The fellow on the left has just stooped over and cut off the head of lettuce and is putting it in a plastic bag that he is bringing to the table on the front of the machine --
The lady in blue picks one up, twists the top and touches it down to the taper before placing it in the box --
The workers travel to the fields in large buses towing trailers with porta-potties --
We went to KOFA National Wildlife Refuge today. We had driven through the northern road of the refuge a month or so ago and wanted to see the main part of it. It was a great day for getting pictures of the early spring wild flowers! I'll share some of them tomorrow.
We took the back road out of Wellton through the farmland and got a chance to see the lettuce harvesting crews in action. Not only is it a great deal of hard work, lots of stooping to cut the lettuce, then straightening up to place them on the conveyor belt that puts them into the boxes. The crew we watched today was also placing the lettuce directly in plastic bags which were then sealed by another worker before they went up the conveyor belt into cartons ready to be shipped to grocery stores.
It was in the low eighties today -- just perfect for a tank top or short-sleeved shirt and shorts or capris. But not for these workers. They had on long pants, rubber boots, long sleeved shirts, aprons, hats, hair nets and face masks. They were working in as sanitary conditions in the field as you would be in a commercial kitchen.
We chatted a bit with one of the foreman who drove up in a pick-up. He said this is the last crop of lettuce for this year. (As it gets too hot, the lettuce "bolts" -- sends up seed stalks instead of making heads. ) They plant another crop of wheat or barley on the same fields.