NatureSweet to meet with residents over proposed marijuana grow

NatureSweetThe NatureSweet greenhouses in Bonita - Google Maps

BONITA — NatureSweet officials say the tomato-growing operation is losing money . . . but they have a plan to turn things around.

Bryant Ambelang, NatureSweet executive chairman, sent a letter to Bonita residents, teachers and parents with children in the Bonita school, inviting them to an informational meeting Thursday at the school.

Ambelang’s letter talks about buying the Bonita greenhouses out bankruptcy in 2013, and making investments to the facility in order to turn a profit.

“Unfortunately, to date, those attempts have failed,” he wrote. “After over one year of evaluating our options, we are excited to share with you a plan that will keep NatureSweet in the community, increase jobs and increase tax revenues for the school district. At the core of the plan is a diversification of crops that will include tomatoes, peppers and medical grade cannabis. I would like to personally share that plan with you at our informational meeting.”

The meeting will take place from 7-8 p.m. Thursday, March 25, at Bonita Elementary School.

It will be the second attempt to introduce medical grade cannabis to the greenhouse operation. Last fall, Bayacan proposed purchasing one of the greenhouses from NatureSweet for an indoor marijuana grow.

However, that proposal hit a snag when Graham County Planning and Zoning voted in opposition to a rezoning that would have allowed the operation. When the Graham County Board of Supervisors declined to postpone action on Bayacan’s rezoning application, Bayacan withdrew its request.