Jonathan Dinsmore farms with his father in Yuma, Arizona. They’ve been growing lettuce for decades already.
Dinsmore Farms produces head lettuce (iceberg lettuce), fresh romaine and romaine hearts, red & green leaf mixed lettuce and alfalfa hay.
Romaine and romaine hearts are frequently grown from the same seed but farmers like Dinsmore plant the fields that will be harvested as romaine hearts more closely together so the plants will remain more columnar.
We talked a good bit about how his family looks at lettuce. Romaine hearts are a favorite of his but he loves a wedge salad with iceberg, his son agrees. But cultural issues early on for one of the kids means a funny story. He also throws romaine hearts on the grill.
Growing Lettuce & Followers
Jon has enjoyed getting to know other farmers growing lettuce in Michigan, Florida and Colorado & they stand in touch via social media. He’s especially a fan of Instagram where he is @TheFarmerJon. His love of photography has a family history too. Enjoys accounts like RAM628 (https://www.instagram.com/ram628/), Trevor Bales of @BalesHay https://www.instagram.com/baleshay/, and Jay Hill @HillJay45 https://www.instagram.com/hilljay45/.
On the farming side, Jon is looking forward to doing more drip irrigation is a method of putting water right in the root zone.
Food safety — there have been times when lettuce was having concerns. Jon stresses food safety and he sees the farmers in his area all looking at this. The Leafy Greens Marketing Association and the Yuma Safe Produce Council. These groups have been showing the kinds of water testing, employee training, field measures, etc. and now we are going further to sanitize irrigation water for 21 days prior to harvest.
Irrigation water in Yuma comes from the Colorado River. It is valued, conserved and efforts made to limit foreign objects, and now they are sanitizing the water.
Workers in the field have a number of precautions to take, including rubber boot, gloves, sometimes customers ask us to go above the standards too. Standards also require inspection for animal tracks, etc.
They want to be sure vegetables going onto the plates are as safe as possible. That said, we should all always wash your lettuce.
Take a Farm Tour with Jon
Before we recorded this episode with Jon, he gave me a tour of the farm, showing us some of the things he talked about. Check out that video tour and more on the post “Visiting a Lettuce Farm — Where Salads Get Their Start.”