Flying Disc Ranch

Robert Lower

In 1979, when Robert Lower purchased the parcel where Flyng Disc Ranch exists today, it was barren desert that had never been farmed before. He leveled it, piped it, and planted it, and eventually created a forest-like oasis producing dates, citrus, figs, pomegranates and table grapes.

The date palms must be dethroned, pollinated, tied down, bagged, harvested, and pruned twice at different points in the year. When the medjhool dates are thinned, a worker can spend up to six hours in just one tree! These delectable fruits are a wonderful alternative to other sweets, and are a good source of dietary fiber and potassium.

Although the ranch is not currently certified organic, Robert has used ecological practices since his first season and has never used non-organic sprays or petroleum-based fertilizers. He describes his practices as “eco-dynamic” because he is inspired by biodynamic ideas. Flying Disc has an open-door policy to visitors and offers a personal guarantee that they grow according to organic and permaculture principles.


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Markets:South Berkeley (Tuesday)Downtown Berkeley (Saturday)Season:
September – JulyProduct: 11 varieties of dates and Marsh Ruby Blush grapefruitFarmer's Name: Robert LowerMailing Address: P.O.Box 201
Thermal, CA 92274
Email: christinakelso@gmail.com,flyingdiscranch@msn.com
Phone: (760) 399-5313
Website: www.flyingdiscranch.comFarm Location:
Thermal, Riverside County, CADistance From Berkeley:
525 milesSoil Type: Sandy loamWater Source: Well, Colorado riverAbout the Farm:
Flying Disc Ranch is owned and managed by Robert Lower, who has been growing dates since 1974. He works closely with Pedro and Carolina Medina, Christina Kelso, and interested persons who come to work for one or more months at a time.Organic Certification: Not Certified Organic, biodynamic practicesFertilizer: Compost produced on site using trimmings, branches, leaves, and sticks from the date palms mixed with water and chicken manureWeed Control: Mulch, mowingPest Management: Robert Lower maintains on-farm habitat for beneficial pests. He never tills his orchards, which means that the ranch is covered with a grassy, living mulch. The insect population on the farm includes black widow, vinegar rune, brown recluse and wolf spiders, and several types of ants and wasps. Owls, bats, dragonflies, snakes, rattlesnakes, scorpions, hawks, and peregrine falcons also help out on the farm.Acreage: 10 acres