Summer 2018 by Briggin Scharf, artist and former farm apprentice
This wall painting located next to our Creamery entrance, portrays the interconnected relationships amongst plants and animals, cosmic and earthly forces that define biodynamic agriculture. As in nature, the more biodiversity in a system, the stronger the whole. This mural shares the story of Hawthorne Valley Farm’s unique farm system.
According to Rudolf Steiner’s 1924 lecture series on “Agriculture”, the farm is healthiest when it can exist as a self-contained, single organism. This means that an ideal biodynamic farm grows commodities (like vegetables, fruit, dairy, meat, and honey), grows enough food for all of the animals, and produces vital fertility sources to support all of the demands of agricultural production. You can imagine this growing and recycling system like a constantly spinning swirl. Over time and generations, the single-farm organism becomes its own ecosystem of unique plants and animals, which co-evolve with the farm’s specific land and environment.
Hawthorne Valley Cows
Calypso and Puppy are two important members of the HVF herd, although they are not blood related. They both have distinct personalities and histories with this place. Find a farmer and/or VSP educator and ask them to share some of their favorite Calypso and Puppy legends with you – each version will be slightly different…
The Hawthorne Valley Farm herd is a quirky breed of predominantly Brown Swiss, with mixes of Holstein, Jersey, Devon, Guernsey, and Normandy. These solar-powered beings chomp fresh grass all summer and churn cured hay all winter, transforming plant matter into sweet, creamy milk (and nutrient-rich manure). All the raw milk produced on this farm gets processed in the creamery behind this painted wall (peak in through the window to the left of Calypso to catch a glimpse of the metal bulk tank where the fresh milk is stored and kept cool).
Cow manure – aka poop – is the foundation for the farm’s soil fertility. The cows poop all over – on the pastures, in the milking barn, while walking – watch your step! The manure is collected, mixed with hay, other organic matter, and prep plants (see more below), and left to decompose (with the help of millions of microorganisms and fungi). The final product is COMPOST (farmer’s gold): a powerful substance of vitamins and minerals that is spread across the vegetable fields and pastures to support healthy plant growth.
The Compost Prep Plants
The plants featured in this mural were highlighted by Steiner in the “Agriculture” lectures because of their relationships with natural elements (like Calcium, Nitrogen and Potassium), seasons, and the cosmic forces of planets. The medicinal power of each plant is harnessed through elaborate preparations, and added to the cow manure compost pile. The illustrated plants include: Dandelion, Stinging Nettle, Valerian, Chamomile,
Yarrow, and Oak Leaf.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into these preparations, visit The Biodynamic Association’s website at this link.