Thorne Family Farm: A Hidden Gem in Malibu


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Thorne Family Farm: A Hidden Gem in Malibu

July 3, 2024
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Thorne Family Farm: A Hidden Gem in Malibu

Thorne Family Farm: A Hidden Gem in Malibu

Hidden down a winding country road in the picturesque landscape of Malibu, Thorne Family Farm is a nod to the enduring spirit of local agriculture. Established over fifty years ago, this family-run farm has evolved from a small, passionate endeavor into a beloved community hub. It is a place where visitors can experience the fruits of hard work and dedication firsthand. Our recent visit to the farm and with Larry Thorne was about learning the story and history of Thorne Family Farm.

A Glimpse into the History of a Family Farm

Thorne Family Farm traces its roots back to a time when Malibu was more rural. Founded by Larry’s father in 1947, the Thorne Family Farm derives from a passion for farming and fresh produce. Its roots are in cultivating the land with a commitment to quality and community. Over the years, the farm has maintained its ethos of growing clean, local produce, free from the industrial trappings of modern agriculture.

Larry Thorne from Thorne Family Farm leaning against a table in his farmstand in malibu California

Though Larry describes himself as cantankerous (and we beg to differ), his passion for his work is clear. “I was born into it, and it’s in my blood. It’s the kind of thing you’re born with in some ways,” he remarks. And then he tells the ultimate dad-style farmer joke: “There’s an old joke about an old farmer who won the lottery in Tennessee, won 2 million and everybody ran out to his house and said, Joe, what are you going to do now that you won the lottery and 2 million? And he goes, I guess I’ll just keep farming until I run out of money.” 

A Malibu Mainstay

Today, Thorne Family Farm is not just a farm; it’s a community landmark. A charming farm stand overflowing with seasonal produce, all grown on-site, greets visitors with whatever is in season. Depending on when you visit, you might find sweet strawberries, vibrant heirloom tomatoes, or crisp greens. “I’m the only guy that I know that grows about $70,000 worth of vegetables on $80 million worth of real estate,” Larry quips. 

Larry farms his own property, along with nearby stretches of land belonging to his neighbors. “I’m just very thankful that we have neighbors who opened up their land to us [rent-free] and allowed us to farm stuff that my dad used to farm in the fifties. It used to be worth $400 an acre and now it’s worth $4 million an acre. But without their help we couldn’t do this,” explains Larry.

thankful sign above an orange and lemon tree at Thorne Family Farm in Malibu

The mild, Mediterranean climate in Malibu means the farm is growing and harvesting all year long. “We grow about four different types of oranges, lemons, avocados, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. We grow six kinds of lettuce, three or four different kinds of carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, melons – five different kinds of melons. Sweet corn, all kinds of squashes, zucchini squash, yellow crookneck squash,” says Larry.

What You’ll Find Today at Thorne Family Farm

They sell primarily at their on-site farm stand, but local chefs also feature fresh Thorne Family produce on their menus. “There are a couple of restaurants that support us — Malibu Farm Restaurant, and also The Farm Shop in Santa Monica,” he says.

In addition to fresh produce, the farm stand often offers baked goods and artisanal products made from the farm’s bounty such as jams, pickles, and honey. These items provide a nostalgic taste of Malibu’s agricultural heritage and make perfect gifts.

The farm itself is not a major tourist attraction. Most of the regulars are neighbors, but it warmly welcomes those who seek to support local agriculture. The emphasis here is on community and sustainability, a philosophy that resonates deeply with many who visit.

overhead drone shot of Thorne Family Farm in Malibu California

The Importance of Supporting Local Farmers

Visiting Thorne Family Farm is more than just a shopping trip; it’s an act of support for local agriculture. As Larry emphasizes, “It’s much better if you can get it directly from the farmer, because it’s going to help him survive.” This direct support helps ensure the survival of small, family farms.

“It does create community, like nothing,” says Larry. “I mean we have people who come here and sit down and stay for an hour, an hour and a half, they just want to just be here. They just want to talk to the farmer.” 

The Thorne family has always believed in the value of hard work and the importance of local food systems. As Larry poignantly remarks, “If the farmer is growing it, if he’s plowing the field, and if he’s planting it, and taking care of it, and he’s picking it, and then he’s bringing it into the farm stand. That’s a lot of work and a lot of effort. It should be supported. Not just for the sake of the farmer, but for the sake of getting something that’s fresh, clean, and local.”

For those living in or visiting Malibu, a trip to Thorne Family Farm offers a refreshing escape. It’s a place where you can meet the farmers who grow your food. You can also take home some of the freshest produce around. Whether you’re picking up ingredients for a home-cooked meal or simply enjoying the rustic charm of the farm stand, Thorne Family Farms provides a unique and enriching experience.

Learn more about the best farmstands in California >>

Sign in farmstand at Thorne Family farm in Southern California

Visit Thorne Family Farm

Farm Stand Open Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

6043 Bonsall Drive, Malibu CA


Article written by Alison Needham for California Grown. Images by James Collier.

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