Biodynamic Workshop at Swallowtail Waldorf School & Farm

We had the privilege of visiting Swallowtail Waldorf School & Farm today for an introduction to biodynamics, hosted by the Oregon Biodynamic Group. Tony and I had a basic understanding of biodynamics but had been interested in learning more and today offered us the perfect opportunity to dive into the basics. I had been a little leery of biodynamics after an experience I had on a biodynamic farm in New Zealand 7 years ago… It was a small homestead specializing in blueberries. I helped with normal tasks like weeding, hauling things, digging, etc. One day while I was there, I happened upon the owner of the farm who looked startled when I found her in a dark corner kneeling before a few piles of cow poop, with several lit candles surrounding her and the poop. At the time, I thought she was worshipping the cow manure. I was a little shocked, and ran out of the room. She never mentioned it to me and I was left wondering. A few years later I heard a description of biodynamics and made the connection between the revered cow poop and biodynamic preparations. I began to understand that the preparations, although seemingly strange (like smashing cow manure in a cow horn and burying it), has quite a bit of science and practicality to it. I will share a little bit about what we learned today, and some photos of Swallowtail Farm.

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tire swing at Swallowtail Farm

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visiting the Salatins at Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia

the entrance to Polyface farm in Swoope, Virginia.

the entrance to Polyface farm in Swoope, Virginia.

I have applied to be a Polyface Summer Intern with Joel Salatin and his family for two years in a row. The first year I did not make it past the first round of questions, but the second year I did, and was invited as one of 45 “check outs” for a two day visit this last December. I want to share my experience with you, but will first explain the application and acceptance process. Continue reading

hugelkultur and strawbale kitchens

This last weekend was International Permaculture Day (May 5th) so Tony and I decided to celebrate by offering our hands at two events. It was inspiring and informative. Our first stop was Sky Mountain Institute, where we helped a new family in the neighborhood start a garden using permaculture practices. We built a hugelkultur bed and a eucaylptus trellis. Hugelkultur is a popular permaculture method of building a mound of logs, organic matter and soil to create a self-watering, self-reliant garden bed that decomposes to slowly release nutrients and hold water like a sponge to support your plants. It is easy to build and very low maintenance. Check out Paul Wheaton’s article on hugelkultur here, and his short video here for some fabulous information.

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Strawbale Building Work Party

Shaping bales with an electric chainsaw

Shaping bales with an electric chainsaw

Hello, Tony here! This past weekend Emily and I had the pleasure of attending a work party at a developing site. We heard about the event through a fellow named Erik, whom we met at the San Diego Permaculture convergence. He was filming the whole shebang, and hopefully that footage will be available in time. This guy is a big personality, and seems to have some big dreams for Permaculture and changing his corner of the world in southern California. It is exciting when talking with him, because change just seems so DO-able. He is one who has the energy, the ideas, and perhaps most importantly, a huge web of personal and professional friends. More and more often I am seeing that it takes people working together to get great things done. Eric was able to wrangle Emily and I, and about 35 other folks into attending this Strawbale party over the course of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Continue reading