There’s nothing quite like a Medjool date — just ask Evelyn Berryman. The date is thought to be the oldest tree crop cultivated by humans. With its tantalizing hints of honey, cinnamon and caramel, long shelf life, as well as the fruit's ability to be manipulated to bear larger fruit, dates have been grown in the Bard Valley region since the latter end of the 1930s after a few plants were transferred from Morocco to the United States in the 1920s.
Growing up in the Imperial Valley, Cory Peeks knew the kind of agricultural environment that surrounded her, but little did she know that one day she would be an integral part of that community. After spending a few years away from the Valley with her military husband and two daughters, Peeks and her family relocated back home for a better place to raise their kids and to have them grow up in the same tight-knit community that she treasured as a child. Shortly after getting settled, when the time came for Peeks to find a job, she reached out to family friends and community members that were looking to hire. To her surprise, and despite having no prior agricultural experience, she landed a job at Vessey & Company Inc. in the office and doing part-time food safety. However, things changed for Peeks shortly thereafter: “After our first informational audit, we figured out real quick that it was a full-time job, and right after the 2007 spinach outbreak I was hired on full-time, and have been here ever since.”
As a young child, Maria Lopez's summers were often spent visiting a number of scenic spots in California, Oregon and Washington state with her family. Even though the summer road trips always ended with the family settling down for a few months in Washington to harvest seasonal crops, Lopez says she enjoyed the experience and thought of it as a vacation.
Hours before the first bell rings and even before the sun rises, Gloria Juarez is at Imperial High School preparing for the day. Much of her work is done in the background of the operations of the school. She empties trash cans that will hold discarded graded papers or wrappers from the teenagers’ snacks eaten between classes, cleans white boards ready for lectures and problem-solving, and wipes desktops clean of stray marks.