Rio Rico, Ariz.-based Fresh Farms is starting its seventh year in business with three new offerings and expanding its cucumber program.
Eggplant, green bell peppers and roma tomatoes are all in the lineup for the first time, said Jerry Havel, director of sales and marketing.
“We tripled the size of our cucumber program this year,” he said. Fresh Farms does hothouse and shade house cucumbers and is big on open-air pole growing cucumbers as well.
The company is owned by Grupo Molina. The Molina family is from Hermosillo, Mexico.
“Over the past six years we have grown steadily every year, and we expect that growth to continue,” Havel said. “The goal is to offer product from the beginning of the season all the way to the end, from October to May with steady supply, consistent quality and no interruptions.”
The expansion also is driven by customer demand for one-stop shopping.
Fresh Farms also grows green beans and, in the spring and fall, watermelon. But it may be best known for its squash.
The grower-shipper starts production of hard squash — butternut, spaghetti, acorn and kabocha — around Dec. 1 in Guaymas, Mexico. It transitions there after production on soft squash ends in Hermosillo, about an hour and a half to the north.
Fresh Farms started taking some extra steps with its soft squash this year. Most of its zucchini, yellow and gray squash is now in modified-atmosphere packaging.
“We experimented with it last spring, so this year we’re expanding it,” Havel said. “The take from buyers has been very good.
“What the modified-atmosphere bag does is basically extend the shelf life an extra seven to 10 days. That’s desirable when you’re selling to a client who wants to keep it in his cooler. It gives him flexibility on when he has to bring it out and sell it.”
In mid-October, the December squash crop was expected to be normally sized, barring weather events.