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Dec
12
2013
New crop of Yuma ag tours sprouts for 2014

Tickets on sale for hands-on look at Southwest farming

YUMA, ARIZONA - Because many think of Arizona as a big, dusty desert, people are surprised to learn Yuma is the nation's winter vegetable capital.  In fact, agriculture is the leading industry here, with its $3.2 billion annual output making up more than a third of the total for the state.  But desert farming is a little different ... for example, Yuma farmers get annoyed when it rains.

Now you can get a ground-up look at all that bounty with fresh agritourism offerings from Yuma Visitors Bureau.

top crop is YVB's "Field to Feast" tours where visitors start with a food safety lesson and a chance to harvest produce for themselves in a field grown just for the picking at the University of Arizona research farm.

Then, while a Yuma grower gives tour participants an insider's look at Yuma's vast and fertile fields, culinary students from Arizona Western College turn the morning's harvest into a farm-fresh lunch.  Because nearly every Field to Feast tour sold out over the last three years, the 2014 schedule was expanded and now includes three Saturday dates.

YVB also offers "Farmer to Farmer" advanced technical tours for those with a background in agriculture, and Savor Yuma culinary tours for those more interested in what's on the fork rather than what's in the field.

The winter produce season culminates in Yuma Lettuce Days (March 1-2, 2014), a homegrown festival with culinary flair that's earned a Governor's Tourism Award as the state's best special event.  Held at the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park, Lettuce Days features celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations and contests, red-hot ice carvers, a farmers' market and salad bar and a tasting event showcasing local restaurants.  Headlining Lettuce Days this year will be Chef Chris "CJ" Jacobson, a two-time Top Chef contestant (season three and Top Chef Masters) and executive chef at his new Girasol restaurant in Studio City, Calif.

Putting the Lettuce Days focus on food is a crowd-pleaser, said Linda Jordan, YVB executive director.  "Not everyone is interested in details about how to grow spinach, but most folks love to eat.  If we attract people with that 'appetizer,' they end up digesting a lot of information about local agriculture and how Yuma helps feed the nation."

With rich soil, abundant water and more than 350 days of sunshine a year, Yuma enjoys the continent's longest growing season and is:
  • #1 in the state and #3 in the nation for vegetable production
  • Source of more than 90 percent of the nation's leafy vegetables November-March
  • One of the world's top producers of gourmet Medjool dates
  • A top exporter of durum wheat to Italy, where it's used for premium pasta
  • Arizona's top producer of lemons, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon and cantelopes
  • Producer of more than 175 different crops and seeds 

Tickets for YVB's 2014 ag tours are now on sale.  For details, go to visityuma.com;  to charge tickets by phone, call 800-293-0071928-783-0071.  Scheduled dates include:

  • Field to Feast Tours - Jan. 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 25, 29, 30; February 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 19, 20, 22; March 5, 6
  • Farmer to Farmer Tours - Jan. 14Feb. 18, and March 11
  • Savor Yuma culinary tours - Jan. 7 & 23Feb. 4 & 20March 4 & 20 

Detailed information about Lettuce Days, including schedules and featured chefs and events will be posted as it becomes available at www.yumalettucedays.com.

Through the winter months, Yuma also serves up an array of farmers markets and cooking classes, while local date groves offer the opportunity to sample Medjool dates, the "fruit of kings," in many forms, including date milkshakes, a local favorite.  For more info, call 800-293-0071 or download or browse our Visitors Guide at www.visityuma.com.

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Yuma Visitors Bureau markets the Yuma area within the travel and tourism industry and to the general public. Direct travel spending in Yuma County in 2012 totaled more than $657 million, supported 6,660 jobs and generated more than $40 million in state and local tax revenues.

Yuma's population nearly doubles in the winter months, thanks to more than 23,000 spots in RV parks and resorts. The community also offers nearly 4,300 hotel rooms, conference and meeting facilities, and three modern casinos. 
To plan your visit, head to www.visityuma.com or call 800-293-0071.

Recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's sunniest spot, Yuma offered free meals to guests "every day the sun doesn't shine" for a full year during Arizona's Centennial. Final score? Sunshine 365, Gloom 0.

Contact: Ann Walker, 928-376-0100 (office), 928-210-9044 (cell), ann@visityuma.com
www.visityuma.com
Visitor Info Center 1-800-293-0071

The Yuma Visitors Bureau is always happy to assist members of print, digital and broadcast media, either on assignment or pitching an idea with a Yuma angle.

Media Relations Specialist Ann Walker can suggest itineraries and facilitate visits, or provide you with the inspired details to help nail down an assignment.  We pride ourselves on always going "above and beyond."

You can download background and "anytime" materials below; dated press releases appear "most recent first" at left. Call or email us for photos and B-roll video.

YVB periodically hosts group and individual press trips, and is glad to partner with other Arizona or California DMOs to coordinate a visit to several regions.

For more information, contact Ann Walker at 928-376-0100 (office), 928-210-9044 (cell) or email ann@visityuma.com. Thanks for your interest in the Yuma area.

'Anytime' releases:


Around & about - a quick Yuma overview


Brilliant! Yuma wears 'sunniest' label with pride


Last link in river restoration under way


 

Background info:


Fast Facts About YVB


 Fast Facts About Yuma 


Yuma history - narrative


Yuma historic timeline



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