We farm 8 acres of dates in the southern California desert. We are committed to providing the highest quality dates in their most natural state and at affordable prices. Our fruit is never heated, frozen, or altered from its natural state in any way. Dates grown on our farm are veganically-grown They are extremely nutritious, higher in potassium than bananas, also rich in iron, calcium and vitamins. If you are looking to balance your acid/alkaline state, dates are more alkaline than almost any other food.
In the late seventies, about the time many people my age were graduating from college, I decided to take up migrant farm work. There were several things that were really great about this type of work.
Travel was something I had always enjoyed and with this job the opportunity to see new places seemed endless. Being from the state of Michigan, following the crops south in the winter and north in the summer was very appealing. The warm winter climate and being surrounded by fresh tree-ripe fruit at all times of the year was almost enough in itself.
The idea of becoming a voluntary peasant seemed like a noble endeavor. Much peace of mind came from reconnecting with the earth and living a simpler, less competitive lifestyle in a rural setting.
The opportunity of working with people of other cultures was enriching. My co-workers were men and woman from other countries both near and far away. With the help of those around me, the Spanish language soon began to sink in.
For one aspiring to the ideal of right livelihood, organic field work is perfect because it provides a basic necessity of life to humanity and does not harm oneself or others in any way.
Best of all was the freedom which came from working the seasons. I was not weighed down by possessions, payments or worries and I was able to roam like a gypsy where ever I chose.
Setting a goal to work with every type of fruit grown on the North American continent, over the next six and a half years I would work over fifty seasonal farm jobs. From the blueberry fields of Maine to the citrus groves in Florida, and from the apple orchards of Washington State to the mango trees and cotton fields in the southern tip of Mexico where I labored as an undocumented farm worker. The adventure went on and on.
Organic farms in the seventies were few and far between, however they could be found here and there if you looked hard enough.
In the mid-eighties, the organic food movement began to gain serious momentum, especially in California, where I found myself in the right place at the right time. By leasing a small date grove, I got started farming, in spite of the fact that I had very little money. Through a series of rented date gardens, our farming operation grew through the years along with the demand for organic produce.
In the nineties, my wife and I bought land with money we made growing dates and planted date palms of our own.
When I first began picking fruit for a living, I never dreamed I would actually own and operate a farm myself, but through persistent hard work, a love for what I was doing, and a little luck, within just a few years, this somehow came to be, almost on its own. Around the turn of the new millennium, when the raw-vegan diet began to grow in popularity, we began selling the majority of our crop directly to the raw food community via mail order. This is how my life in agriculture began over 30 years ago, and the way it has unfolded so far.
Rancho Gecko is the home ranch. This place was bought for a song in 1998.
It was a tomato farm for quite some time back in the days when Niland, California was the winter tomato capital of the U.S. The market went elsewhere and whitefly came along so many of the vegetable growers had to give up. Like much of the farmland around here, the ranch lay fallow for a number of years till we came along and decided to try growing dates.
It was a gamble. The soil is heavier and the weather slightly different from the main date growing area in the Coachella Valley.There was only one other small date grove in the entire Imperial Valley at the time.
The first planting was a dismal failure. Most of the expensive offshoots were lost. After replanting as many as possible the next year and switching to drip hose instead of flood irrigation, it worked. Now there's about 7 acres planted in date palms, a few lemon trees and a big garden space. There's also a little house, an old packing shed, an antique wooden train car, and a small building we use as an office.
Our water comes from a canal that runs next to the land.
We like it here in Niland.
The Garden of the Rising Sun is what remains of one of the first date gardens planted in the U.S.
It's mixture of many differant date varieties that were being tried out when date growing in America was new.
The names of these varieties are lost so we had alot of fun renaming them ourselves.
This date grove is unique becaues it is dry farmed. There is a high water table so the palms have their roots in the water and no irrigation is required. Without surface irrigation weeds won't grow in the desert, so there is little need for tractoring. This is true sustainability.
This date garden has gone through many incarnations. As one of the earliy date groves it prospered and grew to encompass quite a few acres which included a large packing shed and housing for the workers. Here refugees from the dust bowl found shelter in the thirties. Later when the price of dates droped off many of the trees were sold to developers for transplanting as ornamentals. At one time there was an artisian well on the property which spang out of the ground on its' own accord. As more farms were established and began pumping water the well stoped flowing.This site was a haven for hippies in the sixties. Later it was purchased by a leader of the Muslim community of Los Angeles as a retreat center. Today the tall palms tower above the desert floor. The buildings are gone, and surounding area is returning to its' natural state.
For the pasted 22 years we've tended about an acre of dates here on a rental basis.
This date garden is featured in our video Harvest High.
People tell us we have the best dates. However, we can't take all the credit for that. One of the main reasons our dates are better is simply because we don't do anything to them.
Our dates are: