Meet SAGES' Learning Partner is a monthly segment showcasing the valuable people, businesses, and groups who contribute to the success of our school. This month, we're featuring Mr. Tim Csiacsek — a man who introduced us to a very special "sweet" heirloom pepper!
Mr. Csiascek, known by many as the “Beaver Dam Pepper Man,” is passionate about peppers, but not just any pepper — the Beaver Dam Pepper! We first met this pepper expert in September 2016, when SAGES participated in the 3rd Annual “Beaver Dam Pepper Festival.” Mr. Csiascek was staffing the “History” booth cutting ripe, red Beaver Dam Peppers into thin strips for tasting. As he did this, he was sharing everything pepper — how to cut the pepper to avoid heat from the ribs and seeds, recipe ideas, how this year’s crop was looking. In talking with him further, we learned he had a personal connection to this Hungarian pepper. In 1921, his grandmother, Anna Csiacsek, at age 15 immigrated to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Among the few items she selected to bring with her for this long journey from Hungary was a bundle of pepper seeds.
That same fall we had met, Mr. Csiacsek agreed to come and talk to SAGES’ 4th, 5th, and 6th graders and share his passion for peppers, as well as explain more about how this heirloom seed arrived in the US. Later that school year (spring 2017), Mr. Csiacsek let us know he wanted to donate a couple flats of Beaver Dam Pepper plants he had started from saved seed. After Memorial Day, those plants were put in SAGES’ School Garden, plus two seedling plants were given to each learner in 4th grade to grow at home. Mr. Csiascek didn’t simply provide the plants, he also worked with him employer to take some time off to come to SAGES’ planting day and provide planting guidance. Among his different tips, he recommended putting two plants in each hole to allow them to support each other throughout the growing season. Beyond helping plant, he gave SAGES two scarecrows he made to “protect” the pepper crop.
From our first meeting through present, Mr. Csiacsek has continued to share his passion for Peppers with SAGES. In fall 2017, he provided saved Beaver Dam Pepper seeds for SAGES to bag up and sell at the Beaver Dam Pepper Festival. Also later that fall, he came back to help the former 4th graders turned 5th grade, take the Beaver Dam Peppers harvested from our school garden and turn them into “Stuffed Beaver Dam Peppers” perfect for freezing and eating on a winter day. Since then, supplying us with saved seeds, as well as a few flats of Beaver Dam Pepper plants for our 4th grade class, and taking time away from his workplace to assist on planting day seems to have become an annual tradition!
Mr. Csiacsek, thank you for sharing your passion for growing and enjoying the Beaver Dam Pepper with our learners. We’re honored to carry on this special family tradition that started and continues by saving seeds!
"Meet SAGES' Learning Partner" is a special monthly segment showcasing the valuable people, businesses, and groups who contribute to the success of our school. To view past Learning Partners, visit SAGES' website at www.waupun.k12.wi.us/o/sages/page/our-learning-partners.