A Vibrant City
Palm Springs has it all
September 20, 2016
When the first non-native inhabitants started settling in the Coachella Valley in the early 20th century, they looked to agriculture to provide both food and commerce for the budding desert communities. Water was available through wells and aqueducts sourced from the Whitewater River, which flowed out of the San Bernardino mountains. The railroad had been established between Phoenix and Los Angeles and provided a mechanism for getting produce to larger markets. With this backdrop, Floyd and Bess Shields started Shields Date Garden in 1924.
The Shields had a passion for date culture and worked hard to not only establish the garden but also educate their customers. Floyd initially gave a lecture in the garden but as both him and his talk grew in popularity, it evolved into a slide show and then into a recorded slide show. Today you can view the 15-minute film “Romance and Sex Life of the Date” in the store and still hear Floyd speak about his passion for dates, a natural snack high in potassium yet no fat or sodium.
Floyd’s passion for dates led him to breed his own varieties including their famous and exclusive “Blond” and “Brunette” dates. Floyd also developed a blend of dates processed into a dry product called Date Crystal® which has no preservatives and requires no refrigeration. Date Crystal® can be used for cooking, on cereals and is the main ingredient in Shield’s famous Date Shakes. Shields Date Garden continues to use traditional farming techniques with no chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
A signature feature of Shields Date Garden is the stroll through the 17-acre date farm. The horticulture and landscape team completed a garden path in 2013 which features statuary depicting 14 scenes from the New Testament. The biblical garden was originally set in Vancouver, Canada by William and Lillian Vandersaim who worked with Shields Date Garden to transfer the statuary to the Palm Springs area when they sold the Vancouver land. Take a leisurely stroll guided by an audio tour on your smart phone and enjoy the beauty of the date garden.
The Cafe at Shields Date Garden is the perfect spot to enjoy breakfast/lunch or dinner al fresco while gazing out at the rose garden, date palms and mountain views. The menu features fresh, delicious traditional American and Mexican dishes that are good for you, including dishes incorporating dates to add a healthful and delicious sweetness. Customer favorites include the Date Pancakes and Shields Signature Salad. There is something for everyone on the menu including individuals sensitive to gluten, lactose and sugar. Come discover a new twist on old favorites!
You can’t leave Shields Date Garden without a stop at the store. Many different types of dates are available for sale including Medjool, Deglet Noor, Blonde and Brunette Dates. If you can’t decide which dates to choose, get a variety sampler and enjoy them all! Also available are figs, walnuts, candied cherries, pears and apricots. If you can’t make it to the store, you can also place an order online.
Shields Date Garden is located in Indio, CA at 80-225 U.S. Highway 111 and is about a 30-minute drive from Palm Springs, CA. The Shields Date Garden Store is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The Shields Date Garden Cafe is open daily from 7:00 am – 2:30 pm for breakfast/lunch and from 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm for dinner.
Photo Credit: Erik Scheel, Stocksnap.io