Producers Spotlight: Simply Natural Farms
The Most Ambitious Farming Operation in Central America
“Most people want to buy organic and will buy it whenever it’s available, and they can afford it. It’s less about demand, and more about how to make it more accessible and affordable.”
– Alexis Baden-Meyers, political director for the Organic Consumers Association
To live sustainably, we must shift our food systems toward land regeneration, and away from the cycle of consumption and depletion. This is what organic farming is about. Organic farmers pivot away from farming practices that harm the environment—and, by extension, us—and toward sustainable farming methods. These alternatives are energy and resource-efficient, generate less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the soil quality and biodiversity of the land.
Perhaps it is resistance to this extra level of care and work that has made industrial agriculture the status quo. To farm organic—especially at scale—requires people to care. About the land they cultivate, the environment, and wildlife, about the people involved in the process, and about the quality of the final product.
Cue Simply Natural Farms. An unexpected duo—”The Agronomist and the Wall Street Investor”, Alan Winstead and Brian Angiuli—joined visions back in 2014 with the goal of creating a large-scale, industrial organic farming operation that would reorient Panama’s productive sector towards the export of tropical fruit.
It started in Los Olivos de Natá, Coclé, Panamá, which would go on to become the base camp for their field office, packing facilities, as learning and development branch, as well as the largest organic greenhouse and nursery in Central America. Drawing on Israeli agricultural technology developed by SupPlant, Simply Natural designed a greenhouse structure to minimize rust damage and ensure maximum natural ventilation. They also incorporated a state-of-the-art irrigation system that uses AI technology to measure the amount of light and water received by each plant, thus ensuring optimal care and use of resources.
The year is 2020. Simply Natural Farms is a vertically-integrated umbrella company with operations in several parts of the world. Its organic operation consists of thousands of hectares worth of mango, avocado, plantain, melon, guava, lime, and other varieties of tropical fruit. Passion, heart, and soul—along with a highly skilled and dedicated team of business minds, plant biologists, microbiologists, mechanical engineers, system engineers, data scientists, and agronomists—are carrying out its vision.
Furthermore, Simply Natural Farms is part of Alianza Por El Millón (Alliance For The Million), a local organization collaborating with the government to reforest a million hectares in the country. They have partnered with Panamanian institutions like the Ministerio de Desarrollo Agropecuario (Ministry of Agricultural Development, or MIDA) to receive new graduates in the field as trainees and teach them about the world of agriculture through their farms and perspective. They work globally, representing Panama in trade shows on agriculture and exportation, as well as locally, sponsoring a local soccer school and a unique horticultural program.
It is fair to say that they continue to march steadily toward their goals of becoming the largest producer and exporter of organic fruits and vegetables in the world, making organic the new normal, and changing the world through farming.
We invite you to know more about this project here.