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Maker Stories

Small Axe Peppers is a mission forward company that makes delicious hot sauces partnering with community growers across 15 cities in America.

It all really started when I’d become interested in gardening...Portland has an eccentric charm that normalizes sights that are definitely odd. Free roaming chickens in tight downtown neighborhoods, casually walking in the rain without an umbrella, and shared sprawling backyard urban gardens to name a few.
I’m originally from the Midwest and growing up, all we really focused on growing was tomatoes. Once I got to grad school and a real house, I started a bigger backyard garden, expanding beyond tomatoes, to cucumbers, squash, corn, herbs, and peppers.
Rowan University President Ali Houshmand has planted his hot peppers, with help from students, volunteers and alumni. Like last year, he will spend time each early morning, watering, weeding and otherwise tending the produce. He’s willing to do a lot for his students, including raising money for scholarships.
I had been sitting on the idea since the early 2000’s, after making a few batches of sauces from the garden harvest. I was living with my uncle and godfather, Chris, and we would plant and tend to the garden.
It was a great experience growing up next to my grandfather. As a young boy, I was taught how to grow all kinds of vegetables, trees, roses, and fruit. He was a great gardener from Italy, and I tried to follow in his footsteps.
It all got started in 2014 when I started my first garden in my backyard. I had always liked peppers and wanted to try something different. So I looked around the internet and found the Carolina Reaper Peppers from Puckerbutt Pepper Company and I was hooked!