House Grown: Winter leafy greens are a billion greenback business

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April Hettinger from CBS 13 looks at the district’s economic competitors

YUMA, Arizona (KYMA, KECY) – The southwest of the desert is approaching a time of year when leafy vegetables are breathing new life into the economy, which the community needs more than ever this year.

November is a significant month in Arizona as it ushers in the 6-month winter lettuce harvest season, which is the driving force behind Yuma’s economy.

John Boelts, a farmer at Desert Premium Farms, says it always puts a smile on your face when you can load boxes of healthy salad.

“We’re excited to be celebrating Green Leaf Month here in Arizona, and green leaf is big business,” said Boelts. “You know, the vegetable production business here in Yuma County, if you include all of the vegetables other than leafy greens, it’s a billions of dollars a year with economic implications.”

But the winter lettuce industry is taking up most of the loan.

“We know right here in the Yuma community that the direct impact is likely to be a little over a billion dollars,” Boelts said.

And that only from leafy vegetables.

An increase in the number of farmers is also the engine of the economy as harvesting leafy vegetables is labor intensive and requires precision.

“Leafy vegetables are very tender and need to be handled with care, so skilled hands are required, and we have plenty of them here in Yuma,” explained Boelts.

Other industries that power Yuma’s economy are tourism and military bases, but these are incomparable to what agriculture does.

“When you put all of these industries together, they still don’t match the overall impact of agriculture, and the main driver behind the impact of agriculture on the economy is of course the green leaf business,” explained Boelts.

This year’s harvest started a few days ago and the economic momentum will continue until the beginning of April.

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