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Fresh produce company enters into partnership to help students become farmers

With the future of America’s production agriculture in mind, one Los Angeles, Ca.-based company has entered into a partnership to help students interested in becoming farmers enter into that industry on the ‘ground’ level.

Giumarra Companies is partnering with the Glennville, GA-based Growing America’s Farmers Foundation ( to promote a case rebate program on multiple of Giumarra’s domestic Nature’s Partner products.

“Research shows that the average age of the American farmer is 58 and aging; at the same time, more consumers are going into grocery stores looking for locally grown product,” says Giumarra’s Kristina Lorusso. “Our partnership with Growing America’s Farmers allows us, along with our participating retailers, to grow locally in a tremendously meaningful way.”

Retail support
The partnership works like this: Giumarra sets aside a case rebate on select domestic products purchased by a retailer during a pre-determined one-month time frame. “All the retailer has to do is order the participating product from us, and put up a secondary display in their departments with signage supplied by Giumarra that explains the program” says Lorusso. “Giumarra will track the rebates on each of the items featured and at the end of the year, those monies will be donated to Growing America’s Farmers who will then work with the National Future Farmers of America Organization to distribute the funds, in the form of a scholarship in the retailer’s name, to local students in the retailer’s home state who are pursuing careers in production agriculture.”

While Giumarra tested the program last year with one of its newest commodities, Vidalia onions, this year it’s expanding to include multiple domestic products. “It’s a real way to stimulate your local growing economy,” says Lorusso.

Pre-season for Vidalias

The program is available on Nature’s Partner Vidalia Onions, which will be coming soon.

“Right now we’re ending up with our Peruvian sweet onion crop, which came in substantially enough that we were able to carry it through to the start of the Vidalia season,” says Lorusso. “The third week of April is the target date for first deliveries, but we’re waiting for confirmation.”

To date, supplies of sweet onions have been healthy, but a cold snap this year in Georgia may have an impact on supplies. “We’re watching the impact of that snowstorm in Georgia and on the onions in the ground at the time,” she says. “But right now, all signs point to a great Vidalia season.”

“Our Mexican season will be kicking into gear around the 19th of March. We look to have about the same volume as last year coming through our facility in Nogales, AZ,” says Lorusso.

Giumarra’s domestic supply, which will begin in May in North Florida, should show an increase in volume all through the southeast including Georgia and the Carolinas. 

Success with grafted watermelons
“Domestic watermelon is another of our items that is available under the Growing America’s Farmers program,” says Lorusso. While weather often dictates consumer demand – hot weather drives consumers into stores looking for one of their summer favorites -- Lorusso notes she’s also seeing more retailers interested in cut watermelon products all year round. 

“Our Mexican grower works exclusively with grafted watermelon and we’ve had great success with them because they really hold up well to the cut,” says Lorusso. That value-added cut fruit has helped demand for the fruit. “The demand from retailers for fruit to feed their in-store fresh cut programs is keeping demand strong for watermelon all year round,” she says.

Viva Fresh
Both commodities and more information on the program will be on display at Viva Fresh April 5-7 in San Antonio, Tex. “Viva Fresh is well attended with the best of the best in retailers. It feels more than just regional—it feels as if you get a draw from all over the country,” says Lorusso. “Yet, it’s intimate enough that you have time for one-on-one conversations, and the people who come to the show are eager to talk to you. It’s an open and friendly trade show.”

For more information:
Kristina Lorusso
Giumarra Companies
Tel: +1-414-510-2214

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