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Abuelo Organic Chiles set to resume processing in August


The business is called Mi Abuelo Organic Chiles because one of owner Robert Baca’s superheroes is his grandfather (abuelo), Ruben Baca, and because his chile is certified organic, which means it is free of herbicides, synthetic fertilizers and preservatives. They are also certified as Hatch chile.

“My family has been involved with chile all my life,” said Baca, who started working at age 13, doing maintenance on the family’s buildings and equipment.

Ruben Baca started Baca Chile Products in the early 1970s, Robert said. The family sold off the last of its chile-processing equipment in 2008, but Baca held onto the custom-built conveyor roaster made by his father, Rudy, another one of his superheroes.

Robert Baca started doing research in 2017 and filed for a patent based on the reconfiguring he had done with his father’s roaster design. He opened Mi Abuelo in September 2018 at 1447 Certified Place in Las Cruces, and after losing a year to Covid, is ready to begin production again in August as the local chile harvest begins.

Mi Abuelo already sells chile to Toucan Market and Save Mart in Las Cruces, and will be able to expand nationally and internationally with an SQF (Safe Quality Food) certification that is forthcoming, Baca said.

After gentle washing and roasting – there is no rotating drum that can tear and burn chile pods, Baca said – chiles are weighed by hand and vacuum-sealed for purchase and delivery. The product can be kept in a residential freezer for three years or longer.

“We oversee every aspect of the growing, harvesting, packaging and shipping process,” Baca said on the Mi Abuelo’s website.

Mi Abuelo’s new chile package contains a barcode that links to the company’s recipe page and Pinterest board that includes more than 300 recipes, Baca said.

Baca said he employs 16 people at Mi Abuelo’s, and that could increase once he has the SQF certification and expands production. In any case, Baca said he plans to keep the business in his native Las Cruces.

 A graduate of Las Cruces High School, Baca knows construction as well as he knows chile. His father, Rudy Baca, started Baca Construction in 1963, and Robert, born in 1969, had been accompanying his father to construction sites since age 5. Robert Baca started in business for himself at age 21 and is licensed as both a general and an electric contractor.

Baca and his wife, Kelley Watts, have a 4 ½-year-old son, Rylan.

“Facing challenges, finding solutions, implementing change, and striving for success has always been our family tradition,” Baca said on his website.

Visit organicchiles.com.