Category Archives: Meet Our Growers

Pristine Peru: Growing demand for organics creates new opportunities for farmers

South America

South America

Peru, a small country on the northwest coast of South America, is known by many as the home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Maccu Picchu, or the birthplace of America’s beloved vegetable, the potato.  If you’re a foodie, you’re probably aware of the soaring popularity Peruvian cuisine is having on restaurant menus around the U.S.  However, what we find most exciting about Peru is the pristine countryside where farmers have been growing organically for generations.

Click on the image to read more about Peru's organic agriculture in this white paper.

Click on the image to read more about Peru’s organic agriculture in this white paper.

While Peru has no shortage of organic farmers, many of them struggle with the infrastructure needed to sell their crop for its true value.  This is where High Quality Organics comes in.  We’ve been able to help our Peruvian farmers not only gain market access to the U.S. but we’ve assisted with critical success factors like access to organic certification or certified organic seed. Our partnerships with our Peruvian farmers have truly gone beyond simple transactions and become transformational, allowing them to grow their business and better support their communities while increasing our supply capabilities.  It’s an exciting time for Peru’s organic agriculture sector and we couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it. Below are a few highlights from a recent trip our Vice President of Supply Chain, Toby Eck, took in June.

A blossoming organic chia seed field in Peru. Chia seed is an ancient seed growing in popularity for its heart-healthy omega-3 is used in baking, granola bars, smoothies and more.

A blossoming organic chia seed field in Peru. Chia seed is an ancient seed growing in popularity for its heart-healthy omega-3 is used in baking, granola bars, smoothies and more.

Here an organic farmer we've been working with is digging up a ginger sample in a sandy field. He is successfully growing many different crops using above-ground nutrition-irrigation system.  This has transformed a completely agriculturally-useless region into vast fields of sustainably produced organic products.

Here an organic farmer we’ve been working with is digging up a ginger sample in a sandy field. He is successfully growing many different crops using above-ground nutrition-irrigation system. This has transformed a completely agriculturally-useless region into vast fields of sustainably produced organic products.

This picture shows just-picked paprika air-drying alongside a field. Not needing to transport or machine dry the paprika provides significant savings for the farmer.

This picture shows just-picked paprika air-drying alongside a field. Not needing to transport or machine-dry the paprika provides significant savings for the farmer.

This is one of HQO's partners of three years, Santiago.  He's a first generation farmer that developed a passion for organic agriculture while in college.  He has not only brought an abundance of agriculture to an otherwise barren area, but he is providing employment to several people in a very poor region of Peru. He grows jalapeño, paprika and more for HQO.

This is one of HQO’s partners of three years, Santiago. He’s a first generation farmer that developed a passion for organic agriculture while in college. He has not only brought an abundance of agriculture to an otherwise barren area, but he is providing employment to several people in a very poor region of Peru. He grows jalapeño, paprika and more for HQO.

Here's a great example of the innovative spirit of so many of our partners.  This is a sand field that can produce high-quality organic agriculture by the above-ground irrigation and nutrient distribution system.  This type of production agriculture is critical for food insecure places like the barren lands in remote Peru or Egypt.

Here’s a great example of the innovative spirit of our HQO partners. This is a sand field that can produce high-quality organic agriculture thanks to the above-ground irrigation and nutrient distribution system. This type of production agriculture is critical for food insecure places like the barren lands in remote Peru or Egypt.

To learn more about High Quality Organics and the organic ingredients we supply  from Peru and the other 30+ countries we work with, please contact us on our website, www.HQOrganics.com.

Kerala India

By Fred Alejo, VP of Sales & Sustainability

I traveled to India a few months ago to share High Quality Organic’s (HQO) knowledge of organic farming and meet some of our suppliers.

India is a beautiful place with expansive farmland in remote and very peaceful places.

India is a beautiful place with expansive farmland in remote and very peaceful places.

The first week was spent with the Ker International Herbal Fair where the Ministry of Forestry in India sponsored HQO to attend and help their over three million farmers with sustainable wild collection practices.  Unlike in the United States – and most developed countries – many of the crops in India are grown in the wild and harvested by village people.  However, most of these collectors have never received formal training on sustainable harvest practices.  The result has been approximately 30% of the plants on the verge of extinction.  With our global network and agriculture knowledge, we were able to share some simple practices that can easily help preserve and allow the wild crops to thrive in India.

The second part of my visit was meeting a world-class supplier; one of our number one suppliers. They grow birds eye chili pepper, turmeric, Arabica and robosta coffee in Karala. Below are some pictures from my tours of the nutmeg and pepper plantations.

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I also had the opportunity to view the turmeric crop. It looks amazing!

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My last day in India was spent traveling to Minora, a place very similar to the Sonoma Valley of California. There I visited several tea gardens varying in age from one to 180 years old.  There they pick their tea using the parameters, 2 leaves and a bud.

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This was my first time in India and it was eye opening.  I not only learned to invest in more moisture-wicking shirts, I also developed an amazing respect for the knowledge our Indian farmers have.  Despite India emerging as a nation, their knowledge of agriculture is, in a lot of ways, extremely developed.  For example, they call plants by their botanical name and could tell you more about them than almost any Wikipedia page could.

Our growers in India have been partners with HQO since the beginning.  This trip reaffirmed why we work with them: their passion for preserving the land and providing the best quality products possible.  It’s clear they will be valued partners for generations to come.

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Fred Alejo has been with High Quality Organics since February 2011 and leads the  rapidly growing organic ingredient company in sales and sustainable initiatives.  Prior work experience includes Rembrandt Foods, Dole Fresh Vegetables and the United States Army.  Fred is the proud father of three children and spends his time outside work coaching football, skiing and training for triathlons.