Colin Archipley a former Marine Corps Sergeant that survived three tours in Iraq including the deadly battle of Fallujah has filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods Organic Markets. The former Sergeant who also founded a non profit that helps fellow veterans transition into agriculture filed the lawsuit with wife Karen Archipley as owners of Archi’s Acres for fraud and breach of contract.
The lawsuit states that the Jeff Bezos’ Amazon owned grocery store chain abruptly stopped their orders of the farms organic basil that Whole Foods encouraged and even loaned money to the couple to expand.
The husband and wife duo had a dream to run their very own organic farm that became a reality in 2005 after they purchased three acres in northern San Diego County in between Colin’s tours of duty in Iraq.
They used the organic farm as a therapy for Colin to help him deal with the time he spent overseas fighting for our country in some of the hardest battles the Iraq war has seen like the skirmishes seen in Haditha and Fallujah.
“He had seen more than his fair share and had taken more than his share of losses and so farming was very therapeutic,” said Karen Archipley. “He kinda just took to the land.”
Whole Foods came to the Archipleys in 2012 asking them to be a basil producer for 60 of their organic grocery stores.
“They loved our basil and they said ‘this is what we want to be the staple for Whole Foods,'” said Archipley. “They said we loved who we were and they love who we represented as veteran farmers, as small local farmers. I remember thinking how cool that was.”
The lawsuit reveals that Whole Foods contracted the Archipleys to purchase $573,000 in basil per year. Taking it one step further the Amazon owned supermarket helped lend the couple the money they needed to purchase the land parcel next to their farm and to help them build a 28,000 square foot greenhouse to produce even greater quantities for the organic grocery monolith.
The couple was riding high and filled with optimism with even more of a boost coming from being invited to the White House in 2014. First Lady Michelle Obama had invited the Archipleys for a meet and greet that also later led to helping plant crops in the White House garden.
Things took a sharp turn downward in 2017 however as orders from Whole Foods began to slow. Subsequently that’s the same year Amazon purchased Whole Foods.
“As soon as our doors opened, the orders collapsed like a soufflé,” said Archipley. “Our dream shattered. Basically, they loved us until they didn’t.”
Shortly after the couple weren’t selling enough of their organic basil to pay for the loan that Whole Foods helped them get for expansion. The bank ended up foreclosing on their properties and the Archipleys were bankrupted by the corporate giant.
Attorney Alex Papaefthimiou who is representing them said Whole Foods should keep their promises.
“This case is, quite literally, a defense of the American Dream,” said Papaefthimiou. “Our clients, a local veteran-founded and community-oriented farm, are at risk of losing everything because they trusted in their partnership with Whole Foods. Whole Foods simply cast our clients aside with crippling debt after it had finished using them for its advertising campaign. We are committed to doing what we can to stop big business from taking advantage of good people.”
Vegan News has reached out for comment to Whole Foods in regards to this case and will update this story accordingly.
A documentary featuring the couples non profit that helps fellow veterans transition to agriculture.