Soilful City’s Xavier Brown chops it up with Janell.
Solider, artist, and seed keeper of the famous Fish Pepper and Buena Mulata, Horace Pippin is one for the history books! Seeds of both peppers were given to H. R. Weaver from African American folk artist Horace Pippin in the 1940s in exchange for bee stings. Pippin was injured in WWI and would get bee sting therapy from Weaver in Westchester, PA. Pippin acquired the seeds from friends in the Baltimore and Philadelphia Black catering communities.
Decades later, Weaver’s grandson, William Woys Weaver, found Horace Pippin’s pepper seeds in baby food jars in his grandmother’s basement, 10 years after his grandfather’s death. After a fish pepper hiatus due to the decline of the fishing industry in the Chesapeake Bay, Will Woys Weaver reintroduced these heirloom peppers making them now available in dozens of seed catalogues and many Baltimore area restaurants. The all white fruits are used to flavor fish dishes, hence the name of the pepper.
The origins of the fish pepper (Capsicum annum, the same species as the Tabasco pepper) are mysterious, but it likely arrived in North America by way of the Caribbean. A possible genetic mutation caused the plant to produce the prized spicy, light-colored peppers. Enslaved Africans and African-American freedmen in Antebellum Maryland used the pepper to add an unanticipated heat to fish, shellfish, and even terrapin stew. While adding an undetected heat without muddying the color, the creamy, young green peppers were a prized “secret” ingredient in white sauces.
This season Soilful City collaborated with community growers from DC and Maryland to create a sauce that paid homage to seed-keeping, DC Culture, and Horace Pippin. All of the peppers used in the sauce were grown by black farmers and urban gardeners. The goal of this sauce is continue the legacy of the Horace Pippin fish pepper seeds while supporting emerging farmers. We are focused on creating a product that taste good , that honors that land and communities we work with and will be an economically viable product that can lead to economic sustainability.
Head over to the Soilful Store to get your bottle of Soilful’s Pippin Sauce.
Checkout Xavier’s recent presentation at FoodTalks DC in October. Guests were invited to taste-test our new Pippin Sauce made from the Fish Pepper. Enjoy! Soon we’ll be releasing the sauce for orders.
District of Collaboration, aims to explore ideas of how to create sustainable, inclusive, community centered development in the city of Washington, DC. Learn more about Soilful’s work in creating a better D.C.
Join us for the Afro-Ecology Series, conducted by Black Dirt Farm Collective and hosted by Dreaming Out Loud, Soilful City, and THEARC Farm. The series is part discussion, political training, and a community- and movement-building exercise — including work on a specific project that will help each partner site have a successful growing season.
The following is an excerpt from the first article of the series “People’s Agroecology,” featured on Why Hunger’s website. The articles are written by Blain Snipstal, a returning generation farmer part of the Black Dirt Farm Collective in Maryland. As part of the continuation of the 2015 Campesino a Campesino Agroecology Encounter led by farmworkers in the US, Blain visited four leading organizations in the US and Puerto Rico in this effort to learn more about challenges and current practices to advance their goals through Agroecology.
The place of Agroecology
As people in struggle, our causes, and our organized efforts do not exist in a vacuum. They are efforts that, taken into the historic contexts in which they appear, are created by and/or in response to the conditions of their time. It is within this vein that the articulation of agroecology in the US should be located, and as part of the 500 year (plus) process of struggle and resistance.
It is also critically important to situate agroecology as a tool for social struggle – that is, to use it to fundamentally change the relations of power in the food system and as way for healing of our Mother Earth, at local and national levels. It is not just a mere form of “Sustainable Agriculture”. To be clear, it is not about situating one word against another like permaculture versus agroecology, or sustainable agriculture versus biodynamic – to do so would limit the narrative to its ecological boundaries. It is about a series of ecological principles and values, the revalorization of local/traditional/indigenous knowledge, bringing dignity and vibrant livelihoods back to rural life and food systems labor, and a clear alternative to the industrial model of agriculture. Agroecology is a political and social methodology and process, as much as it is an ecological alternative to Agribusiness. This clarity is especially important given the current efforts by NGO’s, community based organizations and social movement organizations that are raising the banner of agroecology in the United States.
Read the full article on Why Hunger .