A few weeks ago my dear friend Steve was visiting from San Francisco and we ventured to visit a Coachella Valley institution, Shields Date Farm. I knew that dates were grown here in the valley but I had no idea that over 90% of all dates consumed in the United States grow here. Shields Date Farm opened in 1924 and has been serving happy customers ever since.
A visit to Shields Date Farm reminds me of visits that I made as a child to an apple orchard in Michigan called Flavor Fruit Farm. Every fall my parents would take the family to Flavor Fruit Farm to buy apples, pumpkins and to have a cup of warm apple cider with a sugar-coated donut. Delicious. I took my pumpkins seriously and eventually planted my own pumpkin patch in our backyard and grew a prize-winning gourd for Halloween display. The pumpkin was so big that we had to place an incandescent light in the pumpkin instead of a more traditional candle.
Shields Date Farm is all date, all the time. The white washed wooden building houses a “soda counter” which serves delicious but caloric Date Milk Shakes, a cafe with a variety of food and of course an overwhelming amount of date products. I never knew that there were so many variety of dates including Medjool, Deglet Noor, Blonde, Brunette and Bread dates. All with difference levels of sweetness, texture and color. They come whole or pitted. They come rolled in coconut or nuts. They come stuffed with nuts, marzipan and dried fruits. They come in cake, crystals and sugar. You name it, you will find it. And, the store has hundreds of other great items that will make you smile and feel nostalgic.
So what about sex? Well, dates must be propagated from the offshoots and therefore, there is never a repeated date. Mr. Shields created a movie on the reproduction of the date with a film called, “Romance and the Sex Life of the Date” which is played in the original Romance Theater through store hours. You must learn more – certainly not to be missed and who knows, you may leave with some tips for your own bedroom! So much to explore in this amazing desert valley. I encourage you to come visit or find a day each week to explore something new (or something old) in your local area. Tell me where you are going to explore next!