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Arugula's Star Farm Writing & Photos...Week 6

Posted 2/13/2018 1:35am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.

Point of Wet Weather Saturation for Week 6 here on the Farm

February is fairing quite soggy thus far and the rains do not seem to be letting up.  Out here we had a total of 4.5 inches in the 6th week. There was already a fair amount of ground water accumulation from the rains prior, but the rain filled week really pushed the grounds well over maximum point of saturation. Our lower fields have lots of wet weather seeping spring accumulation from the higher slopes and rising ground water seeps from the lowest sea level point soil association of the Bodine, thus turning our sogs into full blown bogs.  

I think we had two sunny days in week 6 and we tried to be out and about a doing as much as possible on those days.  Eastenn Dutch and I checked on and dug up some of the Biodynamic Barrel Compost that we made here in the Fall of 2016.  The reason for this was because I had the opportunity to attend the Fellowship of Biodynamic Prepmakers Conference over the weekend at Jeff Poppen's Long Hungry Creek Farm in Red Boiling Springs, TN and we were to take along any biodynamic preps that we had made on the farm for some good analyzation.  I rode with my good friend Hilary, from our local Demeter biodynamic group, and we had a grand ole time with lots of hands on learning and lecture listening and group discussions. The Fellowship of Biodynamic Prepmakers are the biodynamic Prepmaking leaders in this country really and they all were there...Hugh Courtney from Virginia, Mr. Frey from Frey Vineyards in California, Marjory(Pearl)from Oregon, Dwayne from Minnesota, Lloyde from Colorado, and Brian from Wisconsin, just to name a few.  They meet up and host a conference once a year every year in a different part of the country to help farmers learn more about Biodynamic Farming and we were just lucky that they finally decided to make it to the South!  

I car camped in the back hatch of my wagon car on Friday night, and even though I have car camped a many of times I had yet to car camp when there was a pouring rain storm through the night.  This lended itself to the extra neat experience, which gave the sense of sleeping in the rain without getting wet. 

As I was looking into Frey Vineyards I came across this blog clip on their site that gave a good explanation of Biodynamic Agriculture in which I am going to paste right here below if you are inclined to read... 

Biodynamic® is defined by the Demeter Farm and Processing Standards and is protected via a certification mark, which is an inclusive type of trademark. Demeter International is the first, and remains, the only ecological association consisting of a network of individual certification organizations in 45 countries around the world. Demeter US has 163 members and reaches over 10,000 certified acres.

I’d like to point out that Demeter US was formed seventeen years before the USDA National Organic Program (NOP); following the evolution of farming practices in the last century, one could suggest that Biodynamic agriculture is the parent of organic. At Frey Vineyards we adhere to the Demeter Farm Standard, which incorporates NOP practices, but goes a step further because it retains the view of the farm as an integrated whole.

The Demeter standard requires whole farm certification. 10% of total acreage must be set-aside as wild area to promote biodiversity. Because the farm is managed as a self-contained system, fertility is generated via the integration of livestock, compost, green manure, and careful crop rotation. Disease and insect control are addressed through botanical species diversity, predator habitat, and attention to light penetration and air flow. The use of the preparations is required. There are eight preparations in all, made from herbs, mineral substances and animal manures, that are utilized in field sprays and compost inoculants applied in minute doses, much like homeopathic remedies are for humans.

The Farm Standard is historically significant because it dates back to the beginning of the modern sustainable agriculture movement and captures key agronomic principles not comprehensively addressed within any other agriculture certification system. As such, Biodynamic agriculture represents one of the highest paradigms of sustainable farming, and offers one of the smallest carbon footprints of any agricultural method.

Standards are developed democratically, seeking input from farmers and processors and then vetted and voted upon annually by the international Demeter board. The standards are living and evolving and deserve respect from everyone who cares about Biodynamic agriculture and anthroposophy.

All of these wet times in winter on the farm can really sculpt and determine what can be done when and where.  For example, pea planting is going to be upon us soon and one cannot plant pea seeds when the ground is saturated to its max.  We can only hope and bide our time well in the meantime. On the other hand, an act that is not impaired by saturated soils is the starting of seed onions in wooden trays in our own farm made planting soil, which never gets to soggy! The 13th will be the day, as we will find ourselves in the favorable root starting sign of Capricorn.   

Onion varieties on the docket for 2018:

  • Heirloom Rossa di Milano Red Storage (certified organic seed from HMS)
  • Heirloom Walla Walla Sweet Onion (certified organic seed from HMS)
  • Open Pollinated Gladstone Sweet White Storage (certified organic seed from HMS)
  • Open Pollinated Valencia Sweet Spanish Storage (certified organic seed from HMS)

Until next time keep your head rooted into the ground...yes indeed our head is our roots!

Important announcement:  Please remember that the second Ecosystem Exploration Family Farm Day is coming up on Sunday February the 18th from 1:30-4:30.  We would love to have you!  I will post one more reminder towards the end of the week. For more info click here...EEFFD

Allison Mills Neal 

6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401


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