Above: Chantelle Wagner tends to the family's U-pick chile field. 

AT A NINE-ACRE FIELD in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, would-be farmers are on the hunt. Big Jim Farms offers the only U-Pick chile adventure in New Mexico. 

Now in its fourth season, the experience has taken off, says Chantelle Wagner, whose family operates the farm. “People make it a challenge to find the biggest chile,” she says. “It’s fun and kind of emotional. Chile has such a connection to New Mexico.”  

Choose from among five varieties, from mild to extra hot, with on-site roasting as well as other produce, including pumpkins, from early September (when the chile is green) until first frost in October (when it’s red). During the full growing season, the Wagners hold socially distanced volunteer workdays with presentations by wellness experts. 

“People love being out in the fields,” Wagner says. “They say it clears their heads.”

Big Jim Farms
4474 Rio Grande Blvd., Los Ranchos de Albuquerque; open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, September–October;  505-459-0719, bigjimfarms.com, and on Facebook (@bigjimfarms) 

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Read more from our "Ultimate Guide to New Mexico Chile"

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A 10-year effort to restore one of New Mexico’s most distinctive chiles underscores how memory thrives in our taste buds. 

José Gonzalez: The Allure of Chile Farming
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The Ultimate New Mexico Chile Tasting Guide
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The Making of Chile U
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Matt Romero: The Chile Roaster
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Rooted in Native Soil
Chile holds a very special place in the traditional foods of Southwest tribes.

Nick Maryol: Feeding the Soul
The owner of Santa Fe's Tia Sophia's, Nick Maryol understands how food creates ties to our families, our history and our culture.