Of all the sweets that autumn brings, none are as sugary as the fruits of Phoenix dactylifera, the date palm. Spanish missionaries introduced dates to California in the 1700s, followed by other introductions in the 1800s. In the United States, they are cultivated in the Coachella Valley and in some parts of Arizona – the only places where climate conditions will support fruiting. The specific origin of date palms is unknown, but thought to be somewhere in North Africa or the Persian Gulf region. They have been cultivated since prehistoric times (perhaps for over 8,000 years) and are a staple in the diets of many peoples.

Some of the most crucial work on a date farm happens long the before the fall harvest. For date palms to set good fruit, they must be hand-pollinated in late winter and early spring. To do this, a human pollinator must collect pollen from the male trees and dust it onto stigmas of the female flowers (the pollen from one male can pollinate about 50 females). Dates are harvested by hand from September to December.

In Season

September, October, November

Recipes with Dates

Date Pinwheel Cookies


Tipsy Chocolate Date Nut Gems

Carole Walter, author of Great Cookie: Secrets to Sensational Sweets

Cocktail: Invierno Fresca

Victoria Damato, Cent’Anni Cocktails.

Articles about Dates

August 15, 2014

10 Ways Farmers Are Saving Water

As California faces a historic drought, sustainability-minded farmers are using an arsenal of methods to conserve water.

August 08, 2014

Breeding a Better Chicken at Eatwell Farm

Eatwell Farm embarks on breeding their own heritage flock.

August 04, 2014

National Farmers Market Week

National Farmers Market Week is August 3-9! Celebrate by pledging your support for local farms and communities.

August 01, 2014

Rabbits, Pigs, and Herbs in Marin County

Take a behind-the-scenes look at Devil’s Gulch Ranch and Allstar Organics in Nicasio.

July 31, 2014

Volunteers of the Month: Summer Interns

CUESA says farewell and thanks to our summer interns, Sarah, Henry, and Janelle.


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and its educational programs. Learn More »