The riches of the earth are celebrated at Rancho Tres Estrellas, the 6-acre organic farm shepherded by Sarah Livia (Szekely) Brightwood to serve the culinary needs of Rancho La Puerta’s and La Cocina Que Canta’s kitchens, as well as further Fundación La Puerta’s efforts to create an educational agricultural resource for the people of Tecate.
The farm is a vibrant tapestry of orchards, intensively planted raised beds, and herbs—all of them managed via the organic and sustainable practices that have guided us since 1940.
Guests at Rancho La Puerta enjoy the flavors of freshly picked fruits and vegetables year-round. Visits to the organic farm, which is located about 2 miles up the valley from most of our facilities and accommodations, take place almost daily: a favorite is an early morning guided hike that combines a 2-mile walk through rolling meadows and chaparral with a welcoming breakfast, a tour of the gardens, and an introduction to the principles of organic farming led by our charismatic head gardener, Salvador Tinajero. Our ecological specialist, Enrique Ceballos, also assists Sarah Livia in the garden’s vision.
Guests no longer join in the day-to-day farming of organic vegetables and fruits as they did in the early days (but ask and you can often join the Tres Estrellas team to spend a few hours preparing or planting the soil). Still, there are many ways to draw strength from our exposure to clean, uncontaminated soil. We know that as humankind becomes longer-lived, the cumulative effect of all these chemicals inside our own bodies will threaten to grow more concentrated and precarious.
Before founding the Ranch with his wife Deborah, the Professor had met Sir Albert Howard, creator of the organic system of raising fruits and vegetables, and was familiar with Sir Albert’s 1940 book, “An Agricultural Testament.” Sir Albert had been an employee of the British government’s agricultural department when he went to India to teach Hindus to garden. He introduced the composting method and the use of earthworms—farming without chemical fertilizers—for he feared that chemicals altered the balance of the soil’s living organisms, among other precepts.
The Professor embraced these theories, as does his daughter Sarah Livia today.