The company was founded in 1924 by Floyd and Bess (Lugton) Shields. Floyd Shields was one of the pioneering date farmers in the still-young date industry of the Coachella Valley. He bred a number of his own hybrids and varieties including the “Blonde” and “Brunette” varieties, grown exclusively at Shields to this day.
Woodspur Farms, LLC
is the largest, integrated organic date farming operation in the U.S. in acreage and in volume. Woodspur Farms owns and operates farms that span from California’s Coachella Valley to the sun-soaked ranches of Yuma County, AZ with two facilities for packing, storing and transporting the fruit. Woodspur Farms grows Medjool, Deglet, Zahidi, Honey and other exotic organic dates.
Established in 1912...
By Ben and Lucy Laflin. Handed down to Ben Jr. and his wife, Pat, both graduates of the University of California at Berkeley. Ben Jr., with a Masters in Plant Pathology, had become renowned as one of a select few of the world’s most knowledgeable palm plant pathologists and consultants on date palms from California to the Middle East and Africa. Pat Laflin had taken Oasis Date Gardens from a domestic farming operation to a worldwide marketer of premium quality dates. Ben and Pat have since retired.
The Laflins initially planted several date varieties, including the deglet noor. In the mid-1940s, though, they found the date that would become their primary product: the medjool. The plump, rich “Cadillac of dates”, the medjool is native to Morocco, but the medjool trees there were almost eradicated by disease in the early 1900s. In 1927, Walter Swingle, a horticulturist with the USDA, came upon the last stand of healthy medjool palms in the Sahara and, with the blessing of the head sheik of the area, shipped 11 of their offshoots to America. They underwent quarantine and propagation, and 15 years later Laflin received one of the first allotments. The offshoots thrived in this soil, and when he sampled the fruit six years later, the luscious flavor and texture hooked him immediately. Ben’s favorite line was “A well-kept date garden is a majestic sight.”