When the Organic Box started out the goal was to bring locally sourced and organic produce, meat, and all of your grocery needs right to your door. For almost 10 years we have supported our local Alberta producers first and foremost, but during the winter months or for certain produce that we cannot grow in Alberta, we look first to British Columbia and then, south over the border to fill the need. We don't decrease our devotion to our values when we source from producers outside of Alberta. We use our hierarchy of values to ensure that we are still having a positive economic impact on the local community that surrounds the farms among a multitude of other factors. You learn about all of the values that we have when it comes to starting a partnership with a new producer in our 'Values at The Organic Box' post.
Every year members of our team are sent out to visits some of our Food Family Producers outside of Alberta. We do this to ensure that we are keeping the connection to our producers tight-knit and that we are growing better together. This year we had members from our team go to Mexico, BC and in the past, we have gone to Peru, and California. In 2018 Matt Paulson (Co-President) made the journey to Mexico twice to visit a number of our Food Family producers. We have put together some pictures from his most recent trip in December together for you!
Ecocampos is owned by Gustavo Gaya and his family. The farm is located just north of Mexico city and is spread out over 240 hectares of land and it has been in his family for years, however, he has been farming organically on the three pieces of land for 7 years. He has grown his operations to include a few ranch hands and 500 employees. Everyone who works on his farms are from the surrounding indigenous communities nearby the farm. All of his employees are paid above the minimum wage and work in suitable conditions.
We often times get celery, varities of lettuce, kale and broccoli from Ecocampos. At Ecocampos they use a method that we work with in AB & BC where they grow flowers in between the rows of cultivated crops, this strategy is called push/pull; it aids in mitigating the need for weeding, using chemicals inputs, increasing biodiversity and helping to protect the crops from any unwanted visitors. All of the land on the farm is kept watered via their 3 wells and the drip-irrigation system. Large amounts of the farm are set aside as a buffer zone to ensure that the local ecosystems thrive amongst the farm.
Presa Vieja is Rafa's family co-operative. Rafa is the farm lead back at Gustavo's farm however, he and is family had the opportunity to start their own farm, so with the help of Gustavo he started Presa Vieja Organics. Rafa and his own family are working to reclaim the land for use to export the soon to be organic fruit and vegetables to the US and Canada.
His family has worked to plant the land over the past 2 years to include a variety of citrus, avocado, and chia. Usually these plants would not start to produce fruit/veggies for some time, however, he was pleasantly surprised with the growth of the plants during their early life, indicating that the soil is filled with rich nutrients.
La Llamarada is a joint effort between multiple different Food Family Producers in the region. This farm was left abandoned over 10 years ago after the previous owners were unable to continue caring for the farm when the production of the produce in the region was too high and drove the value of the crop down to a point that it was too costly to continue farming.
Over time the land has naturally been restored to almost an organic state, now with the help of some of the local producers the land and the crops will soon become certified organic and we will be able to enjoy the fruit from that cooperative effort too! We are looking forward to getting avocados and mangoes from La Llamarada.