In October 2009, Judith McKenna and Richard Baker bought 12 Palms Farm in Cocoa, Florida, 45 miles from Orlando on the East coast of the state. Their property, which had been a horse farm, required months of work clearing pastures and fixing fences before Judith and Richard began the slow business of starting a farm. First, they added a small flock of chickens with the intention of collecting eggs for their own consumption. After some research, they decided that goats would be a great addition to their farm and they added Nubian and Nigerian dairy goats to their 3.5 acre property. In addition to their Certified AWA laying hens and dairy goats, Judith and Richard also raise Certified AWA laying ducks.
Judith and Richard enjoyed raising animals from the beginning. As animal lovers, they always strive to understand the nutritional and cultural needs of 12 Palms’ animals and their health, happiness and productivity is their top priority. Animal Welfare Approved certification is one way that Judith and Richard communicate to their customers that they are raising their goats, laying hens, and ducks the right way. This method takes a lot of time and complete dedication, but Judith says that it’s not really a challenge—it just requires that you’re “in it heart and soul.”
12 Palms customers can witness the farm’s dedication to high welfare and sustainability when they visit The Green Marketplace, their on-farm store, open three days a week. The store is run cooperatively with two other local farms and features, alongside 12 Palms’ eggs and goat milk, cheese and yogurt, native plants, seasonal produce, and value added farm products. Judith and Richard take the opportunity to educate visitors about farming by letting them witness daily milking and allowing children to harvest eggs, as well as hosting workshops on a variety of topics. Much to Judith’s surprise, their community has quickly accepted their small farm business and they look forward to continued growth.