THE STORY OF HATCH GREEN CHILE
An Austrian immigrant turned Hatch into a chile capital in the 20th century. In the 21st, his great-great-grandson takes it high-tech.
IT’S JULY 2003, evening. Twelve-year-old Preston Mitchell sits in front of the blue Dell laptop that he carries everywhere. Far from his hometown of Hatch, on a father-son fishing trip in Montana, the naturally inquisitive kid Googles “Hatch green chile” to see what the Web has to say about the pepper that made his village famous. He isn’t impressed. The websites are clunky to navigate and offer overpriced chile. He thinks about his grandparents, Judy and Bob Berridge, who work hard hauling chile from Berridge Farms in Hatch Valley to bands of loyal customers in northern New Mexico.
Maybe there’s a way to reach more people, he thinks. With that, Preston sees an opportunity. Over the next two evenings, he maps out an Internet sales plan that would require a modest $300 investment. Then he calls his grandpa. “Papo,” he says, “I want to help you. I have an idea.”
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