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Archive for February, 2013

Patrick Visits Covilli in Mexico

Earl’s Organic has had a long term relationship with Covilli Brand Organics since 1997. Recently they have been expanding their operations and acreage in Guyamas, Mexico.  Patrick Stewart, head of sales at Earl’s and a local bay area produce buyer recently visited Covilli to tour the farm and better understand the operations and production of one of our strategic growers and partners.  Patrick feels that it is important to connect growers and retail customers.

Covilli, a family owned and operated business, began in 1972 as Circle Produce Company, with 80 acres that would eventually grow to over 1000 acres. Covilli is located inland from the picturesque beaches of Guaymas.  In 1990 they made the transition to organic.  Their strict adherence to the NOP Guidelines and Third Party Food Safety Certification, shows their commitment to quality and organic production.  Covilli Brand Organics continues to lead the industry with the highest global food safety rating; Primus GFS, ensuring exceptional care from the field to your home.

Baby green bells

Patrick with the baby green bells

The rich coastal soil in Sonora and Covilli’s high levels of agricultural integrity provides the ideal conditions for consistently high quality produce every season.  Covilli is currently growing a wide array of warm vegetables such as zucchini, sugar snap peas, bell peppers, eggplant, brussells sprouts, a variety of peppers and some winter squash.  In the spring from around the end of March through May a varietal of melons are grown including Sugar Baby Watermelon, Honeydew, Orange Flesh, Charentais and Galia.

Patrick in front of the greenhouses

Patrick in front of the greenhouses

The first day at Covilli was spent on the fields and in the packing house.  Most of the produce is picked and packed into plastic bins on the field. From there it goes into the packing shed where it is sorted for quality and size. Then about 80% goes through the hydro cooler where cold water will wash the produce and take out the field heat so the quality will remain from the time of harvest to your kitchen table.  The other 20% goes through a machine containing a solution that is mostly water mixed with a very small amount of hydrogen peroxide compound certified for organic production.  This solution sanitizes the produce by nebulization, creating a mist that does not get the product wet.  Produce such as tomatoes can’t be put through a water bath or it will start to break down. The produce is then put onto pallets and stored in coolers until they are ready to be packed onto trucks for delivery.

Hydro Cooler

Hydro Cooler


Covilli Trip Feb 2013 093

Bumble bees in the greenhouse

The second day was spent visiting the greenhouses and heated hoop houses.  Greenhouses are sealed and semi-permanent. Every other row has air tubes with holes that are fed from an industrial heater to keep the greenhouses at a minimum temperature. Covilli is now growing cucumbers, English cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplant and tomatoes inside the greenhouses. Melons and zucchinis are grown on the field.

Bee Hives for pollination on the field

Bee Hives for pollination on the field

Around the farm there are many boxes full of honey bees in the field and bumble bees for the greenhouses. The honey bees are used to pollinate the field and the bumble bees are used in the greenhouse.  In particular tomato flowers must undergo vibrations for successful pollination. The bumble uses its wings to create a buzzing vibration that shakes the flower to distribute its pollen. Honeybees and other pollinators do not have the ability to shake the tomato’s flowers. The bees also pollinate raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, sweet peppers and melons. (Source: ehow.com)

Patrick noticed that Covilli looked like other agricultural operations in the United States except for a few things.  The farm is surrounded by mesquite wood and they are very resourceful at using the wood for fence posts and stakes.  The farm is also gated with a security guard with a sign in sheet to track who has been on the land for food safety reasons.

Mesquite wood stakes

Mesquite wood stakes

The trip to Covilli was successful in making an important connection between our growers and customers. Any opportunity to introduce and educate always turns out mutually beneficial.  Patrick “finds traveling to farms, both local and afar, incredibly enriching. It’s great to be able to change and solidify my own standardized perceptions.”

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for photos of melons as they start to arrive sometime in March.

Meiwa Kumquats

The round shaped Meiwa has a spicy sweet rind and flesh.  You may find a few seeds inside but they are edible.  They have been described as “flavor bombs” and you will understand what I mean when you taste one.  The Meiwa is my personal favorite and if I have a handful in front of me I will eat them one by one until suddenly they are gone.




Blue Ringed Ginger

Hawaiian blue ringed ginger is here only for a limited time at Earl’s.  Blue ginger is a unique variety grown in Hawaii and known for its juiciness and spicy flavor. The blue ring is noticeable when you cut into the ginger and will fade to a creamy white color as you cut closer to the top of the ginger.  Don’t miss out on this special opportunity!

Yosemite Mandarins

Yosemite Mandarins are a hybrid with Temple tangor, and Dancy and Encore mandarins. The rind is an orangish reddish color. The flesh is seedless and very sweet. They are a smaller sized mandarin with a thin skin that is easy to peel.



Permaculture, the Transition Initiative, and the Future of Farming by Ben Block


I attended a seminar at the Eco-Farm 2013 conference presented by Penney Livingston-Stark entitled “Permaculture, the Transition Initiative, and the Future of Farming.”  Penny works at the Regenerative Design Institute, a non-profit educational institute in Bolinas, CA,  that focuses on spreading the ideas of permaculture and developing the skills to implement them.  Permaculture takes many different forms, but it is essentially an attitude or approach towards solving problems that centers around paying attention to natural patterns.  Throughout the course of the presentation, we were introduced to communities all over the globe that are implementing holistic approaches to sustainability and permaculture.  Some of these communities are part of the Transition Initiative, a movement that seeks to strengthen local communities by decreasing their dependence on non-local inputs.  The Transition Initiative takes seriously the coming crises of our dwindling oil reserves and “climate weirding”, also known as climate change, and attempts to divert our impending doom by increasing the resilience of local communities through citizen-led action.  Of the many important ideas discussed, one that stuck with me was the importance of working within established legal parameters in order to maintain legitimacy as a movement.  Though this approach often reduces momentum as it must tread with care, it has the potential to provide more solidified and permanent change (and is in effect an application of permaculture on the societal level.)

Here are a couple of books we recommend on permaculture that we found at the Eco-Farm Conference marketplace.

Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison


Permaculture by Sepp Holzer



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