Revelstoke's Stoke the Fire hot sauce company relocating to Similkameen Valley

Spicy lovers find local farm

A saucy Revelstoke business is now bringing its heat to the Similkameen.

Stoke the Fire, a homegrown hot sauce and pepper company, is picking up its stakes and moving to farmland in Cawston to put down new roots.

Owned and operated by partners in life and business, Stu Smith and Sarah "The Sauceress" Harper, the company has grown from a basic backyard garden operation into an urban farm and small batch sauce-bottling enterprise, picking up steam in recent years and seeing bottles at farmers markets and on retail shelves all over British Columbia.

"We've kind of hit our point where this thing has has gained quite a lot of momentum and we want to follow through with it and see it into the next chapter," Smith explained.

The couple grow all their own peppers for the sauces, and that has proved a challenge in Revelstoke.

"It's something that I've kind of mastered and been able to be quite successful with, but moving to a climate that is going to be more beneficial for us growing and a community that is more agriculturally-minded is kind of a big move for us too," Smith said.

That's where Cawston comes in. Smith and Harper looked all around the Okanagan and surrounding areas before falling in love with a seven-acre farm in the rural community near Keremeos.

They have already started moving in, preparing for spring planting and getting the greenhouse up and going, while their Revelstoke property is up for sale.

Smith describes himself as the farmer of the twosome, whereas he leaves the sauces up to Harper's creative mind. Their journey together in the business has been a leap of faith.

"It's been so much fun to see this thing grow," Smith said.

"I leaped off from a pretty stable career job that most people might be reluctant to move themselves away from, so I moved into this with the kind of thought that we would rather give it our shot and try it with all of our best efforts and risk failure opposed to 20 years down the road hearing that voice in the back of your brain 'Maybe we could have made it work.'"

The welcome in Cawston so far has been everything they hoped for. They have already made potential connections with other nearby agricultural businesses, and are looking forward to forging more.

That said, Revelstoke will always be special to the pair as the birthplace of their dream.

"On the labels it will say founded in Revelstoke and then grown and produced in Cawston, you know, so we're still retaining our roots of the business," Smith said.

And the bottles will still retain their signature logo — a hot pepper in love with a head of garlic, meant to represent Harper and Smith themselves.

"It's a spicy love story and it's one of those things that sounds dorky or cheesy but it's so easy to stand behind that because it's genuine and sincere," Smith said, adding he hears all the time from customers that they appreciate the story behind the sauces.

"It's been one of the most profound things I've ever done in my life, actually."

Stoke the Fire is working on getting up and running in Cawston and hopes to be able to welcome guests to the farm when they are operational, and in the meantime, they are still on shelves and online.

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