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US: Wholesum officialy opens new greenhouse in Arizona

Wholesum Family Farms Inc officially opened last month, 30 miles north of Nogales, the commercial and logistical hub of North American produce. The family, leaders in organic produce, opened held ribbon-cutting ceremonies of its 12-acre Wholesum Harvest facility that employs 350. Among many guests was U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., who had just been elected to his fifth term in Congress.

Grijalva, whose district includes much of Santa Cruz County and western Arizona covers 300 miles of border, called the greenhouse a “wonderful investment for this region” and “one that we are all sure will be profitable and the start of something much bigger.” He praised the Crisantes family for its “entrepreneurial spirit and devotion to a family business that should be a role model for others.”

Tomatoes growing in Wholesum's new greenhouse (Twitter)

Wholesum’s primary organic products are greenhouse grown tomatoes, peppers and seedless cucumbers. In its shadehouses, Wholesum Harvest grows organic hard and soft squashes, hard squashes, bell peppers, cucumbers and eggplant. It also produces organic mangoes. The company’s organic tomato line is comprised of Roma and cherry tomatoes-on-the-vine, cherry, grape and beefsteak tomatoes. It produces in Mexico, Arizona and in California. Customers include small and large chain retailers, wholesalers, food service operators and industrial operations throughout North America.

The greenhouse is to be built in four phases and increased to occupy as much as 60 acres. It is at the absolute northern tip of Santa Cruz County, the smallest in size of Arizona’s 15 counties and one that is considered especially friendly to companies engaged in the produce industry. The initial greenhouse was built in just 11 months, a time period that could never have been met if the project were built in adjacent Pima County, home to Tucson and notorious for a slow and painstaking approval process.

The technology in the warehouse as the “highest productive installation you have today” and compared it driving a Maserati or Lamborghini. “If you aren’t good at making the gear shifts, it’s going to fail and cost you a fortune,” he said. Wholesum has a number of innovation awards for all 350 employees. “Certainly, we have computers, but they are not a solution. They are merely an aid and only matter if you set the right parameters. You are the one who needs to research and research.”

Technology used in this facility was provided by Kubo, of Monster, the Netherlands. Wouter Kuiper, CEO of Kubo, said the Wholesum facility is at the “absolute high end of all greenhouses” in the world today. Existing technologies could “not go any further,” he said, but this is just a start and we don’t even know where the ceiling will be.”

A half-dozen Dutch professionals worked on the project with Mexican and U.S. engineers. “This is really a family business,” he said. “In many ways, the Crisantes are conservative in their investments, but they are also willing to take risks. They are very studious, very calculated. They are going to be very successful in decades to come.”


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