“2020 was a year of adapting, but people certainly wanted to eat healthy and have access to organic foods,” says Joanna Jaramillo, marketing specialist at Wholesum. Wholesum operates three family farms – two in Mexico and one in Arizona – which produce certified organic and fair trade vegetables in greenhouses, shade houses, and open fields. Crops grown include tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, squash, and cucumbers. Wholesum also partners with organic farms which share the company’s sustainability values.
TOV, Squash and peppers, all packed sustainably
Growing those TOVs!
2020 in review
Wholesum recently released its 2020 Conscientious Company Report which details the company’s activities in 2020. In 2020, Wholesum added 37 acres of mid-tech greenhouse to its Wholesum Farms Pacific location in Sinaloa, Mexico. The company also added three partner growers, effectively expanding the Wholesum umbrella over an additional 209 acres. Altogether, Wholesum Farms brought more that 35,000 tons of produce to the market.
From a sustainability standpoint, Wholesum increased its renewable energy use by 7% and diverted 120 tons of plastic and cardboard from landfills. The company also continues to invest in organic growing technology and uses site-specific solutions to efficiently deliver organic produce year-round.
“For renewable energy, we look into what works best in different areas where we operate such as solar energy or biomass. We are also making efforts to increase the use of renewable inputs wherever possible. We can always improve upon that. We’ve recently launched a line of sustainable packaging which we’re excited about,” says Joanna.
2020 Expansion in Wholesum Farms Pacific
Ongoing expansion at WFS
Ongoing expansion at Wholesum Farms Sonora
Wholesum is very socially driven and has long been working SDGs 12 and 5, donating produce and making financial donations to various organization. In 2020, Wholesum donated 1.7 million pounds of produce and $23,000 to support social justice non-profits. The company also generated nearly $1.3 million in fair trade community development funds.
Expansion of Imuris greenhouse and distribution center
Whatever momentum Wholesum had in 2020, the company carried into 2021 and has been busy with expansion projects. Wholesum is currently expanding its high-tech greenhouses at Wholesum Farms Sonora in Imuris, Mexico. The new glass greenhouse will be state-of-the-art and highly efficient, using water recirculation and advanced environmental controls to reduce greenhouse inputs. The greenhouse is expected to be finished by Fall 2021. Further, Wholesum is expanding its distribution center in Arizona to accommodate the increasing amounts of produce. The expansion will be finished by August 2021.
“These expansions allow us to be a reliable supplier, to grow our customer base and to provide that customer base with more options,” says Joanna. She also explains that while the company hopes to expand its geographic reach, the demand for organic produce is very articulated in the Pacific US.
A peak in the WFP Packhouse
A planter that was built in front of the new kitchen as part of the “Healthy Start” volunteer project in 2019
Aside from expanding its production area, Wholesum is also eager to revamp its fair trade and volunteer projects once COVID restrictions are lifted. Joanna provided the example of a 2019 volunteer project wherein customers helped build a cafeteria and restore a classroom in a school across from one of the farms.
“These programs allow our customers to see the impact of fair trade and to see who benefits from our work. Now we’re thinking about what volunteer project could be next,” Joanna explains.