|Oasis Date Gardens in Thermal, Calif. (Julianne G. Crane)|
If you are a Snowbird migrating through the arid regions of the Coachella Valley in southern California, you can’t help but be lured by the “Ice Cold Date Shakes Just Ahead” signs that dot the highways around Palm Springs, Indio and Desert Hot Springs.
|Shady picnic area (Julianne G. Crane|
On one hot day, as we were traveling along CA. 111 in Thermal, we pulled into the Oasis Date Gardens parking lot.
In addition to an inviting shady picnic area outside, the cool inside offers a Ranch Store, Sampling area, Cafe and a small theater that shows a video on how dates are grown. There is an antique farm implement display where visitors can guess their use from days gone past.
If you are there at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. stay for the educational talk.
We discovered that California dates have grown in the desert oasis of the Coachella Valley for more than a century. “A place where date palms flourish in high summer temperatures and low humidity with minimal rainfall during the summer and fall.”
We were also happy to learn that Oasis Date Gardens has been certified organic since 2000. The owners “not only believe that it is important to grow a beautiful varietal date, but also one that is rich in flavor. We believe the best way to ensure that our dates reach their full sweetness and flavor is to use natural fertilizers and let the tree ripen the date to the fullest extent possible,” according to the company’s literature.
|Jimmy Smith sampling dates. (Julianne G. Crane)|
“Consequently, Oasis Date Gardens has adopted an organic farming approach to growing and processing their dates. In plain simple terms this means that all fertilizers are natural, such as using composted chicken litter or cover crops to enhance the nutrients of the soil rather than chemical fertilizers. Also no chemicals or pesticides are used in the gardens. Only natural elements approved under the guidelines established by the National Organic Standard.”
During our visit to the store we sampled many tasty organic varieties of locally-grown dates.
We next stepped over to the cafe (between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.) to check out the date cakes, cookies, bread and pies baked fresh daily. The menu includes salads and deli sandwiches (between $7 and $8). Above all, you must try their famous date shake for $4.
|(Julianne G. Crane)|
If you go:
Oasis Date Gardens
59-111 Grapefruit Blvd.
Thermal, CA 92274
Store Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.