Who would pay $60.00 to see a farm?

A busload of tourists, heading out to the farm.
A busload of tourists, heading out to the farms.

Four air-conditioned busses gathered at Collier County Extension office on Wednesday, March 20th. They filled with vacationers and home owners eager to learn about what’s growing “Beyond the Beaches”.

Once a year the extension office promotes agriculture/horticulture to the public and invites them on a day-long tour of nurseries, tomato fields, packing houses to see the size and significance of ‘ag.’ in Collier County.

I rode shotgun along with Dr.Mongi Zekri (citrus specialist) and Dr. Doug Caldwell (Collier Co. Commercial Hort. Agent) as we passed the microphone between us.

Our first stop was the most florid: 40 acres in full bloom at American Farms. Our guide there, Alex Salazar, gave detailed information about how they grow and ship hundreds of thousands of plants each year.

Alex Salazar shows off one of American Farms greenhouses.
Alex Salazar leads  us through American Farms mechanized potting area.

Other stops included an organic farm near Ave’ Maria University, lunch at a technical school in Immokalee, a shopping spree at the Farmer’s Market and concluded at Silver Strand: a 1000 acre citrus grove and nursery.

Each year the destinations change for variety. In previous years we have visited historical cattle ranch sites, tomato seed breeding greenhouses and a pineapple nursery.