Grupo Alta is a farm operation in the Sonora Desert near Hermosillo. The first word that comes to mind with Grupo Alta is impressive. Impressive for its size and for its ethics as an employer.
Initially restricted to table grapes, Grupo Alta is now growing a variety of crops, of which cucumbers, tomatoes, melons, watermelons, peaches, peppers. About 60% of their crops are grown organically (since 2011) and their objective is to reach the 100% in a few years. They sell in North America and Europe under the brands Divine Flavor and Heaven’s best.
They have 7 ranches, of which Campo Pozo Manuel and Campo La Cuesta that we visited.
A strong commitment to Fairtrade Alan Aguire fought for years for recognition as a model farm, because he saw such poor working conditions at other farms (the ones that we have visited and are never on our price list). He became certified with the largest international Fairtrade certifier, FLOcert a few years ago to have a third-party acknowledge his commitment.
Certified with FLO after a 2 years improvement process to reach the compliance criteria of the Hired Labour standards and to become certified.
This operation has over 2000 workers who work seasonally – it’s too hot in that area to grow anything from May to September. Most of their workers come from impoverished communities in the far southern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco. In December they are bused north across Mexico (a 2 day drive) and will live on the farm until harvest time, in July or August. They go from 22 full time employees to 2200. All workers are over 18 and Mexican citizens.
Once on the ranch, they live in air-conditioned apartments on the farms. They are paid double minimum-wage, are fed in cafeterias staffed with nutritionists – even catering specifically to the much different diets of the indigenous people from different parts of Southern Mexico who work for them. On every ranch, they have a 24/7 access to a health centre (doctor, a small surgery, dentist). Dental checking and cleaning are free and available for any employee. Any major treatment (generally involving to remove rotten teeth and replace them by prosthesis) is financed for 75% by the premium, the remaining 25% being charged to the farm worker.
Cucumbers, Grapes, Melons (Honeydew, Canteloupe), Watermelons
Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
QAI Certified Organic
Cucumbers, Grapes, Melons, Mexico