It proved to be a very busy day in Yuma for us. Wearing our farmer hat we were off early to learn all about growing dates at Martha's Gardens. Here tours are conducted showing how the palm trees are grown, cared for and harvest Medjool dates. Martha's is a farm founded by Nels and Martha Rogers in 1990 and today is one of the leading date producers in Arizona.
Our guide was Chris Denning who is sales and operations manager.
Several miles from the City we arrived at a grove of palm trees that extended in rows offering a lush green in shady splendor. Chris had a lot to tell us. There are both male and female trees with the male trees providing the pollen for the female trees. This pollination is not left to chance. The pollen is gathered from the male trees, treated and then sprayed onto the female trees. In the grove we saw, which had hundreds of trees, the ratio is one male tree to 50 female trees which actually grow the dates. There is one crop a year with harvest in September.
We learned just how intensive the labor is in caring for the trees throughout the year. Chris Denning is also marketing manager and explained that much of the crop is exported to countries around the world and that only in recent years has the domestic market started to expand. All processing of the fruit is done on site and there is also a store and fountain for enjoying the famed date shakes and ours was truly delicious.
Martha's Gardens Date Farm is located at 9747 S. Ave. 9, East Yuma, web.www.marthasgardensdatefarm.com. For information on when tours are given call 928 581-0802.
We also visited The Peanut Patch which has been a Yuma landmark since 1952. Owner Donna George was there to give us a briefing on what peanut bushes look like, how they grow and are harvested and what the peanut process entails. Donna took over in 1997. The bushes are planted in early Spring and then turned over to be field dried before gathered in the Fall by a mechanical harvester.
The peanuts are then sorted for quality and planned use. We were surprised to learn Spanish peanuts are from the same plant. The Peanut Plant processes the peanuts and also makes peanut butter and peanut brittle on the premises as well as a large selection of chocolate confections. The Peanut Plant is located at 4322 E. County 13th Street. On the web at www:peanutpatch.com.