On Scene - Farm Tour in California's Coachella Valley
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COACHELLA VALLEY, Calif. — The Packer's Northeast editor, Amy Sowder, goes west to join the farm tours at West Coast Produce Expo. 

The tour, which was mostly for produce buyers, began with breakfast and a first stop at North Shore Living Herbs + Greens, Thermal, Calif., where visitors looked at a sea of basil and saw the high-tech ways the company uses geothermal power and mechanized growing.

The green bell pepper fields spread before visitors at the second stop at Baloian Farms, which works with Belk Farms. The rows were line with white shades to protect the crop from wind storms, "our No. 1 enemy," said Drew Belk. Farmworkers were hand-picking the bell peppers with orange buckets, but there was a nearby conveyor belt to box them and truck them out of the field for more efficiency.

Finally, the tour visitors stopped at Tudor Ranch, Mecca, Calif., where they saw green seedless table grapes and dates. Chance and George Tudor both discussed their growing methods and the local climate's resources and challenges.

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