How Does Your Lettuce Grow? Agritourism in Yuma
It took a busload of agritourists half an hour to pick as much Yuma produce as one farm worker probably harvests in 10 minutes. Luckily they weren't being compensated by the box and they didn't have to get up at 2:30am to catch a bus over the border to go to work. Instead, we strolled into the Yuma Visitor Center at 8am, boarded a luxury coach and even paid $30 for the privilege of learning about Yuma agriculture. Our harvest was transformed into lunch by the culinary students at Arizona Western College while we toured the fields by bus then visited the Ag Extension Center to pick citrus to take home.
More than 95% of Yuma's agricultural harvest comes from conventional agriculture and the scope and scale is a bit mind-boggling: Almost 90% of all the leafy vegetables grown in the United States from November through March are grown in and around the Yuma area. The county is also a major producer of citrus and seeds. As a consequence, food safety is critically important to the local economy and we heard a lot about Arizona's voluntary efforts to keep the leafy greens clean and safe from external contamination.
The new Field to Feast tour is offered a couple days a week from January through March. It is part of a recent effort by Visit Yuma to highlight the importance of its agricultural heritage and shine a spotlight on local food tours, cooking classes, gardens, date groves and other local producers.
The annual Yuma Lettuce Days celebration is held in March.