|March 23, 2012||Posted by admin under Agriculture, FAPC, Farms, Produce|
Imagine if you will a mile-long stretch of wild arugula about two to four feet wide. I thought I was in heaven with its distinct aroma permeating through the air. Well, I was not actually in heaven, but somewhere between Belle Glade and Loxahatchee, Florida. I took part in the Florida Postharvest Horticulture Tour that was hosted by University of Florida and IFAS Extension. It was a windy day on Tuesday, March 6th and our group had planned to visit several farms and packing facilities near the Lake Okeechobee region.
It was definitely a sight to see as we passed by acres and acres of green vegetation, in contrast to the black soil. Because it was so flat you could see from horizon to horizon vegetable crops and rows of sugar cane in every direction with the huge blue sky overhead.
As part of our tour we stopped at Hundley Farms and Grower’s Management Inc., where we had the chance to actually see for ourselves how vegetables were harvested. The farm manager explained to us how operations were conducted, sometimes utilizing mechanical harvesters, and how most of the time leafy vegetables are harvested by hand. It basically looked like an assembly line in a factory, but instead it was actually out in the field.
The wild arugula looked great and smelled wonderful. I was mostly impressed by the consistency of quality across several of the mile-long strips of wild arugula at different growth stages.
It was only recently that I have gained a special appreciation for arugula since my last family visit. My family met together to have a dinner party. They served pizza and bruschetta topped with fresh arugula leaves. I’ve seen arugula in salads but I never had it this way. I loved it and now arugula has become a regular part of my family diet. It has a sort of peppery flavor for a leafy green but not as bitter as spinach leaves. I liked arugula so much that I even grew it in my screened porch area in planters last year. I’m planning to acquire some more potting soil and plant some more this spring alongside cilantro, another family favorite.