“The restoration of man on the earth depends on his adoption of a wise, altruistic line of conduct giving him health and life. Such a line of conduct must extend to the soil of the earth … Blessing comes through harmony with the laws of nature..”
–Edmond Szekely, “Cosmos, Man and Society,” 1936
As we embark upon our 70th year, Rancho La Puerta is especially proud of its 70-year commitment to the health of our natural world. We trace our green roots to the philosophy of our founder, Edmond Szekely, who, along with his wife Deborah, took inspiration from these surroundings. Throughout our history, the Ranch’s many eco-programs have played a pivotal role in our guests’ experience, as well as our efforts to initiate and explore forward-thinking activities in the community of Tecate, the trans-border region, and beyond. Today our president, Sarah Livia Szekely Brightwood, continues to protect and guide the Ranch’s relationship with its natural world as we explore the many exciting challenges that lie ahead.
A part of the community… At Rancho La Puerta our staff is constantly looking for ways to support worthy local organizations: hospitals, orphanages, educational programs—dozens every year. For example, Christmas in Mexico is a time of great anticipation and excitement, and the children at this Tecate orphanage are never disappointed. The Ranch's toy drives make their dreams come true!
For a report on Rancho La Puerta’s many eco-activities and community programs, please scan down the topics below, or across the navigation bar at the top of this page. Click on any of the green links to take you direct to a topic that interests you.
The following information is organized into two categories:
Our non-profit foundation, Fundacion La Puerta, spearheads our activities in the community and the Baja California – U.S. region at large.
Our on-property eco-activities and daily practices are also highlighted, from the first gray-water “biological marsh” in Baja California to our massive composting operation.
We welcome your questions and suggestions—our guests and their creative input have shaped the Ranch in countless ways.
Our non-profit community-action Foundation was created in 1977 by the Szekely family and former General Manager, José Manuel Jasso, in partnership with Rancho La Puerta. Since its inception, Fundación La Puerta has actively supported environmental, social and educational projects in the Tecate and border area, including the preservation of endangered native plant and wildlife habitat within this region. The President of Fundacion La Puerta is Sarah Livia Szekely Brightwood. The Executive Director is Laurie Silvan.
Our programs fall into three categories (note: the links below in green, are also reached via the Fundacion home page):
- Urban Planning and Conservation programs, including the Mt. Kuchumaa Easement, a bi-national partnership with the U.S. that protects much of the mountain’s wildlands, and the Tecate River Park Project, part of major effort to not only restore the river’s riparian habitats and water quality and create a park for the people of Tecate.
- Environmental Education programs anchored by the amazing, boulder-like learning center buildings known as Las Piedras, home base for classes here as well as community-wide activities including Workshops for Children; Teacher Training Programs; Interpretive Trails; Summer Camps, Volunteer Training Programs; and Tecate River Clean Up work days.
- Cultural and Recreational programs including Parque del Profesor (a huge city park built by the Szekely family and named in honor of Professor Edmond Szekely), Dia de Muertos (the community’s annual “Day of the Dead” celebration), River Through My Eyes, World Environment Day, and support of Native American Culture.
Day-to-day eco-friendly operations at Rancho La Puerta include a wide range of sustainability practices aimed at protecting the earth as well as the health of our guests and employees. As with any practice, there is always room for change and improvement. One thing that will not change, however, is our commitment to environmental protection and care for the natural world.
Water management has been a central issue at the Ranch since its founding and the digging of our first well. We are located in a broad and fertile valley at the base of a granitic mountain and foothills in a land of little rain (about 9 inches annually in recent years). Visit this section to learn more about our gray water systems, biological marsh, low-flow fixtures, drip irrigation, and much more. Click here to learn more.
Efficient energy use at the Ranch has been a common practice since our founding in 1940, when there literally was no energy to use other than kerosene for lanterns and stoves. Click here to learn more.
Recycling programs extend to the usual paper, glass, metal programs (although we generate very little waste to begin with because of our almost exclusive use of fresh foods), as well as batteries, equipment, building materials whenever possible, and garden and food waste. Click here to learn more.
Building construction and maintenance incorporates active and passive energy design and efficiency principles, innovative materials such as straw bale walls, locally-sourced materials (especially brick and tile), and the reuse of demolished materials and structures. Click here to learn more.
Landscaping and grounds management aims to respect our primarily natural setting (over 3,000 privately held acres) while providing a beautiful horticultural experience for guests as they walk about the roughly 40 acres that comprise our main resort campus. Click here to learn more.
Organic farming and foods play a vital role in our gourmet spa cuisine, both in the resort's kitchen and in its cooking school, La Cocina Que Canta ("The Kitchen That Sings"). Our farm Tres Estrellas ("Three Stars") provides most of this bounty, along with locally sourced foods whenever possible..Click here to learn more.