Almost equidistant from Phoenix and San Diego, Sunny Yuma is actually the winter vegetable capital of the world. I had no idea so I’m guessing this information might be new to you, too. January through March is actually a great time to visit this part of Arizona, which is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s sunniest spot. Definitely leave the umbrella at home.
They even offered to give visitors free food on days that the sun didn’t shine between August 2011 and July 2012. Guess what? There was 365 days of sunshine, during that time period.
I haven’t been to Yuma, AZ in a long time, but I find the agritourism draw interesting enough to share. The opportunity for hands-on, farm-to-table learning experiences has piqued my interest in scheduling a road trip east.
Fun Yuma Agritourism Facts
Next time you eat a salad, think about this. Yuma is home to nine salad plants. From November through March, these plants produce up to 2 million pounds of lettuce each per day!
With rich soil, abundant water and more than 350 days of sunshine a year, Yuma enjoys the country’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 from November-March.
- The world’s top producer of gourmet Medjool dates.
- A top exporter of wheat to Italy, where it’s made into premium pasta.
- Arizona’s top producer of lemons, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon and canteloupe.
- Producer of more than 175 different crops and seeds.
Throughout 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 the local delicacy, date milkshakes. I love date milkshakes.
Yuma Lettuce Days (March 9-10, 2013)
Need plans this weekend? Yuma Lettuce Days is a culinary festival featuring celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations and contests, red-hot ice carvers, a farmers’ market and salad bar and a tasting event showcasing local restaurants. This year’s celebrity chef is Chef Ben Ford, owner of Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, CA and son of actor Harrison Ford. Fun fact: Sand dune scenes from Return of the Jedi were filmed in Yuma.
Yuma Lettuce Days
Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park on the Yuma riverfront
March 9 & 10
Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Tickets are $5, kids 12 & younger admitted free
Get the full schedule at yumalettucedays.com
Getting To Yuma, AZ Is Easy
From San Diego, take the I-8 and keep going east. It’s about 180 miles or a 2.5-hour drive. Los Angeles has an Amtrak train that heads to Yuma. Keep in mind, summers are extremely hot in Yuma.
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 casinos. For more details about Yuma’s year-round attractions, special events – and the rarely “cloudy with a chance of tacos” forecast – visit www.visityuma.com or call 800-293-0071.
*Photos courtesy of Visit Yuma