Three generations of the Crisantes family have been tied to the land and each other as they bring premium fresh organic produce to the marketplace. Wholesum Family Farms, which distributes fresh commodities under the “Wholesum Harvest” label through its warehouse in Nogales, AZ, has been committed to agricultural excellence for 80 years.
Miguel Crisantes Gatzionis moved to Mexico from Greece in the 1920s. His son, Don Miguel, started farming in Sinaloa, Mexico in 1930. Don Miguel Crisantes’ son, Theojary, transitioned the family’s farm to organic using sustainable practices.
“Theojary Crisantes, who has successfully passed his family’s organic farm and greenhouses on to his three sons, once defined organic practices simply as ‘a way of doing agriculture with common sense and with a deep understanding of the local ecosystem where you need to have a love for the earth and an ingenuity for growing, rather than abusing the earth with agrochemicals,’" the company website stated.
Vice President of Sales and Marketing Ricardo Crisantes said that Wholesum’s line of fruit and vegetables meets the highest organic standards. Three growers — Theojary Crisantes, Adrian Crisantes and Sergio Amezquita Tarriba — produce organic crops in key growing areas in Mexico.
Commodities under production are tomatoes on the vine, cherry tomatoes on the vine, roma tomatoes on the vine; beefsteak, grape and roma tomatoes; cucumbers; green, red and gold bell peppers; eggplant; Italian and hard squash; and mangos.
“Under glass, we have a total of 50 acres,” Ricardo Crisantes said Jan. 16. “[We have] 205 acres of protected agriculture mix of shade and plastic and 240 open-field acres.”
Mr. Crisantes was asked what innovative techniques Wholesum uses to produce a superior organic product. “The two areas that we are always innovating in [for] organic agriculture are nutrition and biological pest control,” he replied. “In nutrition, we are starting to deeply understand that it is not just about having the fertilizers present in the soil, but having the right biology in the soil that can help the plant assimilate these nutrients.”
To illustrate, he said, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are commonly used in fertilizer to promote plant growth.
“But plants only absorb about four to five percent of what is applied,” he continued. “Why? Because the roots can’t assimilate these nutrients in the current state. In organic agriculture, we see that you need to have the right biology in the soil — beneficial micro organisms — that can mineralize nutrients so that it is available in the root.”
Wholesum conducted the first harvest of organic tomatoes on the vine at its new facility in Amado, AZ, on Nov. 10, 2012. The facility, which will produce tomatoes on a year-round basis, created 60 new jobs.
The company markets commodities to customers on the West Coast and East Coast corridor from Boston to Washington, DC.
Wholesum Family Farms is a member of the Sustainable Food Trade Association. A medical assistance program is available to employees, and free medical clinics are available to seasonal workers. The company sponsors free daycare and schools for workers’ children and is a proud sponsor of Save The Children Mexico.