We are Farm Family
The universe, the stars & timing.
Three families intertwined, three different stories that cross paths and united around the same values. Together they are building the largest organic fruit and vegetable company in the world; producing and exporting organic quality products all year long.
The Angiuli family
Farming has been running in the Angiuli family for a long time: going back to the lush country of Italy where both of Brian´s grandfathers originated from, and growing potato and wine were what the loved to do. Can you say Gnocchi. And while the farming bug weaved its way into many of Brian´s cousins (he´s from a super big family) his cousin who started a seed to shelf farmer market in Ohio, or his other family members whose vineyards produce some of the best wines around, Brian’s first love was economics and finance. He spent some 20 years expressing his passion and talent for numbers in Wall Street until one day, for health reasons, he started wondering about the words he didn´t understand on food labels. Slowly realizing that most of what´s available on the market shelves is actually synthetic food. Fake food. Not real. Very processed. This preoccupation became exponentially bigger when Brian´s first child was born.
The lack of healthy food in the market, and his financial prowess and wit, made him immediately see an opportunity. At first, it was from a business standpoint; investing in water and agriculture technology. This became a top priority, and his search for a good project drove him down to Central America where he would land in Panama. With a plan in his head, his due diligence kicked in leading him to knock on Campo Organico´s door where almost immediately, he hit it off with Alan Winstead, a 4th generation Panamanian agronomist with a penchant for farming.
When asked why he decided to switch gears from finance and dive into the world of agriculture and farming, Brian replies, “It was a simple decision when you really think about it. Most of the other areas in business create different types of widgets, which will eventually be replaced within 5 years of time. Agriculture, when done properly, can create world-class fruits and vegetables which not only feed people, it can provide a sense of security, make a contribution to a healthy lifestyle. Having a farm, and owning land can live on way passed our generations, leaving behind legacy´s for my family and their families.” As Brian often likes to say, “It was a no brainer for me, I knew that when it came to deciding what to do with the rest of his life, the answer was easy: farming for a better world.”
The Winstead family
Part of The Winstead family comes from Penonome, a city of Panama. Back in the sixties, there was a big movement in Panama to produce and export rice. Alan´s great grandfather was part of that movement.
For Alan, it all started when he was 5 years-old with his grandfather sitting him right on a tractor and every December he would find himself on the farm while the family harvested rice. At that time, he was too young to really help but this is where his curiosity and fascination with agriculture began. Soon this became a tradition with his grandfather: every December when the school break began, he would help with the harvest and every July, when school was out, he would help with the planting. By the time he was 10 years old and his legs could finally reach the pedals of a tractor, he started driving one around.
Around the same time, his father started a project of his own; he wanted to be a hot pepper producer and exporter. Breaking away from the rice industry, in a property close by, Alan started to work with his dad on the pepper farm. The hot peppers were mainly sold to the Tabasco Company and the rest was shipped to Holland. In the 80s, Alan´s fathers love of the earth and mother nature was evident, as noting without any knowledge from his prior experience with the rice farms, he started implementing organic techniques, when nobody else was doing it. Even though there was not an existing market for organics, he still pursued all he could to learn and apply. He started integrated pest management systems instead of spraying without any control. He was using organic waste to put back into the earth, as fertilizer. As there weren´t a lot of studies on the subject, it was a lot of trial and errors and self-learning. He partnered up with local universities and PHD students. He was a real pioneer. This experience had always stayed with Alan.
You can say Alan was fortunate for the continuous exposure he continued to gain, in that right before Alan went off to college his mother started her own ornamental plants business, where she would sell to the booming real estate projects at the time. “When I returned from college, I was fascinated with what was going on inside the nursery. And that´s when I really started to get the family farming and planting fever.”
Those different farming experiences will later define what would become the fruit tree farming business that is. When you listen to Alan talking about agriculture, there is no doubt that you are in front of passionate and modern farmer, a defender of the earth. Farming for him is “working alongside nature, it is working with a living organism called Mother Earth”.
Jan Bernhard Riggs is the son of Swiss immigrants established in Chiclayo, Peru since 1968 and in Motupe since 1977. Growing up a predominantly farming environment, he got interested in small and alternative cultivation and experienced the living and working condition of small producers in Peru.
His early age influenced his adult life goal and vision: he wanted to integrate small and marginal producer to efficient production chains. Promoting sustainable development of small agricultural organization so that they would reach their needs and expectations for them to get out of extreme poverty. Teaching and guiding the small farmers to manage the natural resources in a sustainable way.
This is how ProNatur was born in 1996 in the tropical highlands of the Peruvian rainforest around the town of Moyobamba. Today more than 1,000 families participate in the organization and actively cultivate just over 3,300 ha of coffee, mango and limes together with other crops such as beans peas, bananas, asparagus and more. In addition to the cultivated areas they also care for approximately 50,000 ha of (mainly endangered) Amazon rainforest.