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Earl’s Organic Visited Lakeside Organic Gardens in Watsonville

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Ethan and Jackie from purchasing, Susan from marketing and Kalea from the warehouse toured the Lakeside Organic coolers and fields for a sneak peek inside their operation in Watsonville. After gearing up we walked through their new 50,000 square foot cooler. One wall of the coolers backs up to the docks where trucks wait at all hours to be loaded with their orders. Next to the dock is a room where truck drivers can sit and watch a monitor showing their trucks being loaded pallet by pallet, have a snack, relax and stay warm. 

Jackie, Kalea and Susan

Heading back into the chilly cooler we noticed each section of the enormous cooler was clearly labeled with the produce items stored. Walking past pallets of produce along a very long aisle our last stop was the pressure tunnel room lined with giant fans. This room is used to remove the field heat out of dense produce like cauliflower, in order to maintain the shelf life of the produce as it travels to from the farm to retailer and eventually the consumer’s kitchen table. Ten pallets of produce are lined up in front of each fan, a tarp is dropped down above and in back of the row of pallets in order to create a suction. The fans are turned on, sucking out the hot air through the holes in the cartons until it reaches the desired temperature. Cooling down 10 pallets takes about 3 hours. 

Out on the dock there is a hydro cooling machine, which distributes chilled water over the produce to cool it down to the desired temperatures. Celery, leafy greens and green onions are a few commodities cooled with this method.  Watch it here http://bit.ly/lakesidehydrocooling

Pressure Tunnel Room

NOTE: Lakeside has 4 cooling procedures: The hydro Vac, Ice Injection, Hydro cooler, (shown in video) and Pressure Tunnels-forced air cooling (shown in photo)

ONTO THE FIELDS

After touring the coolers we all jumped into a truck and headed to the kale and collard fields were the farmworkers were skillfully picking, bundling and tying each bunch with a speed that comes with practice.  Each bundle is then carefully packed in a Lakeside box on the field. Watch for yourself! http://bit.ly/packinglakesidecollards

Packing Collards

Next up was a ride to a sweet baby broccoli field where the workers wear a large bag like a backpack on their back. Each worker walks the field, cuts and bundles the baby broccoli and ties it with a Lakeside Organic tag on the field. The bunches are placed into their bags as they continue to walk up the hill. Many workers like to tie a ribbon at the front or end of their row to indicate that section is their row. 

Harvesting Sweet Baby Broccoli

After the bag has been filled the workers head to the bottom of the hill where they grab a Lakeside box off a pallet and start to build their own box. Look how beautiful this sweet baby broccoli pack out is! The team has a new appreciation for the skill with which each item of produce is harvested and placed in each box.  More on our tour in our next blog!

Each workers packs their own box of sweet baby broccoli
What a gorgeous pack out!
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