“Wholesum Family Farms is owned by the Crisantes family who has been growing and producing and selling produce for three generations,” said Anthony Totta, marketing and business development consultant for the Nogales, AZ-based company.
The company, previously known as Cris-P Produce, was founded by Miguel Crisantes Gatzionis who, according to the company website, emigrated from Greece to Mexico in the 1920s and started farming in Sinaloa, Mexico, in 1930.
For the past 22 years, the company has been growing produce organically, Mr. Totta said.
According to the website, “Don Miguel’s son, Theojary Crisantes, became an organic farming pioneer in Sinaloa. After completely transitioning the family’s farm to sustainable practices, Theojary Sr. now oversees a successful transition of the family’s organic farms to his three sons: Theojary, Ricardo and Adrian.”
“Two-and-a-half years ago, we changed the name [of the company] from Cris-P Produce to Wholesum Family Farms, and the product brand from ‘Natura’ to ‘Wholesum Harvest,’ ” Mr. Totta said. “We market those under ‘Wholesum Harvest’ because our passion is to use sustainable practices to grow organically and sell nutritious, healthy food.”
The company website states, “Wholesum Harvest fruit and vegetables are all certified-organic according to the stringent standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program. Regular assessments on our farms by a San Diego-based inspection agency inspectors from San Diego, CA , verify that we are always fulfilling certified organic standards.”
This year, however, the company has added yet another certification, which Mr. Totta regards as one of the two main highlights of the year’s achievements. “We have become Fair Trade-certified with everything we produce outside of the United States,” he said. “We are excited about that, because we have customers who are marketing our products as Fair Trade-certified because the consumers who shop their stores are happy to support that.”
The vision statement of the certifying organization, Fair Trade USA, states, “We seek to empower family farmers and workers around the world, while enriching the lives of those struggling in poverty. Rather than creating dependency on aid, we use a market-based approach that empowers farmers to get a fair price for their harvest, helps workers create safe working conditions, provides a decent living wage and guarantees the right to organize. Through direct, equitable trade, farming and working families are able to eat better, keep their kids in school, improve health and housing, and invest in the future ... keeping families, local economies, the natural environment, and the larger community strong today and for generations to come.”
The other big thing that has happened at Wholesum this year, as reported previously in The Produce News, was the opening of a new 12-acre state-of-the-art greenhouse facility in Amada, AZ, 30 minutes north of Nogales. “Recently, we did the ribbon cutting” for the new facility, which incorporates “the latest technology in greenhouse growing,” Mr. Totta told The Produce News. “We grow in organic material, and we feed the plants with organic nutrition.” The facility has enabled Wholesum to increase production “to meet the demand for certified-organic vegetables.”
At that facility, the company is growing tomato products, he said.
Wholesum Family Farms also has organic growing operations throughout Mexico. Among the company’s main products are hard squash, soft squash, bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplant and mangos.
“Wholesum Harvest” products are packed both in bulk cartons and in clamshells. “We are just now introducing … merchandising support” in the form of fold-up corrugated retail merchandisers that will allow retailers to place the products in store lobbies or in tie-in displays with “a modular display piece,” Mr. Totta said.
Along with that, the company has new value-added retail packaging. “We have just ordered our first order of re-sealable bags that we can put vegetables in,” he said. The gusseted stand-up style bags enables customers to take a bag of “Wholesum Harvest” vegetables home, take some out, and re-close the bag. The bags will have QR codes on them that consumers can scan to see “our recipes and some of the other stuff we have to offer them.”