It’s said that date palm trees want their feet in water, and their heads in fire. It makes sense, then that more than 90% of the dates harvested in the U.S. grow in California’s Eastern Coachella Valley. Irrigation water is pumped here from the Colorado River, and summer temperatures can top 120 degrees. Reporter Lisa Morehouse spent some time in the Eastern Coachella Valley this spring, and got curious about the history of dates here, and about the palmeros, palm workers, who tend them.
Lisa Morehouse is an award-winning independent public radio and print journalist, who’s filed for KQED’s The California Report, NPR’s Latino USA and All Things Considered, Edutopia magazine and McSweeney’s. Her reporting has taken her from Samoan traveling circuses to Mississippi Delta classrooms to the homes of Lao refugees in rural Iowa. She’s currently working on After The Gold Rush: The Future of Rural California, an audio documentary website and series. A former public school teacher, Morehouse also works with at-risk youth to produce radio diaries.