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Artisan Marketplace Preview: Rancho Meladuco Date Farm


Rancho Meladuco Date Farm is inspiring a whole new audience for dates.

Rancho Meladuco Date Farm was founded by Joan Smith in the Fall of 2015. She is a resident of Orange County California, mother of 3, CPA by trade, and most recently date farmer. She grew up in Bakersfield, California and spent her youth exploring 640 acres of rolling foothills and helping her family care for their cattle. Her childhood instilled in her a passion for working the land and a deep admiration for the people who provide food doing it.

Growing and cooking good food has been a lifelong joy for Joan. She bought her first farmhouse at 28, and transformed the neglected acreage into a beautiful and productive garden. She then met her husband on a blind date, and moved to Newport Beach. They bought a membership in a century-old duck hunting club just outside Mecca, at the north end of the Salton Sea (near Coachella), which just so happens to be the best date-growing region in the US. Eventually they had the opportunity to buy out the other owners, leading them where they are today.

Long ago, someone planted seven date palms on the property. A freelance “palmero” came several times throughout the year to maintain the trees, pollinate the bunches, and harvest dates as they ripened. Joan and her family were blown away by the large, sweet Medjool dates their trees produced. When they started sharing them with friends and family, they got so many raving reviews that they quickly got to the point of keeping a wait list for the next season’s dates. They began planting more date palms, and the idea of their date farm was born.

Joan began farming dates two years ago this past October, and hasn’t looked back. Today they grow more than one hundred trees with plans to add more this Spring, they’ve launched their website for online orders and recently opened The Date Shop in Newport Beach where they sell their dates. This mission combines so many things she is passionate about – delicious food, connecting with people, and giving back to fight hunger.  They have big plans for the future, including ideas such as introducing dates on school lunch menus.  They’re also expanding into other types of dates less well known in the US like the Bahri, and are growing a few “heirloom” varieties.

The past two years have been a journey of small miracles. Things have fallen into place at just the right time which only affirms their feeling that they are on track to build something amazing. Their goals are simple: To grow and procure the best tasting dates possible and cultivate a broader audience in the US for the delicious and nutritious date.  In short, to make dates a new national obsession.

Come taste and purchase Rancho Meladuco dates at the ENC Artisans Marketplace on December 2! More info HERE.

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