And it was thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers, staff, worker young and old, students young and old and school, city and county officials who supported us!
A few of our accomplishments to highlight in 2019:
We moved our community garden to Columbia and Tallmadge Avenue to accommodate our new High Tunnel (unheated plastic-wrapped green house) and Headquarters building across Tallmadge Avenue from Jennings Middle School.
The new Community Garden–headquarters for our farm-to-school program– was plowed and planted for the first time with many crops including Shanti hot peppers, sweetcorn, snake gourds, mustard greens, Asian eggplant, green beans and tomatoes. We erected an outdoor classroom pavilion, a signature bamboo fence and youth garden on-site.
Our new high tunnel is one of the largest in the family of the Akron High Tunnel Initiative sponsored by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). We can’t wait to get the middle school and high school students working it after winter break!
We introduced a pilot program for 12-17 year old students and elders to assist us with outdoor maintenance chores on city vacant lots and over a dozen private residences, churches and businesses. About a dozen students and elders participated in our first time effort to work outside mowing, weeding, leaf blowing, tree and bush trimming and planting. We also participated in lot clean-up and farm chores, including barn and barnyard cleaning.
Shanti Farms was commissioned with maintaining over 30 city lots throughout the growing season with our new fleet of rider and push mowers, truck and utility trailer, weed whackers and blowers.
We partnered with Akron Public Schools to provide a farm-to-school summer camp for 40 kids( 6-13 yrs) complete with gardening, nature games and crafts, farmers market and math and reading tutoring. at Jennings Community Learning Center and Shanti Community Garden.
We broke ground for the new urban farm on North High School’s north side adjacent to the athletic fields. We even brought plow horses to till the initial ground and erected the metal fence in place for the two garden sections.
The Early Learning program at North High (nursery school) partnered with us to raise chickens in the classroom for the eventual livestock addition. The 40 pre-schoolers and 10 high school teachers aides loved it–even when it came time to cleaning the cage
More than 75 guests joined us in the Exchange House outdoor entertainment courtyard in August to celebrate the international harvest festivals of the new immigrants in Akron.
our emcee was our good friend and internationally-renowned award winning Nepali film director Binud Paudel. Martial arts demonstration, rotten tomato stomp, carnival games, dancing, farmers market, international foods picnic and of course our Hot Pepper Eating Contest were enjoyed by all!
Looking forward to 2020 with new grants, new customers and an expansion and enhancement of all our programs.
Contact us if you want to volunteer or partner with us!
to make a contribution to our upcoming programs and projects in 2020!
Namaste to all our family and friends in the new decade!
Who are growing the hottest peppers in Northeast Ohio, and quite possibly, in the entire U.S.?
It’s the Bhutanese immigrants planting their native chili peppers throughout the community gardens and backyard patios of Akron’s North Hill neighborhood
For immediate release— Akron, OH July 17, 2019 Akron’s largest immigrant population—the Bhutanese people estimated at nearly 6,000 strong– are also known as the main contributors to Akron’s rising recognition as the place to find the “hottest & spiciest cuisine” north of the U.S. southern border.
“It’s all due to the Bhutanese’s extravagant love of chili peppers,” says Tom Crain, co-founder of Akron-based Shanti Community Farms. “Since the Bhutanese are used to growing up eating super spicy foods and entering hot pepper eating contests as part of their modern food culture, we thought what better way to celebrate their culinary tradition than by featuring the Bhutanese signature food item through an eating contest and taste-testing competition at our upcoming summer fundraiser. “
The Shanti Community Farms fundraiser will be held Saturday, August 17 at The Exchange House in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood from 4-8 pm. The fundraiser will also feature bamboo splitting and snake gourd spearing demonstrations and contests which are also cultural festival traditions found throughout Bhutan. Registration is at eventbrite.com shanti-farms-hot-summer-celebration.
“Many of our gardeners are planting the original pepper seeds they brought from their homelands,” says Bhakta Rizal, co-founder of Shanti Community Farms that operates community gardens for immigrant and neighbor families in North Hill.
Rizal also recalls the Bhutanese summer markets where every stall featured huge piles of green and red chili peppers, with the occasional yellow pepper peeping through. “And the abundance of chili peppers isn’t just found at the Bhutanese markets,” he adds. “Most shops feature heaps of spicy peppers, and along the hilly roads, you’ll see red chilies laid out to dry on every rooftop like scarlet carpets. And in the rural valleys during festivals and prayer rituals, it’s impossible to get away from the odor of burning chilies. I believe the most likely reason for chili peppers’ predominance in the Bhutanese diet is the sensation of heat they provide during cold winters.
Participants at the community fundraiser can experience the hot chili peppers by eating traditional pepper dishes offered on the menu. They can also participate in the pepper eating contest and enter their pepper in the hottest pepper judging competition.
Shanti Community Farms, based in Akron, Ohio, is a non-profit that preserves the agricultural heritage of New Americans and empowers them to learn and earn from the local food economy. It operates educational urban farms, Yard Corps landscape maintenance division and youth education programs.
The Shanti Community Farms Hot Summer Celebration will be held Saturday, August 17 at The Exchange House in Akron from 4:00-8pm. For more information and to register, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/shanti-hot-pepper-fest-2019-tickets-61547978661
We are so proud of one of our leading farm to school kids Ramesh Chhetri recently featured on the FRONT PAGE of the Akron Beacon Journal, May 20th edition. He also mows for us, assists with chickens and gardens. Ramesh’s dad is an accomplished farmer who brought his expertise to Akron…and the Chhetri backyard is full of hot Bhutanese pepper starter plants! We hope to tap into the family’s farming expertise.
Shanti kicks off its Egg-citing Chick Shtik at North High’s ELP classroom thanks to a generous grant from Akron Community Foundation!
We are raising 8 baby chicks with the assistance of Kate Baker’s Early Learning Program classroom at North High. Our chicks are from the families of: Astrolorps, Brahmas, ISA Browns and Orpingtons
Thanks to North High student teachers including leaders–Danielle Dean and .Juliana Yafanaro–the chicks will be well cared for and the ELP kids will have a chance to hold and weigh and play (carefully) with the chicks.
At 3 weeks they are already growing by leaps and bounds. They are flying out of the observation box, perching on high branches, growing adult feathers and eating three bowls of chick starter growth feed a day!
Shanti’s goal: Get a chicken coop at every Akron school with chicks incubated and raised in the classroom! Egg sales at the Farmers Markets.
APS Third graders are currently benefitting from a chick incubation program that lasts a couple weeks. We want to add tailfeathers to this great program!
We are so excited about growing season 2019…with a new truck and landscaping equipment!! You may think we’ve gone dormant, but as Spring is arriving and temps soon to rise…we’ve been planting hot, hot, hot seeds in many places!! Stay tuned for our BAMBOO BUILDING, NEW HIGH TUNNEL, LANDSCAPING WORK CREWS, HIGH SCHOOL URBAN FARMING, and HOT PEPPER FESTIVAL announcements coming soon!!! 👍
Highlights from the First Annual Akron Hot Pepper Festival! It was a hot blast with standing room only! We hope to make this a tradition in Akron celebrating the Hot Pepper culture of the Bhutanese and other Asian and African immigrant groups settling in Akron!
A Hot thanks to the media for your generous promotion of the event: