Co-founded by Dr. Paul W. Bosland in 1992, The Chile Pepper Institute is the only international, non-profit organization devoted to education and research related to Capsicum or chile peppers. Dr. Paul W. Bosland, Regents professor of horticulture, is popularly known as the “Chileman.” He leads the chile breeding and genetics research program at New Mexico State University. Dr. Bosland is recognized internationally as one of the foremost experts on Capsicum.
The Institute is located on the New Mexico State University campus, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA. New Mexico State University has the longest continuous program of chile pepper improvement in the world. The chile pepper improvement program began in 1888 with Fabian Garcia. All New Mexican type chile peppers grown today gained their genetic base from cultivars first developed at New Mexico State University.
This was simply a place I had to check out for myself, so I made my trek to Las Cruces, New Mexico. The natural landscapes surrounding Las Cruces are beautiful. There is so much to explore in this area, from White Sands to the Hatch Chile Festival. For this chile lover, this trip was one I’ll never forget.
We first drove into Las Cruces and noticed National Park signs, so we decided to check it out. Organ Mountain National Recreation Area a gorgeous desert area great for hiking, having a picnic or simply enjoying the scenery.
After checking into our hotel, we headed to the Chile Pepper Institute Visitor Center & Gift Shop located on campus in Gerald Thomas Hall, Room 265. This is the place to get information on tours of their Chile Pepper Learning Garden, purchase chile pepper books, pepper seeds, shirts, and sauces. Here I chatted with Adan Delval, the Institute’s Program Specialist and he offered to give us a personal guided tour of the Learning Garden the next morning.
The Chile Pepper Institute Learning Garden is located right by the Fabian Garcia Botanical Gardens and Gazebo. The Fabian Garcia Botanical Gardens are open to the public Monday – Sunday, from sunrise to sunset. 140 W University Ave, Las Cruces, NM 88005.
About NuMex Peppers: Nearly all pepper varieties from The Chili Pepper Institute bear the NuMex name. It signifies that this is a chili hybrid created at New Mexico State University. The University is continually trying to create beautiful tasty peppers that are more productive and disease resistant to things such as bacterial leaf spot disease, Root-Knot Nematode, Tobacco Etch Virus, Beet Curly Top Virus and more.
Tours: Visitors are welcome to visit the Chile Pepper Learning Garden on their own. Self-guided maps are free and are available in a mailbox at the front of the garden. Garden hours: 7 Days a week: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. The best time to see the garden is late July through late September.
For more educational guided tours with large groups of people, please call with at least 48 hours notice and make reservations by calling 575-646-3028 or email [email protected]. There are costs for large groups of guided tours. Please visit the site here for more info. If you have a fairly large group, please contact the Institute for donation pricing. Guided tours are available Monday – Friday.
Here’s some photos from my visit to the Learning Garden.