Farm Day returns to SalinasSALINAS, Calif. Growers, processors and seed companies volunteered their time for elementary school students as the Farm Day Experience returned to Salinas.

The Feb. 6 event at Growers Street Cooling is one of three annual events the others are in King City and Monterey that reach about 7,800 third graders, backed by more than 1,500 adults and teachers.

Monterey County Agricultural Education Inc. offers the educational program on food production. The nonprofit is funded by grower-shippers and other Salinas Valley businesses.

Andrew Williams, manager of raw sourcing for Chiquita Brands International, explained to children how salads are washed, dried and placed into bags sealed at a rate of 6,000 per hour on a Fresh Express line and how sliced apples end up in Happy Meals.

"We produce them here in Salinas," Frank Garcia, also representing Fresh Express, told the students. "We"re selling them to McDonald"s."

Garcia outlined the challenges growers and shippers face in bringing lettuce and other fresh produce to market.

Lindsay Coate, executive director of the nonprofit Ag Against Hunger, led sessions on healthy eating using MyPlate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture icon that recommends half a plate of fruits and vegetables at meals. Her station was not the only one with a presenter holding MyPlate in hand.

Vegetable breeder Enza Zaden displayed some of the crops their seeds produce.

Ranchers and nurseries offered demonstrations as well.