresh peppers, dried peppers, living plants, seeds an grow kits. Our homestead’s gardens are organic. We use ducks and chicken to keep down the bugs and our own hands to keep down the weeds. Fertilizer comes from our various critters who forage the gardens during the winter to keep down the weeds.
Why our seeds?
We have been seed savers and traders for about a decade. We use principles of isolation discussed in the book Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth. With each generation, only the best examples of each cultivar is harvested for seed stock. The result being that our lines improve with each generation.
We sell most of our rare seeds in packs of 20 for $5.00 a pack. Some sell the same cultivars at a higher price. The average price amoung the big name sellers seems to be about $8.00 per pack of 10. Some sell the same cultivars for a lower price. The average reseller of mass sourced seeds, often from China, seems to be hovering at $3.00 per pack. Our prices are in the middle. We strive to offer an excellent product at a fare price. Thing is, selling seeds is just a sideline for us.
Unlike much larger companies who resell commercial seed or contract other to grow what they sell, we harvest seeds for ourselves. Seed saving is how we perpetuate our heirloom gardens. Each fall, we select the best examples of what we have grown the previous season. From those selections, we generate seed for the next season. After we plan the next season’s gardens, we sell the exceed we produced. When it is gone for that season, it is gone.
So when you order our seeds, you receive the best hand selected seeds from our previous year’s garden. You do not receive mass produced seed of unknown origin. The down side is simple, we do not offer the variety or volume the big companies can.
Why Fresh Peppers by Mail?
At first we thought the idea was rather insane. Then we started to think about how fresh food gets to the grocery store. Often times it travels hundreds of miles. We pick, pack, and ship same day. This means when you order from Peppers by Mail there is a very good chance that what you receive is fresher than what you can purchase at the grocery store. That is a win win for both the consumer and the grower.
Although the market for super hot peppers is growing rapidly, those who appreciate these unusual peppers remain few and far between. It is difficult for a local producer to sell his wears locally. There remains too few chili heads shopping local markets and main stream grocery stores are afraid of peppers that reach 800 times the heat of some jalapeno peppers.
Helping Small Business
Peppers by Mail supports cottage industry and small business. Please read our ChiliHead Reviews where we focus on products by small business. Even if you do not purchase their products, simply sharing our reviews will help promote those small businesses.
Why shop with us?
Because you love the underdog and we are no Walmart. We are not resellers. We produce what we sell. Today, even the larger well known pepper companies outsource much of their production. We outsource nothing and promote that buying local dramatically improves the community. In the age of the Internet, that locality is not just a matter of physical location but of ideological location. If you believe we should do our best to live in kinship with our environment, then we are your ideological neighbor.
When shopping online, you have three choices. There are the Walmart like super stores, there are the Walmart like resellers who pretend to be cottage industry, and then there are the real cottage industries. We are most definitely in that last category. So if you want to support cottage industry in this world of category killing super stores, you found the the place.