On June 8, Western Growers and California Farm Water Coalition hosted a farm tour where four bloggers visited ag operations throughout Monterey County to learn what it takes to feed a nation. These lifestyle, mommy and food bloggers had the opportunity to hear about the labor challenges facing agriculture, learn about innovation being developed to help solve the industry’s most pressing issues, see how food gets from the field to the store and interact with the family farmers who grow the food they feed their children every day.
The day kicked off at Tanimura & Antle, where the bloggers saw artisan lettuce being harvested and packed in the field. They also received a live demonstration of PlantTape to learn more about the automation and innovation that is occurring as a result of a dwindling labor market.
Mission Ranches then explained how kale, cauliflower and sugar snap peas are grown and harvested. Additionally, Mission Ranches’ Brent McKinsey shared his personal journey into ag, highlighting the fact that most farms throughout the Unites States are family owned and operated.
For lunch, the bloggers enjoyed a meal at the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) where they received an AgTech 101. They heard from WGCIT Lead Dennis Donohue about the importance of agtech in such a challenging regulatory climate and the advancements the industry has made in technology and innovation. Two start-up companies, Concentric Power and Food Origins, explained the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in ag, as well as described how each of their tech will advance the industry. To bring it home, Kate Hitchcock of American Farms shared how technology is being used in their fields.
Sierra Farms showed the bloggers how strawberries are harvested and explained the programs created to enrich the lives of their workers, including offering healthcare to farmworkers, hosting employee appreciation days and having dedicated spaces for new mothers to rest and feed. Sierra Farms’ Jackie Vasquez also shared her experiences being a woman in ag and spoke about the progress being made for the advancement of women in the industry.
The day culminated with a visit to Taylor Farms’ salad processing plant, where the bloggers participated in an extensive tour to learn about value-added products, investments in processing automation and the importance of sustainability. In addition to seeing how snack/party trays and packaged salads are assembled, the bloggers had the opportunity to see how the operation is a “no-waste” facility.
The blogger tour was a collaboration between Western Growers and the California Farm Water Coalition aimed at bridging the gap between consumers and the source of their food supply. Each blogger has an expansive following and significant influence with consumers. Click here to see photos from the tour.
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