A new farm warehouse, operated by a couple from Nyssa, opened its doors in Payette on Saturday, and the aim is to be set up like a local Costco store — for fresh produce.
No membership will be needed, like the national wholesale warehouse, however, there will be wholesale discounts available for local businesses and the store is open for anyone to shop at.
Owners of the warehouse, Elite Fresh Produce, are Nyssa native Nicholas Gomeza and his wife Berenise Gomeza, an Ontario native.
The product at the store will come from several local farmers, including Marwin Peaster, of Ontario, who grows a little bit of everything.
The idea for the store stemmed from an operation the couple has been doing successfully for a few years now which started as a way to “cut out the middle man,” according to Gomeza.
“It helps everyone directly because commodity prices are so crazy now,” she said, adding that there is always a way of getting out of having a middle man or broker to sell product.
That idea spurred them into opening a warehouse in Los Angeles, from which they ship product they grow (onions and bean varieties such as pinto, black and red) and product from other farmers, to retailers and restaurants throughout California, Mexico and Peru.
“It’s going really well,” she said of the endeavor. “We can provide more money for farmers, that helps us, and it helps them. It makes them happy when somebody cares about money they make and how they are going to survive.”
Having both grown up in agriculture, the Gomezas understand the importance of money stretching, because when it goes through middle-men and brokers, the markup can be exponential, she said.
At their farm in Nyssa, the Gomezas are employing several people, including eight H-2A workers, who “came with nothing to America and worked their way up,” she said.
“It’s gone really well for us, thank the Lord, and is a huge turnaround to what we were doing before,” Gomeza said. “If you can help anybody else out, you’ll get the same in return. I think that’s why it’s gone so well for us now.”
The workers are housed in trailers that have air conditioning and are fully furnished, Gomeza said, adding that most of the men working have never had air conditioning.
Those workers will head back home in December after this year’s crops are done being put away, and they’ll return in March.
The aim is to grow the warehouse in a manner that it can eventually host classes and workshops on how to cook with the food being sold there.