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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Good Food News-The Bautista Family Date Ranch

I love this sticky sweet Civil Eats story. The Bautista Family Date Ranch is in the desert town of Mecca at the edge of the Salton Sea, in the middle of Southern California’s desert. This organic, family-run operation relies on numerous by-hand processes and 100+ free-ranging animals to produce seven varieties of the sweet fruit for their mail-order operation, 7HotDates, that has developed a fanatical following of date-lovers from around the country.

The family lives and works on the 14-acre property of 1,000 date palms, each of which produces 200 pounds of fruit every year. Their dates are a staple at farmers’ markets from Santa Monica to Palm Springs, and their online store regularly sells out for four months out of the year. The Bautistas begin climbing their trees in August to hand-pick individual fruits at peak ripeness.

This attention to variance in flavor and texture has earned them a cult following. As a certified organic operation, the Bautistas use free-ranging goats, cows, sheep, chickens, and even peacocks—known for killing snakes—to manage the property. “We have a zoo,” says Bautista patriarch Enrique, of the more than 100 animals that do their part to eat pests, trim weeds, graze on the cowpeas cover crop, and fertilize the soil with organic matter. The animals’ manure alone accomplishes 80 percent of the soil building.“[When] everything you do is for the trees, they’ll produce more,” says Enrique. “The more you invest, the more they give."

Who is ready for a sweet date?