From lunchbox to dinner plate these Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers are the super sweet snacking pepper that kids crave and parents love. Get a glimpse inside our Leamington, ON Greenhouse and hear from Head Grower Isaak Fast on what it’s like to grow our Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers.
Isaak Fast, Head Grower at Pure Flavor Farms in Leamington, ON shares how his love for growing started as a summer job in the industry as a crop worker and has carried him through to his position today. Throughout his career his ambition and passion allowed him to work his way up through the greenhouse industry learning every aspect of operations. From crop worker, to the packhouse, shipping and receiving, and now growing, Isaak knows it all. Isaak joined Pure Flavor® six years ago but began growing in 2014. Today he oversees 824,000 Plants a year at our Leamington, ON farm.
- How do Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers grow? Explain the process of growing them this past year.
In January, we planted 154,000 small (approx. 14-16” tall) plants in compostable growing mediums. From the start of the growing process, we focus on building a strong root system and use an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) biological program, which means we use good bugs like Ladybugs, to fight off bad bugs, to keep away any nasty pests.
Soon after planting, the root system will break through the growing medium which strengthens the core of the plant which will then in turn, produce heads on the plants. As a rule of thumb, we keep 3 heads per plant to increase the plant density. After the heads on the plants are established, we focus on creating the ideal fruit setting, when flowers on the plant become fruit. This is done by ensuring proper water allotment and controlling the nighttime and daytime temperatures. From here, nodes grow on the plants, and at every node there is a side shoot that grows off the main stalk. We let 2 to 3 nodes grow before we remove the side shoot. This is done so we have more fruit setting and a bigger leaf canopy to shade the fruit from the direct sun light. Yes, there is a science to growing better fruit.
2. Are Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers sustainably grown?
Yes! Greenhouse grown vegetables use innovative technologies to produce more vegetables with less impact on the environment. To water and feed our peppers, we use a closed loop irrigation system which allows us to give each plant the exact amount of water it needs, precisely when it needs it. Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers grow vertically, which results in a smaller footprint with more plants…and peppers in the greenhouse! Each plant is grown in a recycled natural growing medium such as coconut husks, which are composted at the end of the growing season.
3. How tall do Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Pepper Plants actually grow?
During the growing season, the plants will grow upwards of 4 meters (in excess of 12 ft) tall! As the season progresses, our teams go through the crop to wind the plant around a vertical string every other week to assist them in stretching for the sun as they need natural light to produce the best fruit they can.
4. How are the pepper plants fed?
During the growing process, each plant has a dedicated dripper that supplies the water & plant nutrition it needs to grow strong. What is unique about this is that we can monitor and provide dedicated nutrients at the exact time the plant needs it. A sensor in the growing substrate shows us the time the plant is drinking and how much it is drinking, so that we know exactly what to feed the plant. Whatever the plant does not consume gets recycled back into the system so there is no waste.
5. How large is the Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers crop that you are working with? How many peppers does the crop produce?
We currently have 11.5 combined acres of Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers planted which equates to approximately 154,000 pepper plants. It takes about 7-8 weeks for plants to produce peppers that are ready to be picked so that means our crop produces about 20,790,000 mini peppers every year!
6. What is the ‘season’ for Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers? Are they grown year-round?
As a company, we grow Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers year-round; our family of growers ensure that we have a consistent supply, regardless of the season. That’s the beauty of greenhouse grown produce; grown indoors ensures that we provide the optimal climate for all of our crops and are removing the seasonality so you can enjoy fresh Pure Flavor® vegetables 12 months a year! We are always in season!
7. What is special about Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers?
For me, the taste. Hands down.
Nothing beats the crunch & flavor of the Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers. This is the first year we have planted Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers at this farm specifically, and we are learning how their consistency makes them fun to grow. By providing the right amount of light, water, heat, and nutrition, we are giving the plant every reason to produce great fruit; consistency in size, color, and most importantly flavor is key to growing a great product.
8. What is your favorite way to eat Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers?
Right off the plant! They are the perfect snack – super crunchy and delicious. We grow red, yellow, and orange and I know I’m not supposed to have favorites, but I tend to like the orange ones the best! When I am at home, I like them raw, or in a salad, even slicing them down the middle and put them on the grill.
9. Why do you like growing them?
Simply put, they taste great! They are consistent and fun to grow so quality control is easy. As a grower, I love to be challenged; working with plants is a very interesting career path and given that we grow so many different types of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, I get to encounter so many different growing environments that I get to learn something new all the time and get to pass that knowledge on to my team.
10. Any fun facts about Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers?
Most people don’t realize how little water mini peppers need to start growing! On average, Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers only receive water once a day when they are first planted which is much lower than the other commodities we grow. This will increase when the crop is producing and fully grown. Also, in comparison to other vegetables, we can grow about 3 times more Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers per square meter, it’s like they are constantly multiplying!
To learn more about Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers, click here!