Shanti Hot Pepper Fest: New location and new activities raising temperatures


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 


hot 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. “ 

eating hoit pepperThe 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 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.

Bhutanese Peppers TrioParticipants 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

Our Farm to School Kid in the Local News

Ramesh Mr Jones

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.

ABJ chess page

Chick Shtik Pilot Program at North High Flying High!

mom and chicksShanti 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!  isa brown chicks


SEE OUR Chick Shtik Flyer

Welcome to 2019…A Growing Season for Shanti!

truckWe 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!!! 👍

mowerbamboo fence trio

Hot Pepper Fest fires up Akron thanks to Shanti Farms

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!


August 10  Patterson Park  North Hill Akron

Event Rundown Gotta Read:
  • Hot Pepper Eating Contest Winner: Nikole Moore, Akron (pictured far right)


  • Hottest Locally-grown Pepper Winner: Chinta Mari and Phan Maya Karki (pictured far left standing)


  • Bamboo Splitting Competition Winner: Ms Mgo


  • Snake Gourd Dart Throwing Winner: Bista Jr. and Tom Crain


  • A Hot Thanks to our Major Sponsor: Melissa Moore, Community Caregivers, Cuyahoga Falls


  • A Hot Thanks to our Emcee: Christoper Green, PBS Around Akron with Blue Green


  • A Hot Thanks to our Hottest Pepper Judges: Stephanie Warsmith, Akron Beacon Journal; Blue Green, PBS; John Uhgrin, North Akron CDC; Rich Swirsky, Akron Councilman Ward One; Beth Knorr, Summit Food Coalition


  • A Hot Thanks to our wonderful volunteers and helpers:  Dave Moledor, Sarah Moledor, Reena Rizal, Tamana Rizal, Chinta Karki, Wes Mack


A Hot thanks to the media for your generous promotion of the event:  

Katie Byard, Akron Beacon Journal Feature Story

Carl Bachtel, WKYC TV3

Kristen Wunderle, FOX8 New Day




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Shanti Farm’s 2018 fundraiser features “hottest” event all summer long!

What’s so “hot”about it?

burning pepperWe believe that our garden produced the hottest pepper in all of northeast Ohio.  So, we are going to prove just that with a panel of gastronomical expert judges.  We’re taking on all challengers the night of August 3rd at Patterson Park to pick the hottest pepper.  hotpeppereatWe’ll soon be taking entries.

We’re also signing up contestants for a hot pepper eating contest and showing our supporters how fast and precisely we can split bamboo.  Then, we’ll have a bamboo splitting competition.

bamboo blueman

nepali food eatersAdding to all this excitement is a fantastic Nepali food sampler and an international dance  challenge for our guests.


What a great evening to celebrate a sizzlin’ summer in Akron!

Sign up now at:  Shanti Summer Celebration.

North Akron Market debuts on Cinco de Mayo Saturday May 5th

TNAMlogo-300x120he North Akron (Farmers) Market is a go!!!

Thanks to Shanti’s partners:  North Akron CDC, Hibernian Club and The Exchange House.  The goal is to create a community event in a shared space and encourage entrepreneurship among our neighbors.

The Market will run from 2pm to 7pm each Saturday starting May 5th through the summer until September 29th. We will hold it on the 761 Main St. lot just North of the Hibernians, across the street from Family Grocery behind the Exchange House.

Shanti will be heading up all responsibilities for food vendors.  Vendor applications are now available for the North Akron Market! We will be distributing and reviewing all the applications coming in for the Top 40 vendor spots. Training will also be available for all our vendor partners, including Akron Public School students.highland_square_1


We will be making classes and help available to first-time businesses and entrepreneurs. We even plan to start each month with live music, outdoor dining and festive special events!

Please join us as a vendor and/or visitor!!!  All are welcome!!!