When we stopped by the Yuma Visitor Center to ask about what there is to see and do nearby, the helpful folks there made several suggestions, but emphasized that we really shouldn't miss Martha's Garden Date Farm Tour.
A little Internet research told us Martha's has regularly scheduled tours (10:30 AM and 1:30 PM) November through March for $10 per person. If they don't have 10 people signed up for the tour, the tour gets cancelled. Yet, they can only accommodate 20 on the tram, so advanced reservations are encouraged.
When we arrived at the Date Farm, we were told that the tour would be one and a half hours long. My first thoughts were: (a) I don't need to know that much about dates and (b) this could be really tedious. Turns out, the tour was fascinating, mostly due to our excellent tour guide, Chris Denning.
First things first. Martha's produces medjool dates. Medjools are big semi-sweet dates that people have cultivated for thousands of years in places hot and dry, such as the Middle East and, more recently, Yuma, Arizona. I'm enjoying one right now. EXCELLENT!
We had no idea raising dates could be this complicated. To say that date farming is labor-intensive would be a gross understatement. For example, to develop a commercially viable date crop, the female trees must be hand-pollinated. At one point on the tour, we observed this process.