Some Valley farms grow fields of foods that are never eaten, but their purpose is no less important — it’s grown for seed.
John Avila of Central Valley Seeds knows how important good seeds are. He says, “Without seeds you’re not going to have any field crops. You’re not going to have it. It’s got to come from somewhere.”
And if it’s lettuce, its seed might come from this farm near Five Points.
Avila says, “We grow different types of lettuce, greens, romaines, head types, reds, all of the loose leafs. This is a head type. If you were to see it in a commercial field it would be a head type lettuce. You can’t tell from it now because it is in its seed stage.”
Avila says the Valley’s weather is perfect to grow the seed they sell worldwide. “Dryness and the heat. Anytime you have anything you want to plant for seed you need the heat in order for it to grow past the market stage.”
It’s the same lettuce you buy in the grocery store, in a later stage of life.
“They have laterals that will come out and then flowers. Like this right here. But once the flowers are established then it produces the seed and you see the little cotton in here and in there will be the seed. And this is what we’re after right here. Lettuce seed is very tiny.”
The seeds are collected in trailers and then spread to dry on canvas. Leaves are raked out before it is taken to a mill for fine work. There, it is sifted and cleaned leaving just the seeds, ready for planting the next generation.