Black Gold Farms earns certification

Grand Forks, N.D.-based Black Gold Farms recently received a gold level certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to recognize companies’ efforts toward environmental conscientiousness and energy efficiency.

The certification comes almost two years after the company moved into its new, more energy efficient headquarters.

The company is the only the third privately owned building in North Dakota with LEED certification, said Eric Halverson, executive vice president of technology for Black Gold Farms.


CHEP USA joins sustainability group

Atlanta-based CHEP USA joined The Sustainability Consortium’s packaging sector working group and transportation committee.

CHEP will work with industry, civil society, academic and government experts representing $2.4 trillion in revenue to improve product sustainability across the consumer goods industry, according to a news release.

“Sustainability is one of our shared values at CHEP and is reflected in the pallets that we use and our pooling business model, which offer significant sustainability advantages,” Vishal Patell, vice president of retail supply chain solutions for CHEP USA, said in the release.


Earthbound marks 30th anniversary

This year marks Earthbound Farm’s 30th anniversary. After 30 years, the organic grower continues its commitment to sustainability in a number of ways.

“Being organic farmers, that is the focal point — being green,” said Samantha Cabaluna, vice president of marketing and communications.

San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based Earthbound continues to keep about 16.5 million pounds of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides out of the environment each year, Cabaluna said.

What started out as a 2½-acre organic farm has become America’s largest organic produce producer, with 48,000 acres of land.

Earthbound’s clamshells are also made out of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. Cabaluna said its process of creating the clamshells uses 90% fewer resources.


Limoneira designs worker community

Limoneira Co., Santa Paula, Calif., has had sustainability practices in place for more than a century, and is extending its efforts into the surrounding community, according to the company.

Limoneira employs a variety of sustainability practices, including using solar energy, soil conservation and recycled mulch. It also recently created the Santa Paula East Area One planned community to provide farm worker housing, according to the company.

The development allows residents to work near or in the community and also provides retail and recreational opportunities, according to the company.

Limoneira also provides funds for educational and community programs.


Ocean Mist grower helps curb nitrates

A grower for Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms has been working with scientists to develop a water treatment system that can remove almost 100% of nitrates from the water.

The system is in the testing stages.

Afreen Malik, director of technical services for Ocean Mist, said that it is exciting news not only for the company, but also for the community in the Salinas Valley.

“This nitrate issue in the Salinas Valley is not just problematic for one grower or even only growers,” Malik said.

“Water sources are very limited and very precious. The community is dependent on a clean and reliable water source. Finding a solution, if it passes through all the hurdles ... would mean something amazing for everyone.”


Organics Unlimited drills banana wells

San Diego-based Organics Unlimited is drilling wells on banana farms, said president Mayra Velazquez de Leon.

“This provides a more consistent supply of water throughout the year without being as reliant on seasonal rains,” she said.


Mastronardi rolls out Eco Flavor Bowl

Kingsville, Ontario-based Mastronardi Produce recently launched the Eco Flavor Bowl, a packaging system.

It uses top-seal technology to keep flavors fresh, according to Daniela Ferro, communications coordinator.

The 1½- and 2-pound bowls use 20% less material than traditional clamshells and are sealed with a high-graphic film.

Made of at least 70% post-consumer recycled materials, Ferro said the bowls are 100% recyclable.

The company is also expanding its Coldwater, Mich., greenhouse used for year-round tomato production.


Ratto Bros. works on emissions goals

Ratto Bros.’ most recent sustainability concern has been dealing with California’s emissions rules.

Ratto Bros., based in Modesto, Calif., has been working on converting cooling units and reefer trailers to match California’s emissions standards.

“The emission control standards are getting higher all the time,” vice president of marketing Frank Ratto said.

“Ratto Bros. is investing in clean air technology which exceeds today’s requirements.”


Stemilt’s new office saves energy

Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers LLC moved into a new, more energy efficient building in late April.

The lights in the new offices are run on a motion sensor, which will cut down on energy costs. Brianna Shales, communications manager, said the company hasn’t yet started calculating how much energy it is saving with the new lighting system.

The building, which is only about a mile from the previous office, has also implemented an in-line water cooler system so the company will use less plastic.


SunWest highlights sustainability efforts

SunWest Fruit Co. is launching an updated website,, that will showcase its produce, family traditions and commitment to sustainability.

SunWest, which started as a family farm more than 40 years ago, is one of California’s major citrus and tree fruit producers.


SureHarvest advises on sustainability

Soquel, Calif.-based SureHarvest is continuing to offer sustainability advice to members of the produce industry with its 5 P’s of Sustainability.

Created last year, the 5 P’s of Sustainability help SureHarvest’s clients build sustainability strategies.

“With clients, we go in and help really look at their ability to improve capabilities and look at different sustainability process areas,” said Melanie Beretti, director of business development for SureHarvest.


Village Farms starts energy project

Village Farms is in the process of acquiring British Columbia-based Maxim BC, a subsidiary of Maxim Power Corp. The sale should be completed between June 30 and August 29.

Delta, British Columbia-based Village Farms is also working on a new quad-generation energy project. Along with Quadrogen Power Systems, Village Farms will use the quad-generation project to convert landfill waste to generate electricity, thermal heat and carbon dioxide for greenhouses.

The acquisition of Maxim BC will help the company incorporate the co-generation operation that has been in place since 2004. The operation will continue to convert methane gas from the Vancouver landfill to product electricity.

With the systems, Village Farms will use less energy and decrease its reliance on fossil fuels, said Doug Kling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer.


Wholesum launches redesigned site

Nogales, Ariz.-based Wholesum Family Farms, owner of the Wholesum Harvest brand, relaunched its website,, with an easily navigable interface, fresh content and better functionality on mobile devices, according to a news release.

The website includes information about Wholesum Harvest’s commitment to organics, sustainability and social responsibility.