Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Veggies and Birds Galore in El Centro, CA

We first heard about the University of California farm tours a couple of years ago from John and Pam, it immediately went on my list of must-do's whenever we could plan a time to stop in El Centro, CA.

Most of the year the tours are for children, but for a couple of months in the winter Farm Smart holds tours several days a week that are geared towards adults. For $25 you learn all about how the Colorado River was diverted to the Imperial Valley in the early 1900's and current farming practices in the area, You are toured around the property to learn how the University does research on farming practices for the future, plus you get lunch and a chance to pick all you can carry of the current crops in season.

If you love vegetables and have an interest in how crops are produced in the Imperial Valley this is a fun way to spend a day...here's a peak at our day:


The first time we've seen burrowing owls!

They watched the trolleys pass by...so cute!

Me, siphoning water from a canal into a ditch.
Some farms still use this method, apparently the pros can start the water running with one swoop!

Hans picked a scary looking purple carrot!

It was super windy as we filled our big orange produce bags.

Our haul...we may have gotten a little carried away!
Fortunately we'll meet up with some friends at our next stop so we can share the wealth!

We stayed at Sunbeam Lake RV Resort just West of El Centro. This large park is perched on the edge of a man made lake and mostly caters to seasonal visitors from Canada and other cold climates in the Northern US.

We had a perfectly fine gravel site with a concrete patio and picnic table and plenty of room for our truck. Roads are paved. Park wifi was slow but it worked. Verizon signal was excellent. The park is far enough off Interstate 8 that you can barely hear it. Hans played pickleball with a friendly group of people each morning and we both enjoyed the 9 hole disc golf course at the attached county park.

A pleasant surprise at this location was the many birds we saw on our evening walk. Sunbeam Lake is split into two sections, one abuts the RV Park and County Park, the second runs from the edge of the RV park to Interstate 8. Thousands of egrets and hundreds of cormorants and northern shovelers would come to roost in the salt cedar trees along the second lake each evening at sundown!

Salt cedar covered in egrets!
The cormorants liked the tops of the trees and the bare stumps sticking out of the water.

Looking down the lake you can see each tree on the right covered in white egrets.



Golden field adjacent to the lake.



Next stop Yuma, AZ for dental and pickleball!



24 comments:

  1. Nice pictures of flora and fauna from America's market basket. Few people who whiz by El Centro on I-8 have any idea of the importance this hot desert place has in providing so much produce to ur groceery stores.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true! It's neat that they hold school programs to inform kids where their food comes from.

      Delete
  2. Nice veggie haul! Love the tree loaded with egrets. You're off to a great start on the road.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yeah! Produce, wildlife, big vistas...love being on the road!

      Delete
  3. The lake looks high!, with so many birds. A great time to be visiting. Nice haul of veggies, is all that included in the tour? The 11th is the Carrot Festival, after the parade the veggies used on the floats are up for grabs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the produce is included! Whatever you can pack into a giant bag they give each person on the tour!

      I never knew that Holtville was the carrot capital of the US before this tour!

      Delete
  4. Wow, you made quite the haul of gorgeous veggies! That giant carrot Hans is holding looks like some kind of lobster—or alien. Was there any talk about organic farming practices on the tour? You sure saw an abundance of birdlife, too. Looks like a great beginning to getting back on the road!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They did have one plot that had just received organic status.

      So far, so good!

      Delete
  5. I have to get this tour in our route! The birds are incredible. The cormorants' on the branch is a beautiful shot.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a haul...this is definitely on our list too! The burrowing owls are so cute! Love the shadow of yiu two and the lone tree in the field at sunset! Thanks for the campground review!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Glad you enjoyed the day and got a great haul of fresh produce! I got a giant bag of carrots from Dave and Sue. I was worried they might be tough, but, they are so sweet and tender!! We had grilled carrots with our dinner and I cut up a nice bag of discs to snack on raw:) There weren't any carrots when we went. Love those trees filled with birds! So cool!! See you real soon:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for bringing this place to our attention! Fits right in with my determination to eat lots more veggies!

      Delete
  8. How cool is that. Love the idea of the veggies, and how fun to see all those birds.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mike and I will also put that tour on our list! So Cool to see all the birds!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think you guys would love both parts of this stopover!

      Delete
  10. Wow, you were really in your "gardening element" there! I regret not taking that tour when I was spending a whole month in Yuma...just too lazy to drive over there. I never thought I would say "I miss having a kitchen," but it's hard getting fresh greens here in Mexico otherwise...tacos, tacos, and more tacos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But....tacos! I am shocked you are missing your kitchen!

      Delete
  11. Wow...lots of veggies and birds! Very cool. Love the Burrowing Owls. I have never seen them in the flesh, yet. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in Yuma.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow, that is indeed a haul of veggies. Sounds like a fun day and all those birds - wow!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Im really bummed out I totally forgot about this place :(
    Wow, veggies and birds! Now I really have to better plan next time!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Me too the first time to see the owl in burrow. You have got a good collection of vegetables:)

    ReplyDelete