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

July 18, 2014

Meet Marcy

CUESA is excited to welcome our new executive director, Marcy Coburn! Find out what inspires her work.

July 11, 2014

Farm Tripping

Summer is prime time for agritourism. Here’s our list of local U-picks, tours, and other farm fun.

July 09, 2014

A Fond Farewell from Critical Edge Knife Sharpening

Bob Kattenburg retires after 19 years as the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market’s knife sharpener.

July 04, 2014

On the Farm at Marin Roots

Take a behind-the-scenes look at organic veggie growing with the young farmers at Marin Roots Farm.

July 02, 2014

Volunteer of the Month: Rafael Zuniga

Rafael’s passion for good food stems from his work with children and youth.


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 »