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Balm for human and the vine: Aloe vera treatment for wildfire damage comes to California Wine Country

Recently, the Wine Industry Network WINExpo trade show in Santa Rosa featured a common product with an unusual application - aloe vera. Many know it, but the Austrailan-based Better Green Crops distributes the nectar of the green plant for a different use - on fire-damaged vines.

The Journal posed some questions to a co-founder of the company, Leonard Atlas, about concept and effectiveness.

Where is your company, Better Green Crops, located, how many employees and what are its annual revenues?

Better Green Crops is headquartered in Sydney, with its sales office in Los Angeles. I am a co-founder and director along with Andrew Naar (Sydney based). In addition to the co-founder/directors, we have four part-time support staff.

Sales are under $1 million so far, as we are less than 1 year old.

You are a distributor of this product, GroAloe. How is it that you and your company became aware of this product?

I was first introduced to GroAloe about three years ago by their master distributor who was/is a client and friend of mine. He became the master distributor of GroAloe and was looking for international distributors.

I knew that Andrew, my friend in Sydney, was looking for an organic product to market globally, so I introduced the two parties, I didn't think that I would be an active participant. However, after Andrew secured his deal with the exclusive rights to Australia and Israel, he invited me to partner with him. Having come from a family business in floral wholesaling and decorating, I had a passion and curiosity for agriculture and agronomy, so ultimately agreed to partner on this project.

How long have you and your company been distributing GroAloe and what, other than this effort to use on vines, other applications is it used on?

We started to market (the product) in July of 2019 and almost immediately found farmers in Brazil, Napa/Sonoma, South Carolina and other locations that were plagued with insects, mold, mildew, etc. … and determined to find a cure.

At the same time as we were finding new clients. We found two professional farmers that consult to farmers globally on dealing with short-term issues as well as helping non-organic farmers upgrade their farms to organic, so we added them to our team and started offering farming consulting services as well.

What's the science behind the application of aloe vera on plants?

GroAloe is a 100% pure aloe vera concentrate soil amendment that includes over 20 amino acids and important carbohydrates that enhance soil chelation, which contributes directly to nutrient uptake and naturally repels most pests and insects, as they don't like the taste or smell.

It is also naturally enriched with a host of vitamins, minerals and lignin, a natural biopolymer that promotes efficient water use and excellent growth. The result is an all-natural, organic product that grows healthy food and does not contaminate the environment - which can substantially expand upon the productivity and crop yield to farms, nurseries, orchards, vineyards, and home gardens everywhere.

How does it differ from treatments for smoke and burn damage for vineyards that have been around for a longer period of time?

It's much different. It actually speeds up the healing process three-fold and repairs damage is far less time. With continued use during the off season to help prevent infestations, diseases, viruses, etc …. It can also strengthen the weak vines, keeping them strongest during the cold season.

There's a mention of it being GroAloe having a 50-year-old patent.

Bill C. Coats, R.Ph., C.C.N., founder and creator of GroAloe and five-time author, is a world-renowned authority on aloe vera, and he created the whole-leaf patented process in 1962.

What's the history behind its creation and use?

His patent has been used to develop more than 1,000 aloe vera-infused products, including cosmetic treatments, pain relievers and cellular reproduction stimulants. The aloe vera plant known to deter insects with almost no known toxicity or counter-indications, aloe vera represents more sales than any other herb on Earth.

Since 2009 Mr. Coats was also issued a use patent for aloe vera on all agriculture, and the team have been testing GroAloe on all crops, including working with farmers with 50 plus years of experience in growing rice at The Indonesian Center for Rice Research and Ph.D. agronomists at Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at Beaumont, Texas.

Where has it already been used in damaged vines? How long does it take, and what is the measure of success, versus say letting Mother Nature take its normal course?

Current tests in Canada, California, South America, Spain and Italy show incredible results. GroAloe speeds up the healing process three-fold over letting Mother Nature take its course.

Given the economics of the industry, how much does this product cost, and how does it justify the cost?

GroAloe allows the grower to eliminate the use of several different products including, but not limited to chemicals, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, oils, and any other sprays, i.e., Kumulus used to control powdery mildew.

Also continued use during the growing season allows for healthier, better tasting grapes with increased yields…. GroAloe literally pays for itself by reducing how many products need to be used and the typical increased yields that farmers realize.

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