CEICKOR University Farms
Tarrats Zirion Family
Felix Tarrats has a unique work environment – part university and part greenhouse – which pulls together his 20+ year career in agriculture and his leadership at the Koppert Rapel Research and Training Center, or CEICKOR greenhouses. Felix studied Agronomy in college and began working in greenhouses. In 2005, he started the CEICKOR project in Querétaro to provide greenhouse growing consulting and education.
Now the program houses over 50 full-time students pursuing a certified engineering degree in greenhouse management. In addition, the research and techniques studied at CEICKOR benefit all the Magic Sun greenhouses. “Greenhouse growing is one of the branches of agronomy where technical advances are happening, and the challenge is to make the production as sustainable as possible. We control many of the growing conditions inside the greenhouses but there are always natural challenges to produce the highest quality and most sustainable products,” said Tarrats.
His brother, Alejandro, works with him as production manager of the greenhouse. “The greenhouse programs require a lot of technical knowledge, but they also benefit from our commitment and passion to grow the best Magic Sun tomatoes for our customers.”
Agroindustrias Campo Real
Lopez Muñoz Family
The Lopez Muñoz family has a long tradition of farming with more than 30 years of growing a variety of fresh produce including table grapes, broccoli, onions, peppers and garlic in traditional open fields. As dedicated farmers, Eduardo and his family have always been looking for a better way to grow healthy produce, so 15 years ago they started growing vegetables in greenhouses.
Along with his five sisters, Eduardo led the transition to hydroponic growing and has enjoyed the move to cultivating crops with the newest technology. “We like the opportunity to increase the yield on our crops and the ability to grow Magic Sun tomatoes throughout the year. This allows us to be a stable source of employment and contributes to the economic stability for our area,” said Eduardo.
Eduardo and the Campo Real team work closely with CEICKOR University, and many students complete their internships at Campo Real. “One of the challenges of high tech greenhouse growing is having access to trained personnel,” said Lopez. “CEICKOR is a successful source of talent for handling greenhouse tomatoes, and that is why we participate very closely with them for the generation and promotion of talent in the industry. In addition to working together with the University, we have the technical support of Ceickor, thus having access to the most recent crop management techniques, which gives us a competitive advantage in tomato production.”
ALSA Alimentos – El Consuelo
Gerardo Lopez Family
Gerardo Lopez has been a farmer for nearly 40 years starting out with a family farm that produced grapes for the wine business. It taught him life-long lessons about working hard and seeing the fruits of his labor. Gerardo wanted to learn more about the industry, which led him to study agronomy in college, and return to the family farm.
Gerardo’s entrepreneur spirit took him on a new course as he started his own company in the construction industry. After 20 successful years, he returned to his roots and started growing greenhouse tomatoes. “High tech greenhouses interested me as I was looking for a way to improve growing conditions and produce crops year-round. Our region offered a unique environment with an abundance of sun through the year and a dry and cool climate.”
He returned to work with many of the same people who continued with his family’s original farm. Gerardo’s wife Claudia works with him, as well as his son Gerardo Jr., who is responsible for farm operations.
Gerardo works closely with the CEICKOR University team to bring new growing techniques into his greenhouses. “CEICKOR has helped us learn about new protocols and we benefit from student interns who learn first-hand about life as a Magic Sun grower. It is a great partnership and helps us attract and keep good workers, which positively impacts our community as well,” said Lopez.
Santa Cristina Farms
Bañales Sepulveda Family
Alberto Bañales has been in the agricultural industry for over a quarter century. He began with open field farming with onions, tomatoes, melons, chilies and peppers. After several years of lost crops due to severe weather conditions and hail damage, Alberto started looking for better agricultural alternatives.
He did his research and was introduced to greenhouse technology 15 years ago and has been busy working to build a strong sustainable program ever since. “The challenge is there every day as we need to maintain optimal growing conditions in the greenhouse to combine and balance with the outside elements. We have dedicated associates working shoulder to shoulder as they are committed to growing great products for our Magic Sun customers,” said Bañales. His son, Alberto Jr., works in the greenhouse alongside him and is learning the growing business just like his dad, combining hard work with a passion for producing outstanding flavor and quality tomatoes.
“We work closely with our CEICKOR partners to become even better growers and to give our young people an opportunity to learn new techniques and find a solid career path. This helps them, their families and our communities prosper through our partnership,” he said.