Chilli Challenge

Waltham Forest Chilli Challenge 2014

2014 saw the launch of Organiclea’s Chilli Challenge. A Food growing initiative, supporting primary and secondary schools in Waltham Forest to grow their own chilli plants, harvest the fruits and save th

e seeds.

A big THANK YOU to the 10 schools  took part! We provided them with the seeds, compost and some instructions for plant care. This meant roughly 60 students in the borough had the opportunity to grow chilli plants and saw how this we don’t have to rely on supermarkets to import this exotic fruit. Walthamstow, being a very spicy borough, could potentially be enjoying home-grown chillies year round.The chillies could be grown in pots or in the ground therefore including those schools without access to outside growing space.

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The Winners of the Chilli Challenge 2014

We have had an array of successes and have chosen winners in 3 different categories of the chilli challenge. Each winner will receive a fruit tree or bush of their choice to plant this winter in their school.

  • Willow brook Primary for sheer volume of chillies produced ,
  • Stoneydown Primary school for health and vigour,
  • Barncroft Primary School for most number of seeds saved.
  • South grove Primary School were the runners up and an honourable mention to Kelmscott secondary school for battling through despite the ill health of the plants.

The seeds we provided were Barak Chilli a slow growing but very abundant variety. Unfortunately this meant that most of the chilli plants had not produced ripe fruit by the Organiclea Chilli Festival on 29th September. However, those plants are still producing ripe fruit now and may well carry on until the New Year.


Chilli Challenge Outcome

We hope all students involved have seen how from just one seed, a well nurtured the plant can produce multiples of chillies and hundreds and thousands of new seeds. By making a small initial investment of time and care you can ensure fresh food for your elf and your community with seed saved for future use and sharing.

If we can grow our own food, we reduce our reliance on imported produce whose transport creates significant carbon emissions, whose growing space has often been created at the expense of important and declining natural habitats and whose specific chemical inputs we are ignorant of.

Waltham Forest had a rich heritage of food growing and we are working towards a rich future by supporting as many students in the borough as possible to experience food growing.

Chillies are often grown under glass and it is not well known that they can actually survive the winter and keep producing fruit as long as they are kept warm indoors. As the winter set in and the plants were sometimes repotted and brought inside the chillies colours started to turn through their rainbow of green purple brown and then bright red.


Now take part in Organiclea’s next food growing initiative…THE POTATO CHALLENGE!

Our vision

The borough of Waltham Forest can meet it’s own needs for chillis.  We believe in the power of the people, especially the power of the school student! 

Our aim is to give every school in Waltham Forest the opportunity to plant and nurture their very own chilli crop. You don’t need land and you don’t need money!  All you need is enthusiasm.

We can provide the equipment (seed, pots and compost). All we ask is for you record how many chillies your school managed to grow and save your seeds at the end of the growing season.

We would like to build a resilient and diverse chilli seed library in Waltham Forest that can be developed and accessible for years to come. To help make this happen, we ask you to return 50% of your seeds to Organiclea.

All students involved are welcome to be part of the annual Organiclea chilli festival in September 2014. All you need to do is fill in a short application form (see below) and you are in!

This challenge is part of Organiclea’s initiative to support more food growing in schools. Interested in growing more than chillis? We can help! We support primary and secondary schools to develop food growing spaces and food-based enterprises. Please contact us at or call Liz on 0208 558 6880


Page last updated on December 12, 2014 at 4:49 pm