About the Farm
Twin Palms Ranch is a small-scale community-supported farm run by one farmer and his sidekick. Although not certified organic they practice natural and sustainable growing methods, without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified plants. They dry-farm whenever possible, integrate crop rotations and grow cover crops to ensure soil strength and fertility.
About the Farmers
In 2006, Louis McKenzie underwent an enormous life change when he was diagnosed with liver failure at UCSF after undergoing extensive testing at a variety of medical facilities. A characteristically active man and a contractor by profession, it was a shock and a challenge to find that his body, once so strong and capable, was seriously debilitated. The illness was not only devastating but also baffling, because the cause of his liver failure was never discovered, and remains a mystery. However, despite the pain and physical deterioration, Louis maintained as much physical activity as possible, and only three days after receiving a transplant, he was walking the hospital halls. His recovery was astounding.
Louis took this opportunity to take his life in a new direction. He returned to school, briefly considering returning to the world of construction through the medium of architecture, but found that his love for the outdoors wouldn’t allow him to commit to a job behind a desk. He began studying sustainable agriculture at the SRJC, and a passion for cultivating healthy food began to blossom.
After experiencing such a strange and largely inexplicable illness, understanding what was put into his body had a tangible importance. In 2002, Louis and his wife, Karen, had purchased a 5-acre plot of land. The property was empty, except for the remains of a house that had burned to the ground many years before, and two inaccessible wells. The couple began slowly, by planting a few trees, and dividing up the land with fences. Only five months after his transplant, Louis introduced two llamas to the property, and the farm began to take shape. The opportunity to bring together the ingredients that make our bodies healthier and offer it to the community is something Louis is very grateful for.
Karen McKenzie, a multi-media artist, was working at a doctors’ office during Louis’ illness, but as the farm developed found herself spending more time starting seeds, maintaining the garden, taking care of set up, and developing a system for the farm. Eventually, she left her job at the office to spend more time to the quickly growing farm, which was now producing enough to sell CSA baskets and appear at local farmers markets.
Twin Palms Ranch opened its own weekly farm stand, and Karen’s creative influences became the farm’s signature. Her creativity brought a sense of artistry to the farm; flowers began to appear amongst the rows of vegetables, and as the farm began to produce more fruits and vegetables, Louis added new structures to the lot to facilitate the production of food. The transformation of the desolate, barren lot that the couple bought in 2002 is remarkable. Twin Palms Ranch now includes a greenhouse, a dry shed, a cooler shed, harvesting shed, pump house, shade houses, chicken trailer and duck areas, 1 piggy, a shy llama, over 100 fruit trees of various varieties, extensive cut flowers and many thriving, organic gardens.