What is Biodynamics?
Biodynamics can be called “organic plus.” Biodynamics views the farm as a whole, interconnected organism, and tries to take as little input from outside the farm as possible. The animal and vegetable components of the farm complement each other, with the (composted) manure from the animals providing the fertility for the vegetables. We also apply homeopathic remedies (called “preparations”) to the fields and compost to improve the vitality of the soil, and try to take into account astronomical influences, such as moon cycles, on the growth of plants.
Biodynamics was created in the early 20th century before chemical use had become common in agriculture. It is based on a series of lectures given by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, whose work also led to Waldorf education, and to Anthroposophy, a “spiritual science.” In a series of lectures in 1924, Steiner outlined his ideas on how to actively work with the life-giving forces of nature to help renew the vitality and fertility of farms.
Are you certified organic?
Yes. Our farm is certified organic according to the federal government’s USDA organic standards.
What is Demeter?
Demeter is the certifying agency for Biodynamic farms. It is an international organization with affiliates in many other countries.
Where is your farm? Can I visit?
Our farm is in Columbia County New York, near the town of Hudson, about 2 1/2 hours’ drive north of New York City. Visitors are welcome. Guided tours are available if planned in advance by either calling our Marketing Director (518-672-4465 x 222), or sending an email with your request; and visitors are welcome to take self-guided tours using the maps available in our Farm Store.
Are you connected to a school?
Our farm is part of the same non-profit association as the Hawthorne Valley School, an early childhood through grade 12 Waldorf school that is nestled within our campus, across the street from our farm store and milking barn. Students from the school visit and work on the farm as part of their curriculum.
Are your cows free range/pastured?
Yes. They are only in the barn when necessary — during our once-a-day milking sessions and overnight in winter or other times when the weather is too extreme for them to be out.
What do you feed your cows?
Our cows are grass fed – they are rotationally grazed on pasture. When fresh pasture is not available, they eat dried hay and fermented hay that we prepare during the summer and store away for the winter months.
How many cows do you have?
Our herd size fluctuates but, generally, we have about 65 dairy cows.
Do you use any antibiotics or hormones?
Is your milk A2?
No. In order for milk to be considered A2, each cow in the herd must be tested for this genetic marker. While the Brown Swiss breed has a higher rate of this gene, and this breed is dominant among our herd, there are many other breeds mixed in.
What do your pigs eat?
A variety of different organic foods including the whey that is produced when we make our cheeses, unclaimed leftover bakery products, organic produce and other leftovers from our store’s deli, stems and seconds from the vegetable fields, and plants and insects that they scavenge for themselves while rooting around in their pastures. If these sources run short, we supplement with organic grain.