Thanks to Evan Oaks, owner of Ag Venture Tours, we got a quick education on just how the vast system of planting, growing, harvesting and shipping the produce of Salinas Valley takes place.
For a half day we visited what has been called the 'Salad Bowl of the World', seeing the fields with plantings of an assortment of vegetables.
We learned how crops are always rotated, each season planted with a different vegetable and that what is not harvested is plowed right back into the soil often eliminating the need for fertilizer. And that there are two crops a year.
A 'harvest team' is a mix of hand labor and modern machinery. A harvest team in a field of celery will cut the vegetable, trim it to a specific size, and box it right on site, then loaded into large truck trailers. Each box is coded and recorded with name of team, time of cutting, destination and often the buyer's name.
Often the box has a specific color indicating who the buyer is. We learned that WalMart's color for its vegetable boxes is black. Once aboard the trailer it is hauled to a plant where it is vacumn cooled to a low temperature and then sent on its way to some nation wide destination that same day
Dollar wise Strawberries ae the most expensive crop among the dozens of vegetables and fruits grown in the valley.
Our tour started at Pezzini Farms where we learned how artichokes are grown, then sorted by size and packed for shipment. The Salinas Valley is the artichoke capitol of the nation.
Our tour ended at the Salad Shoppe in Salinas where we feasted on some of the products this rich agricultural region produces.