One of the first groves ever planted in the Arcadia area was the Black Sphinx date palm in or around 1917. The pups were brought from Arabia and planted just South of Lafayette between 46th and 47th Place. The grove still stands today with 400+ trees. In 1954 the area was subdivided and houses were carefully built amongst the trees to minimize tree removal. Neighbors who live here liken the area to a rain-forest canopy.
Several years ago, with guidance from a long-time “datilero”, Harry Polk, I started harvesting the dates from the trees in my yard as well as those of my next-door neighbors. If you would like stop by my house at 4641 E. Calle Redonda (602-840-0622), I have dates available for $7 per 1-pound box.
The plump moist fruit, almost jet black in color, has a delicate flavor and creamy texture. They are delicious right out of the box, or stuffed with blue cheese, goat cheese, chocolates or nuts; they are also wonderful in salads or as a glaze for chicken.
One of my favorite recipes is for Moroccan Chicken and Date Tangine from Food.comhttp://www.food.com/recipe/moroccan-chicken-and-date-tagine-44107
Twenty-five years ago, I would take a morning walk with my young children. Each day we would pass an elderly man working in his big, beautiful garden.The old man would sit on the ground in the shade of his mulberry tree, thinning his carrots or weeding between the cabbages. This man let me stop and inquire; He let me just sit and watch and learn.
This is what we need now. Neighbors that are willing to learn together. Gardening is an art, it takes time, effort and passion. Many of us have been doing this for years, others are ready to begin. It's time to plant a garden. It's time to put our hands in the earth and bring our food back home.
The idea came to me last spring. Our five year old peach tree was once again demonstrating what abundance really means. For two weeks, we picked, peeled, bottled and froze our luscious Desert Gold Peaches. In the meantime this ''new" organic movement was finally blossoming. I knew people would really appreciate fresh, homegrown peaches right in their own neighborhood! I know this is not a new idea, but you really don't see it very often these days.
Our first step was to make a sign. Then we bagged our peaches, set up a table, and asked for $3 a bag. I put four bags on the table and within an hour they were all gone. On Saturdays we offered a special treat that became a favorite, peach cobbler. Finally, my peach harvest was over. At the grocery store, later that week, neighbors would stop me and tell me how wonderful my peaches were!
Really, all gardeners could be doing this! Each neighborhood is like a small village. We should be able to share our gifts and talents whatever they may be. As gardeners, we can share planning and information. We can offer hands on experience, knowledge and support. We can sell, trade or exchange our harvest. I would like to think that one day this may even evolve into a neighborhood farmers market. So where do we start? In our own backyards. One seed at a time.
Where do we start?
This blog was created as a resource for local neighbors to connect and support one another. If you are a gardener, or are interested in becoming one, or if you are a neighbor that would like to have access to organic produce from around the corner, we invite you to join us. We believe that this can be a fun experience, and although providing food for your family and possibly your community is not new, this generation is in the process of re-learning the age old art of gardening. If you have a garden blog or would like to create one for others to view please contact or send your link to Jill@SweetLifeGarden.com
"Twenty million Americans answered the call to plant Victory gardens. 40% of all that consumed was produced in the backyards of America. Citizens considered their gardens a community effort and a national duty. Victory gardens were vegetable gardens planted during World War II to ensure an adequate food supply for civilians and troops. The goal was to produce enough fresh vegetables through the summer for the immediate family and neighbors. Any excess produce was canned and preserved for the winter and early spring until next years victory garden produce was ripe."