Growers within a 300-mile radius of Groveland, Fla., will have a new potential buyer for their best and less-than-best produce as Gaballi LLC and OrganicaWorld redevelop a 240-acre multi-purpose site.
Colin Farnum, president of the sister companies, said he expects construction to begin around the end of September. The site includes a 20-acre greenhouse, formerly used for orchids, and 150 open-field acres for fresh produce crops.
A new plant on the site will include sections for individually quick-frozen and canning operations to help Gaballi and OrganicaWorld meet their mission of providing low-cost food while enabling them to minimally process culls from regional growers who might not otherwise have a buyer for less-than-perfect produce.
All operations at the site are expected to be in full production in 2013.
“The whole premise for the companies is to lower the cost of food by eliminating the middle man,” Farnum said.
The greenhouse in Groveland is a first for Gaballi, which plans to sell all of the produce grown there and on the 150 acres around the greenhouse direct to consumers. The Groveland operation will supplement the produce Gaballi buys from regional growers.
“We pay fair market value to our growers,” Farnum said, adding that Gaballi doesn’t require organic certification, but does require that growers use organic practices. The greenhouse and growing fields in Groveland will use organic practices, Farnum said.
Farnum said OrganicaWorld handles the growing side of the work and Gaballi does the distribution side. Incorporated in September 2011 in Florida, Gaballi already has a network of more than 450 distribution sites, mostly concentrated along the East Coast but stretching as far West as Benton, Kan.
“Gaballi believes everyone should have access to a variety of wholesome, nutritious fruits and vegetables,” proclaims the company’s website, which states consumers can save between 30% and 70% on their food bills by buying directly from the company.
Internet orders are custom-packed and distributed to one of Gaballi’s non-profit partners, which include schools, churches, Goodwill centers, youth centers, etc.
Farnum said using non-profits’ locations helps keep the costs of food low. Gaballi contributes one dollar per order to the pick-up sites to help them with their expenses.