Red Sun Farms job fair draws hopeful applicants

AFP Correspondent

DUBLIN, Va. (June 17, 2014) — Red Sun Farms, the international company building a complex of hydroponic and organic greenhouses here to grow tomatoes, welcomed a steady stream of job seekers to its job fair at New River Community College on June 6-7.
The company had planned to open the event at 11 a.m. Friday but had to start at 9 a.m. when a line of applicants formed in front of Edwards Hall where the fair was being held.
Caroline Brady Velasquez, human resources coordinator for the company, reported that over 300 people showed an interest in working for the new member of this Southwest Virginia’s agriculture community.
“It was well worth the resources and energy we put into it,” Velasquez said of the fair. “We think we found some good people.”
She described the people attending the fair as being excited and intrigued by the new way to grow tomatoes here.
She said the company is looking for people who are willing to be trained and learn.
Velasquez said she hopes to be able to hire from 25 to 30 people by July 1 and have them working to learn the company’s growing processes.
She expects to continue hiring as the project moves forward. This is a kind of agriculture that is completely new to the local workforce.
Phase I of the project is nearing completion with 18 acres of glass-sided greenhouses. Twelve of these acres will produce hydroponically grown tomatoes and six acres is marked for growing organic tomatoes.
Red Sun Farms is bringing experienced growers from its plant in Mexico to train the local people who will be hired as the company starts growing tomatoes.
The trainers will be in this country for a limited amount of time until local people learn the techniques needed.
“I’m leaving with a very positive feeling,” Carlos Visconti, Red Sun’s chief operating officer, said as he toured the auditorium where tables had been set up for people to fill out applications.
Company officials took time to talk with each of the applicants and to create an atmosphere of friendliness and hope to an area where unemployment has become a fact of life for many.
Visconti expressed the hope that the company can begin planting tomatoes in the greenhouses now nearing completion about two miles north of the community college by late July for harvest to begin in October.
The greenhouses will be producing the specialty tomatoes that are sold in clusters of four or five.
Tables in the meeting room were decorated with the product and there were large displays of tomatoes and other Red Sun Farms products, as well as a display of the small tools used in the process.