About Us

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Fire Tongue Farm is an 8 acre pepper farm in Santa Cruz, CA. Our goal is to grow a wide variety of flavorful, nutritious chile peppers for our customers to enjoy fresh and smoked. We are dedicated to maintaining a healthy environment on and around our farmland. We rotate our farmland between grazing sheep and growing peppers. We strive to build healthy soil, prevent erosion, protect wildlife habitat, and conserve water and other resources on our farm.

Fire-Tongue-Farm-Plant-Out-7Our Story

Fire Tongue Farm started in the winter of 2014 as the convergence of two friends’ ideas. Ryan was working in apple and pear orchards in Watsonville and noticing how much fruit wood was being pruned and burned each year in the fields. Wanting to find a use for all this excess wood, he thought he could grow hot peppers and smoke them with the valuable pear and apple wood from local orchards. Meanwhile, Levon had found 8 acres of fallow farm land that he wanted to cultivate. The two of them were college friends from UC Berkeley where they worked together as food managers for the Berkeley Student Cooperative. After graduating, Ryan studied sustainable agriculture at the UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden while Levon apprenticed at Green String Farm in Petaluma. The two met to catch up and talk about their recent projects and the idea for Fire Tongue Farm was born.

Fire-Tongue-Icon-2Our Mission

We grow a wide variety of the highest quality hot peppers for the Bay Area and Central Coast. We offer fresh and dried peppers, but are obsessed with the art of smoked peppers. We are in constant pursuit of the perfect smoked pepper and refining our techniques to extract rich, smoky, complex flavors from our different pepper varieties through an age old smoking process we have upgraded with a few modern technologies. The key ingredients are always the same though: quality chile peppers harvested at full, red ripeness, cured apple and pear wood smoked at low temperatures, and the hot California sunshine to finish them.

FTF-farm-5Our Farming Practices

Our farm is dedicated to sustainable farming practices. Our land rotates through winter cover crops, summer peppers, and alternating years of sheep grazing. This allows us to only disturb the soil a few times every year and not at all in grazing years. We apply water directly to the plants through drip tape and do not overhead water our fields with sprinklers. We select open-pollinated, heirloom varieties and choose to support small organic seed companies that promote a diverse genetic pool for future agricultural generations. We have a small tractor, but most of the work is still done by hand. Our goal is always to build better soil and conserve resources while producing a quality hot pepper.

IMG_20150309_144320513Our Smokehouse

Through help of a successful Barnraiser Campaign  we were able to build a fully functioning smokehouse at our farm. This involved adding a new roof, shelves for our peppers, and a controlled ventilation system.

Thanks for your interest and support! 

Levon Minassian & Ryan Silsbee