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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FEB. 10, 2016
Salúd event at Yuma Lettuce Days recognizes, benefits field workers
Pasquinelli Produce partners with visitors bureau to honor workforce
Original artwork copyright by Pamela Drapala
YUMA, ARIZONA - Since its beginning in 1999, Yuma Lettuce Days has celebrated all aspects of the area’s spectacular winter vegetable industry, from seeds to harvest. But until this year, the field workers whose tireless labor is critical at every stage of the growing process have not been explicitly recognized.
Salúd to the Field Workers presented by Pasquinelli Produce is meant to remedy that, with special activities on Sunday, Feb. 28, that spotlight the contributions of Yuma’s agricultural workforce – and raise funds for a field workers’ charitable group.
"We greatly understand the importance of field workers and their contributions to the success of agriculture in Yuma," said Gary Pasquinelli, owner of Pasquinelli Produce. "Supporting an activity which shares our company's beliefs makes all the sense in the world and we encourage residents and visitors to join us at Yuma Lettuce Days to recognize this community of dedicated, hardworking people."
The day begins with a nondenominational church service giving thanks for a bountiful produce season (9 a.m.). A free art exhibit and poetry readings by local artist Pamela Drapala will be available throughout the day, and awards will be presented to winners of an essay contest for middle school students on the topic “What Does Agriculture in Yuma Mean to Me” (time to be announced).
In addition, multi-media presentations will take place in a special venue at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Each session will feature custom video segments created especially for Lettuce Days that demonstrate the specialized skills and hard work Yuma’s high-volume produce industry demands, along with first-person storytelling by field workers and an opportunity for the audience to ask questions about their work.
Audience members then have the chance to savor the fruits of that labor, enjoying tasting-size samples of five different dishes made from fruits, vegetables and other ingredients “grown with love” in the Yuma area. Everyone will also receive copies of recipes for their Yuma-grown treats, said Linda Morgan, Executive Director of Yuma Visitors Bureau.
To make it an intimate experience, seating for the Salúd presentations is limited, and there is a separate charge of $10. Proceeds from the Salúd presentations go to Campesinos sin Fronteras, a nonprofit, grassroots organization serving migrant and seasonal farm workers in Yuma County.
“We are extremely proud to be partnering with Pasquinelli Produce," Morgan said. "Having their support in ensuring Salúd is a meaningful and successful part of Yuma Lettuce Days demonstrates the company's commitment to its workers and others in the industry.
“We hope this will be a successful way to both tell the story of the hard work and skills of our field workers, and to support an organization that works on their behalf all year round,” Morgan said.
Whether they purchase a ticket to the Salúd presentations, Lettuce Days visitors will be able to enjoy the colorful art work and poetry created by Yuma native Pamela Drapala.
Drapala, who retired from the Bureau of Reclamation, says that Yuma’s field workers inspired some of her most successful artwork – including a series of portraits that, coincidentally, are now owned by Pasquinelli. She will have postcard-sized prints of the portrait series for sale at Lettuce Days.
“When I first started … the Farm Workers’ Series, it was though the paintings were meant to be,” Drapala said on her website, PamelaDrapala.com. Her farm worker paintings have been recognized locally at the Yuma County Fair, and also in London, where they received the Honorable Award of Diploma of Excellence.
Yuma Lettuce Days kicks off Feb. 27 at the University of Arizona’s Yuma Agricultural Center and will also feature live cooking demonstrations by Executive Chef Michael Cairns of Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia and an all-star lineup of local chefs both days. Other activities planned for Yuma's homegrown celebration include head-to-head J.V. Smith Company “Chop Chop Culinary Challenge” cooking contests for both students and professionals, a ginormous salad bar sponsored by Tanimura & Antle and a Saturday tasting event that showcases specialties from local restaurants.
Throughout the weekend, there will be plenty of ag-related vendors on hand, live entertainment, and a special Dole Kids Ag-tivities area, complete with a free “petting farm.” Also on the Lettuce Days menu are farm tours, demonstrations of high-tech farming equipment and methods sponsored by Taylor Farms, a “test planting” of numerous strawberry varieties and a giant flower garden that will supply blossoms for live demonstrations by Yuma's Master Gardeners.
Put Arizona's freshest destination food event on your calendar now! Sure as Yuma sunshine, there will be a plate full of fun! Plans are still germinating, check for added ingredients at YumaLettuceDays.com.
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