Name: Travis Kennedy
Farm: Davall Date Gardens
Location: Indio, CA
What they grow: Since 1912, the DaVall family has been growing some of the finest dates in the Coachella Valley. Currently their selection includes Degleet Noor, Medjool, Barhi, Empress, and Honey.
Where to buy: Farmers markets including Tuesday in downtown Santa Barbara, Thursdays in Carpinteria, Saturday in downtown Santa Barbara, and Sunday in Goleta.
In season now: With the impeding harvest in late summer/early fall, there will be a plentiful selection of succulent dates, perfect for baking and the holidays.
Their story: For over 100 years, the DaVall family has been growing date palms. With over 600 plants, their late summer harvest brings in a plentiful supply of these nutrient packed snacks, perfect for adults and children alike.
“Kids love the honey varietal – soft and sweet!” said Kennedy, who started working for DaVall via word-of-mouth.“They are also great for making a date paste to sweeten things.”
A three-year veteran of the farmers markets, Kennedy hopes to inspire others to enjoy these healthy snacks. “I like the type of people that come to the markets – they are knowledgeable and aware that the best quality food comes from farmers,” he said.
Each variety has its own character. The Barhi, a smaller and lighter varietal, tastes like butterscotch, while the Medjool has a caramel-like flavor and a firmer/meatier texture. While these dates are great for raw recipes (due to their earthy nature), the Empress dates have become a market favorite – chewy on outside but with a soft center and mild sweetness.
“Dates are the perfect snack for satisfying any sweet tooth,” said Kennedy.
In addition to their popularity as a snack, dates are also jam packed with antioxidants and minerals - from potassium and magnesium to iron and fiber. Because they are in the grass family of plants, they are not related to other common foods, bringing a whole different nutrient profile to one’s diet.
“Dates were the first cultivated fruit, brought over from the Middle East,” said Kennedy. “The DaVall’s were pioneers in this process, aiding the growth of date farming in the Valley.”