The Kampot region is internationally famous for pepper. A great trip for any visitor in the area is to an organic pepper farm where they strive not just to grow some of the world’s best pepper but to educate people about the spice.
It is a spice that is all too often taken for granted but anybody trying fresh peppercorns for the first time straight from the pepper vine will certainly experience a new flavour entirely.
The Kampot geographic region is so famous for its pepper production that it was recently given international geographical recognition, meaning pepper sold as Kampot pepper must come from the region. This was the first officially protected geographical appellation for any Cambodian product.
A geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess certain unique traits, qualities or a reputation that are unique to that origin. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production.
These stringent guidelines are applicable to Kampot pepper and therefore it is now a protected geographical product internationally.
Sothy’s Organic Pepper Farm
Sothy’s Organic Pepper Farm is located approximately 16 kilometres from Kep town and 35 kilometres from Kampot town. It will take you about 20 minutes from Kep and 35 minutes from Kampot in a tuk-tuk and cost you $20 and $30 respectively.
On the farm, you can enjoy a free tour that will start with a tasting session in the farm’s open-air restaurant. This is the first time most visitors will have tried fresh and some of the more unusual pepper varieties that Sothy’s has to offer. The restaurant also serves a delicious menu all cooked with locally sourced fresh seasonal food.
You will be shown around by a very informative English speaking guide who will walk and talk you through the differences between red, black, white and fresh green peppercorns.
All the varieties are grown from the same type of pepper plant with the difference coming from the degree of ripeness before it is picked. The different ways in which the peppercorns are processed also create a dramatic difference in taste.
It is worth noting that Sothy’s Pepper Farm also advertises guides speaking German, Spanish, Vietnamese, Japanese and Khmer.
The next stage in the tour is to see the pepper berries being dried under the warm Cambodian sun. You will be shown the various constructions used to support the growing pepper vines and talked through the finer horticultural points needed to grow high-grade organic Kampot pepper.
You will also learn about the huge variety of other crops the farm produces including mango, papaya, durian and rambutan and the organic methods used to grow them. These include growing lemongrass, chilli and other herbs around the pepper vines to help ward off insects and other pests.
The tour lasts roughly 45 minutes in total and will eventually lead you back to the farm shop located to the rear of the restaurant. There is certainly no pressure to buy but the tasting session coupled with the tour will leave you salivating to buy a sample. Of course, Kampot pepper, especially organic Kampot pepper costs more than cheaper alternatives grown elsewhere. However, anybody who has tried Sothy’s pepper will agree that the pepper’s rich, complex flavour is in a world of its own and worth every cent!