Hot Peppers Becoming a Cash Crop for Bronx Community Gardens

The bright-green stalks and leaves are tended by a dozen teenage boys who water, lay mulch, pull weeds and wait.

If all goes well, more than 300 pounds of serrano peppers will be harvested in August from the Brook Park community garden in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.

Then they will be sold to a New York City-based hot sauce maker for $4 a pound, the proceeds of which will fund small stipends for the teenagers.

“You already feel good taking care of plants, and for you to get paid for it is even better,” Donnell Matthews, 18, said

The resulting product, Bronx Greenmarket Hot Sauce, has become a staple at the city’s farmers’ markets, and in the shops and restaurants on Arthur Avenue, including at the Bronx Beer Hall, which serves it with crispy-battered dill pickles, French fries and burgers. Since May, the olive-green sauce has been added to the shelves of the Whole Foods stores in Union Square and TriBeCa, with more locations in the works; a five-ounce bottle sells there for $6.99.

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