by Dave Sands, Produce Team
Dave Sands with greenhouse manager Primo at Divine Flavor in Hermosillo.
When the fields up here in the north slow down during our cold season, it’s nice to know our neighbors to the south have our backs.
Last March, I had the opportunity to visit several certified organic and fair trade certified farms in the state of Sonora in Mexico. I was impressed and inspired with the overall quality of these operations and the way they treat their workers. I saw firsthand the positive result of fair trade premiums in the communities near the farms—child care facilities, a tortilla factory and mini mart that sells to farm workers at cost, a full-service dental and medical facility, and even a few soccer fields—all paid for by fair trade premiums.
Well, what is fair trade anyway? According to the Fairtrade USA website: “Fair Trade Certified products were made with respect to people and planet. Rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards work to promote safe, healthy working conditions; protect the environment; enable transparency; and empower communities to build strong, thriving businesses. When you choose products with the Fair Trade label, your day-to-day purchases can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives.”
During the winter months many of our vegetables, like cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes, come from Mexico and we choose to look for Fair Trade certified product when possible. Typically these run a few more cents per pound in cost to us. These few cents per pound really add up when we are talking truckloads going to stores all over the U.S. that choose fair trade.
Organic Brussels sprouts at Covilli Brand Organics in Empalme.
Many of the farming areas we visited in Mexico are home to large seasonal migrant populations, despite a lack of existing infrastructure. We saw some of the ways in which fair trade premiums contribute to the quality of life for these workers and communities.
We sell the certified organic vegetables that these farmers pick, and have always been impressed with the quality.
At the Divine Flavor grape orchards, dorms are being remodeled to provide more space per person per room. Near the town of Guaymas, the workers at Covilli Organics were close to finalizing plans to build a play area for their children. Wholesum Harvest near Hermosillo showed us the area where they are dividing tracts of land to offer housing to returning workers, so they may own their own piece of land within walking distance to work, the soccer field, and the at-cost tortilla factory and mini mart.
We sell the certified organic vegetables that these farmers pick, and have always been impressed with the quality. It was an honor to enrich my perspective and see the whole supply chain in person.
As impressive as the commitment to the social and economic side of things is, the commitment to growing clean, certified organic products was also great to see. These farms were spotless and used very modern growing methods that take care of the land and the water source.
The more acreage that gets converted to organic farming in Mexico, the better. That’s why we support our farm partners in Mexico and wish them all the success in the world.
Dave’s tour group suited up as per requirements to enter the On the Vine tomato and English cucumber growing rooms at Wholesum Harvest.