“Natural food means feeding in such a way that, as far as possible, man keeps his food in its original state. It is only in this condition that food is really natural, and it may be defined as any substance which, when introduced into the system, nourishes, stimulates and mineralizes, at the same time bringing with it that force, so real yet so imponderable, Life itself.”
–Edmond Szekely, “Cosmos, Man and Society,” 1936
The riches of the earth are celebrated at Rancho Tres Estrellas, the organic farm that serves the Rancho La Puerta kitchen and La Cocina Que Canta cooking school (located on the farm property). Tres Estrellas is a vibrant tapestry of orchards, intensively planted raised beds, and herbs. The guests at Rancho La Puerta enjoy the flavors of freshly picked fruits and vegetables year ’round, enhanced by the creative magic of masterful chefs in the gourmet kitchens. Sarah Livia Brightwood, daughter of Rancho La Puerta founders Edmond and Deborah Szekely is the proprietor and visionary for Rancho Tres Estrellas. The success of Tres Estrellas can be largely attributed to Ms. Brightwood's intimate understanding of the soil, climate, and history of the land.
Rancho Tres Estrellas Organic Garden
- 3.5 acres are actively cultivated to provide herbs, fruits and vegetables for Rancho La Puerta's dining hall.
- The garden produces over 250 different varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs.
- An impressive composting process produces seven tons of organic fertilizer per year. The rich compost consists of kitchen scraps, garden waste, and goat and chicken manure.
- Rancho Tres Estrellas receives only 9" of annual rainfall, so there is very limited production of water intensive crops like artichokes. Instead, most fruit and vegetable varieties are selected based on their ability to withstand dry conditions. Even the hardiest produce requires some water though, so the gardens are irrigated using pure clean water from the Mt. Kuchumaa aquifer.
- The gardens are mostly tended by hand with very little dependence on mechanical tools. One small tractor hauls compost and a small tiller is used to prepare the soil for planting.
- There are nine full time gardeners tending and harvesting at Tres Estrellas, including a Director of Operations and a Production Manager.
- The garden's rich diversity of crops, including heirloom varieties, helps to reduce outbreaks of pests that thrive in monoculture conditions.
- Flowering plants and fruit trees attract bats, birds and beneficial insects that provide natural pest management.
Rancho La Puerta Organic Kitchen
- The Rancho La Puerta Dining Hall serves approximately 164,250 meals a year (3 meals/day to 150 guests served 365 days of the year).
- Since most meals at Rancho La Puerta are vegetarian, 50-90 percent of recipe ingredients come from Tres Estrellas organic garden.
- Other organic ingredients used to prepare guest meals (dairy, condiments, spices, fruits & vegetables not found at Tres Estrellas) come from a U.S. distributor that carries organic products.
- All of our eggs come from Rancho La Puerta's organic farm at Tres Estrellas.
- Fresh seafood served at evening meals is purchased directly from the local fish market in Ensenada, Mexico.
- Rancho La Puerta's staff nutritionist, kitchen staff and garden staff work together to develop meal plans based around the produce grown at Tres Estrellas.
More Interesting Facts
- Tres Estrellas is developing an organic essential oil processing facility. Oils produced at the farm will be used for Rancho La Puerta's spa treatments.
- Tres Estrellas' gardens supply organic produce to several cancer clinics in the region. Organic groceries are very difficult to come by in Mexico, so Tres Estrellas has an important role as a reliable source of chemical-free fruits and vegetables.
- Rabbits are plentiful at Tres Estrellas, so some produce loss is tolerated. But when heavy rains tripled the population, "decoy" alfalfa was planted outside of the garden to lure rabbits to an area where natural predators (coyotes and bobcats) could help control their numbers.
- Rancho La Puerta's gyms and a running track surround vineyards that produce delicious organic grapes. The vineyards date back to the turn of the century and have been cultivated with care since the days when Rancho La Puerta founder Edmund Szekely taught guests about the restorative and healthful properties of grapes.
- Leftovers from the dining hall are donated to the local orphanage. Sisters from the charity pick up the food daily and bring it to those in need living in Tecate.