In 2011, a group neighbors looking to improve their community, created a “guerrilla garden” on a set of abandoned railroad tracks in the industrial business zone of Long Island City. And what exactly is a “guerrilla garden”, you may be wondering. Let’s just say its a creative way of saying they didn’t have permission to come in and clean up the trash, clear out the weeds, and cultivate the soil. However, when they got caught for ‘trespassing’, they worked closely with the MTA to secure a lease and become a real-live non-profit. I mean come on, who wouldn’t want to spruce up some otherwise the formerly abandoned railroad tracks?
Today, Smiling Hogshead Ranch is an agriculture farm and community garden by day, and a social club and cultural venue by night. With a plethora of events and outreach, working with school groups and non-profit organizations aiding formerly incarcerated people, they strive to create a safer, green space within the sprawling urban jungle that is New York.
With a mission to create a culture that empowers and connects communities through ecology, education and collaboration, they could not be more aligned with what we are trying to do at Small Axe Peppers.
Learn more in the videos below:
It took a year and half for the original property owner, the MTA, to find out what they were doing. Fortunately, they liked the idea and extended a garden license to them, officially founding Smiling Hogshead Ranch. Since, they’ve grown leaps and bounds, inviting people onto the property who previously would’ve been trespassing to do so.
Their volunteers and members consist of the diverse, ad-hoc communities that are brought together for various events. Each Wednesday they have their weekly, community open hours and potluck. Everyone congregates to work side-by-side in the gardens before breaking bread over a nice dinner, featuring.. you guessed it.. some of their very own fresh produce.
Their partnership with Small Axe Peppers is through GrowNYC. Of the many vegetables they grow, some of the spiciest in the garden are the jalapeño peppers that we use for our Queens 7 Hot Sauce.
The folks at Smiling Hogshead Ranch couldn’t be more excited about helping to fuse the dynamic flavors of Queens, the most diverse county in the nation, into a product that is being sold around the country. What started as just a small local project is now apart of something that has truly nationwide reach.
Each bottle of Small Axe Peppers bought directly supports gardens such as Smiling Hogshead Ranch. Buy a bottle today and help us all grow their garden!