A sustainable system, whether it be environmental, or of a similar type, should be able to endure indefinitely. Mother Nature has provided us with a blueprint on how to ensure we continue to be good stewards of the land, water resources, and energy sources. Many practices can be improved to show an overall benefit; some by introducing new technologies, some by changing business practices, and others by influencing human behavior and interaction with the word around us. Our philosophy at Potandon is one of continuous improvement in all areas of our business, including reducing both our water footprint and our carbon footprint.
At The Farm
Since we are an agriculturally-based company, land management is critical to our longevity. It’s for this reason that we make a concerted effort to implement any and all changes that show positive benefits. We work with industry leaders, universities and experts to continually improve our management of available resources, demonstrating in the process a level of leadership we hope will be emulated by our peers.
We use emerging technology and adhere to documented and means-tested farming protocols. We monitor pH and nutrient levels of the soil to make sure we only apply water and fertilizers as needed, instead of just a blanket schedule. Most of our farming activities take full advantage of technology to ensure we are optimizing all processes. State of the art irrigation systems allow for rapid adjustments in water flow and product applications that are weather sensitive. Drip irrigation is being utilized in our onion crop resulting in a reduction of our water use by up to 20% some years. Overhead center pivot irrigation used for our potato crops with specialized nozzles minimizes evaporation, drift and overspray. We also practice a very diverse crop rotation program that strengthens the soil naturally, including time for some fields to rest. Additionally, our development team is working tirelessly behind the scenes developing potato and onion varieties that require less water and resources to grow.
Our Agronomists monitor nutrient levels of the crops by collecting and analyzing tissue cultures. Both pesticide and fertilizer applications are adjusted throughout the season based on sampling of both the field and the plants. We use an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program which is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to controlling diseases and pests. Using specific data collected at the farm and known information on the life cycles of the targeted pests, control methods are employed to deal with the insects with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment. This is regularly updated as change is a constant when evaluating insect populations.
At The Packing Shed
Our fresh packing facilities handle potatoes and onion all year long and we continually make improvements to reduce energy use and water. All of our operations employ modern processes to capture and recycle wash water supply as part of our overall water management plan. Potatoes are washed to free them from field soil and the system it set up to recapture that soil and put it back in the fields as well as to clean and sanitize the water for reuse.
We’ve invested numerous man-hours and dollar in constantly refining our packaging program to produce the lowest cost and lowest impact packages we can source. Our poly bags are printed using water-based inks and our master containers are made from recycled materials. Our bags are manufactured right near our main office to reduce transportation miles. Corrugated or cardboard containers are sourced from suppliers that are part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI®) program. Any leftover or outdated packaging is recycled.
In The Offices
Sustainability is not limited to activities outside. We take things seriously within our administrative offices and have instituted multiple programs over the years to reduce, reuse, and recycle. One of the largest and most successful programs we’ve benefitted from is our paperless document system, which allows for electronic storage of historical records and accounting summaries. Instead of boxes filled with paper sales orders, we now keep things saved on a server. We have a full time recycling program to recover anything which can be recycled according to local practices, including used printer cartridges, boxes, and fresh produce samples. Our main headquarters building is state-of-the-art with fluorescent lighting, timers, a high-efficiency HVAC system, and computer systems which are energy efficient.
A business is more than just a combination of methods of production and products. Our employees are our most valuable resource and we manage many internal programs to nurture them. It starts with a safe and healthy work environment; a place where people feel comfortable and motivated. We have an industry-leading employee benefit program which focuses on employee wellness. Healthy and happy employees are critical to achieving high rates of productivity and Potandon Produce stands firmly behind its staff with monthly programs that promote wellness for all its employees and their families. Company sponsored programs such as tobacco cessation, weight management, exercise and nutrition challenges, sponsored 5k runs, hiking, biking, and other activities are all part of daily life at Potandon.
Additionally Potandon also provides a free annual wellness exam for all employees. Testing for Body Mass Index (BMI), Blood Pressure, and Total Cholesterol are standard and employees and their spouses can add additional testing from a broad list to address specific concerns. The program is administered by licensed professional healthcare providers. Additional support and counseling services are provided as needed depending on specific circumstances.
We also provide training opportunities both internally and externally. By helping employees with the cost of education, bringing in paid speakers to do local seminars, and offering job-specific training, the company leaders are making sure we have a highly talented next generation of employees who stand at the ready to move up the company ladder when called upon.