Weis-Buy Farms imports colored pepper from the Dominican Republic. We import the pepper using our own "Tropical Jewels" label. The bell variety pepper is red, yellow and orange bells, and it is greenhouse grown in modern, sanitized, state of the art facilities up the mountains surrounding Santo Domingo, in the towns of Costanza and San José de Ocoa. Costanza is 3,800 feet above sea level, with an average high temperature in the 70’s (F) year-round; the last time Costanza had rare, freezing temperatures was in 1958. It has an oceanic climate with moderately warm and humid summers, and dry and mild winters, due to its tropical location and high elevation. The remarkable, consistent climate makes the area very desirable for growing vegetables. In San José de Ocoa, the altitude is 2,000 feet above sea level. Though not quite as elevated as Costanza, it is high enough to provide the attractive conditions for growing pepper.
There are several hundred pepper greenhouses spread throughout the region, often adjacent to the vegetable fields. Each greenhouse is made of high impact plastic - no glass is necessary. The pepper plants are placed in the ground of the greenhouse when they are about one month old. Then, at three months, pepper is ready for picking. The plants can grow well above 12 feet, and will provide pepper for seven to nine months.
In the packing facility, the pepper is placed on a conveyer belt and washed. It is then examined for size and quality; the size is a consistent extra large to jumbo. Thereafter, peppers are sorted electronically, and each pepper is individually run through a high-speed brush. Each pepper is then cleaned, and packed by hand. The boxes are volume filled 1-1/9 bushels, and there are 63 boxes per pallet. 11# boxes are also shipped with 100 per pallet. Twenty pallets are loaded on to a container, and the containers are taken by truck to the port in Santo Domingo.
The roads to Santo Domingo are narrow and winding; drivers must use extreme caution. These dangerous roads overlook the area below, and you can see the fertile valleys with farms carved out of every flat area.
Once in Santo Domingo, the container is loaded onto a ship for transport to the United States; it usually takes four days for a shipment to reach south Florida. Once the pepper passes all of the required inspections in the U.S., it is released and taken to our cold storage facility in Pompano Beach, Florida.