Meet our grower Edwin Sanabria
Edwin is a founding grower / partner of Southern Specialties. His pioneering spirit, sense of social commitment and agricultural expertise are a major part of the framework of our company.
Edwin’s grandparents, on both sides, grew commodities in Guatemala’s highland and desert areas. His father, an engineer, and mother, a teacher, skipped a generation of farming. Edwin could not resist his calling and began studies in agriculture. He holds a degree in agronomy from San Carlos University and has participated in extensive advanced study programs at Purdue University and the University of Vienna.
Agriculture, in Guatemala, was modeled after the Spanish colonial system. Larger landholdings were distributed to the wealthy and cheap indian labor was used sporadically. Edwin’s hopes were to find a way to help poor people reach financial independence.
In 1978 Edwin organized 24 small farmers from the Magdalena area of Guatemala to grow seasonal vegetables for sale to Paiz Supermarkets. Edwin’s guidance allowed these farmers to realize a small income from their farms. Each year more vegetables were added to the offerings. Still, the vegetables were only seasonal and there was no year round income.
Robert Colescott, CEO of Southern Specialties, and his former employer approached Edwin and suggested COOP Magdalena members grow specialty produce. These products could provide year round income. The seed was planted.
Today Edwin, and Southern Specialties, has expanded COOP Magdalena to almost 240 members, each averaging 2.5 acres of land. The COOP, through Edwin’s guidance and Southern Specialties’ partnership, provides for a year round income, extensive agricultural and food safety education, schooling for member families, clinics that provide medical and dental treatment and community sports activities.
We continue to grow together with our families, and future generations, in mind. We are committed to providing value for our community, our customers and consumers.