Kayla Keesee (known to many by her given last name, Garcia) was just 34 when she left behind her legacy of creativity and innovation earlier this year. We took some time to talk to her husband and partner in business, Kellin Keesee, about these cherished gifts. The couple was married not long before Kayla’s stage four cancer diagnosis. But they’d found each other years before and worked side-by-side since 2017 to build a Cannabis brand at their Beavercreek, Oregon property.
Kayla was ambitious, with a passion for the plant that pushed her into a small group of pioneering women in Oregon’s legal scene. Kellin tells us that she was proud to bring this, along with the Mexican side of her heritage, into a Cannabis space that lacked opportunities for women like her. Set on blazing a path, she moved from Wenatchee, Washington down to Oregon to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Management, and Entrepreneurship at Oregon State University. While pursuing her degree, she already had plans to return to Washington’s Cannabis market and even attended one of OSU’s first hemp classes.
Upon graduation in 2016, she found herself amid Oregon’s recreational legalization and convinced Kellin to stay in the state and venture into what would become Viridia Farms. Her classmates and colleagues say that Kayla was a tenacious individual, who never backed down from a challenge. “She always told me that she was living her dream. Even through the hard stuff. She loved it and took everything as a challenge,” shares Kellin.
In the garden, Kellin tells us that Kayla captained every process from seed to sale. Her focus on sustainability led towards a living soil ecosystem in a raised-bed, automated greenhouse setting – a setup that the couple built largely with their own hands. She worked meticulously to build a solid recipe free of synthetics that would allow her plants to naturally express the genetic variations that she diligently sought after.
Her education in entrepreneurship and natural creative drive inspired her to work well beyond the endless hours in the garden. As Kellin tells us, she was often up long into the night pursuing her passions in any way possible. Kayla spent over nine months painstakingly developing a plastic-free joint box design (an item she’d go on to have patented), helped engineer an innovative bud-sorting device called the VibraSort by VF Industries (an ode to their Viridia Farms brand), and trademarked the Viridia Farms’ logo.
From these innovations to the very microbiome of the soil her hands tended, Kayla made a mark on the community she cared for. It’s a mark that will be tangible for years to come, as Kellin shares his (the family’s) plans to continue Viridia Farms in her honor.