Greenhouse keeps jobs, product local

01/04/2013 12:40:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

Greenhouse operations offer workers more stability, according to growers.

“Sometimes agricultural labor is very seasonal,” said Ricardo Crisantes, vice president of sales and marketing, Wholesum Family Farms Inc., Nogales, Ariz.

Crisantes said that workers often have to move from area to area to follow the harvest, which doesn’t provide as much stability for their families.

“Because greenhouse produce is year-round, it also means we have year-round employees,” he said.

Crisantes said this opportunity for better work opportunities for employees is a key reason the community has embraced the company in their new location in Arizona. The company recently opened the first 12 acres of a 60-acre greenhouse project in Amado, Ariz.

Currently, the operation employs about 80 workers, but when the project reaches full size, that number will be close to 200, according to Crisantes.

“This is very different than typical season labor,” he said.

Of course, training those new crews to a new kind of agriculture is sometimes a challenge.

“We need to be able to train them so they can do the picking in a very efficient manner, so I think our first real challenge will be to train the new crews,” he said.

The company brought in some seasoned workers to help teach workers the best techniques and provide good examples to follow, according to Crisantes. Other workers traveled to Mexico to learn at the company’s more established locations.

“It helps them to see and work beside someone who has been there a long time,” he said.

Other companies also list stability for workers as a benefit to greenhouse operations, as well as the ability to provide local produce to consumers all year.

“We have seen the demand increase for local offerings, and for us that means greenhouse growing,” said Serena Leiterman, sales and marketing manager, North Shore Greenhouses Inc., Thermal, Calif. “That means all California jobs in our facility year-round.”

Leiterman said the company is proud to give consumers locally grown product year-round and they wouldn’t be able to do that with any other method than greenhouse growing.



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