The Biodynamic® farming method is a holistic system in which all the elements of the farm are important - air, water, soil, rocks, daytime, nighttime, animals. In essence, the growing of plants is a transfer of energy from those sources to a single point - the plant. When energy from those sources rearranges itself, a dry, hard, lifeless seed springs green. Biodynamic® farming uses methods to enhance the energetic plane in the farm, or in other words support the transfer of energy between forms. As these dynamic forces are strengthened, the dynamic and life-giving properties of the plant and earth are strengthened. So what does that mean about our farming techniques, or how do we do it? First, Cowhorn is a perennial polyculture, which means we grow and harvest more than a single crop and that those crops live more than one season. Biodynamic® farming rests on several key principles, one being that biodiversity is good for all creatures, great and small.
Another principle of Biodynamic® farming is that the intellect of humankind is to be used! We must be respectful and thoughtful of all the realms that exist in our lives and spaces. For us, we have put that principle into action by intending to blend technology and art in the best way that we can to support the energetic principles mentioned above. In the vineyard, our spacing and trellising system is based on a mathematical equation of plant heights and length, and a ratio of leaves to clusters. Our equipment is specialized for our spacing and soil characteristics, to mechanize weed control while at the same time optimizing oxygen and organic matter in the soil. The garden crops were planned and planted with the vineyard equipment in mind. The crops are all tended to with concern for floor and canopy management so that the growing environment for the plants is optimized. In a nutshell, if the soil and plant are healthy, the fruit will be too!
Now let’s talk about the art. In the spring, we begin managing the vineyard canopy. Each grape plant is tended by hand. We have rules for pruning to be sure, but each plant is looked at individually. Each is nurtured and shaped according to its own unique needs, whether it is extra water, compost or ties. Each plant is a picture to be created in its own right.
A third principle of Biodynamic® farming is the application of specialized preparations that act as “fertilizers.” Generally referred to as “preps,” we adhere to the standards developed by the Demeter Association and are experimenting with tailoring our application programs as we gain more knowledge about our farm. Through our practices of Biodynamic® farming, we believe that we enhance the vitality or the life force of this property and all the creatures on it. If you ask any one of our fabulous crew (and we have the best crew there is!) they will tell you that every day they see something unfolding, returning to health, or becoming more beautiful. That is why we practice Biodynamics.
Demeter® USA is the non-profit American chapter of Demeter International, the world’s only certifier of Biodynamic® farms and products. Biodynamic agriculture goes beyond organic, envisioning the farm as a self-contained and self-sustaining organism. In an effort to keep the farm, the farmer, the consumer, and the earth healthy, farmers avoid chemical pesticides and fertilizers, utilize compost and cover crops, and set aside a minimum of 10% of their total acreage for biodiversity. The entire farm, versus a particular crop, must be certified, and farms are inspected annually. In order for a product to bear the Demeter logo it must be made with certified Biodynamic® ingredients and meet strict processing standards to ensure the purest possible product.