FYI, if you’d like to get your hand dirty and learn more in-depth about Biodynamic farming and gardening, check out the Biodynamic Education series at Rudolf Steiner College. This fine institution with great staff and gardens is located in Fair Oaks, CA. Their 2009-2010 workshops include everything from compost and seed saving to bee keeping and the cosmic nature of water. Check it out!
Posts Tagged ‘Biodynamics’
If you haven’t checked out our Events page yet, please note – we’re hosting the Summer 2009 Biodynamic Association of Northern California (BDANC) Meeting.
We are especially excited that Robert Karp, the new Executive Director of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association (BDA) is the keynote speaker. Check out his recent interview here on visioning the biodynamic movement’s future. So exciting…
So, here’s a chance to visit the farm in summer mode (800 tomato plants, various eggplant and peppers, cover cropping in preparation for winter plants, pastured poultry, sheep in the rangeland…) AND learn about biodynamic farming and hang out with other foodies, farmers, and gardeners.
Our last CSA sort of the season. Thank you, farm members, for joining us our first winter CSA season!
This past Saturday, after a fun end-of-season CSA potluck with members and friends, we dug up the biodynamic preparations we buried last fall. Laura, a Willits member and active participant in the Biodyanmic Association of Northern California (BDANC), helped explain the preparations and what we were looking for in determining if the preps were ready or not.
Acres U.S.A. is the only national magazine that offers a comprehensive guide to sustainable agriculture. Charles Walters, the founder and executive director, recently passed away, leaving behind a huge legacy. His advocacy for eco-agriculture and independent farmers has been significant.
The most recent Acres U.S.A. republished a 1995 interview with Walters where he gives a good word on Biodynamics. From the interview:
Acres U.S.A. Can compost restore the millions of acres that rainforest destruction and industrial food farming have accounted for?
Walters Probably not – but biodynamics can. It is probably the most neglected form of bio-correct farming in the United States. Alex Podolinsky, in Australia, has about 1.5 million acres under his tutelage. I’ve seen stuff as hard as adobe brick turned to mellow loam using biodynamic preparation 500. Hugh Lovel’s ‘A Biodynamic Farm’ covers the various preparations. I think the ruined acres of the world need to turn to Podolinsky’s experience and to biodynamics. – his ‘Biodynamic Agriculture, Introductory Lectures,’ volumes 1 and 2, ought to be weighed out on jewelers’ scales, they are that precious.
From the March 2009 Acres U.S.A., Vol. 39, #3.
Since it has not been rainy, Adam and I have been out in the field as much as possible, weeding, shaping new beds, planting more veg, and chasing away pests. Hence, we haven’t had many posts lately. We’ve planted a lot more lettuce, which we have to cover with remay right after transplanting because the birds love to feast on their tasty leaves. The second planting of broccoli is doing really well (as are the weeds around them), especially because they are planted toward the bottom of the hill, where the soil is best – dark, fluffy, and rich. We have noticed a couple gopher holes and have set traps, but I think the dogs are doing a fairly good job of keeping their population from rising right now.
Soon, we will be thinning the beets we direct sowed, transplant more lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and Asian greens, and sow chard, beans, peas, salad mix, and more. Hopefully soon we will be putting up the hoop house, but there are a few materials for that that we still need to purchase.
Below, here are some great photos of Cody’s (one of our Ukiah members) from earlier this month. After Adam, Jerry, Jorge, and I made and buried Biodynamic preparations, Adam and I applied the preps (most of them purchased from the Josephine Porter Institute of Applied Biodynamics). In the future, we will not have to buy them, because we will have the preps we started making this year!
The day started off relatively dry as Adam and I drove over to Mac Magruder’s ranch in Potter Valley. Today, a cow was going down, along with three sheep and two pigs. A while back, we knew this was going to happen, so we decided it would be a good day to make some Biodynamic preparations; what we wanted were the head and guts of the cow going down.
For folks unfamiliar with Biodynamics (BD), in short, it involves making soil and compost preparations to enliven the soil which feeds the crops and animals we grow for food. We farm organically, but we also try to heal the Earth with these practices. When Mendocino Organics decided to farm at Heart Arrow Ranch, it has also been our aim to help develop the Goldens’ BD program, primarily by helping them make preparations on-farm. At this time of year, this entails making some of the preparations we made today:
Preparation 500 – Cowhorn dung – Promotes root activity and germination of seeds. Stimulates microscopic life in the soil and increases growth of beneficial bacteria. Regulates lime and nitrogen content and aids in the release of trace elements.
Jerry collected manure from Adam’s Dexter cows and packed it into about 50 cowhorns. Tomorrow, we will bury the cowhorns.
Preparation 503 – Chamomile – Stabilizes nitrogen in the compost and promotes soil life, stimulating plant growth.
It was like making sausages! We took the cow’s small intestines, removed the excess fat around it, cut them into foot-long segments, and flushed them with a water hose. Then we tied one end of each segment, stuffed them full with moist chamomile flowers, and tied the other end. We made about 10 or so “sausages.”
Preparation 505 – Oak bark – Provides healing qualities to combat harmful plant diseases.
Adam took the cow’s head, (cut the tongue out and gave it to Jorge who will make a yummy dinner with it tonight), cut the excess meat off, and flushed out the brains. With oak bark from the tree in the middle of our garden, Jerry and Jorge helped grind the bark into a powder which was then stuffed into the cow’s skull and plugged shut.
Preparation 506 – Dandelion – Stimulates the relationship between silica and potassium, helping silica attract ethereal qualities to the plants.
Adam collected dandelion heads this past spring. We tie little bundles of the dried flower heads in the cow’s mesentery (it holds our guts in). The cow we had was pretty fatty (over 1,200 lb), which made extracting and cleaning the mesentery a challenge.