Gables farm is part of Ruskin mill. And is a biodynamic farm. This means it is farmed using the principles outlined by Rudolf Seiner, who is also the founder philosopher of Waldorf schools. So what makes it biodynamic, other than the fact that the vegetables grown are extremely healthy and vital?
The Farm is treated as an organism as a whole, and so you need all the ingredients: the physical soils, the etheric: the plants, the astral, the animals, and the ego: the farmer. One of the great secrets is the preparation of the soil. In the winter, the plants and animals withdraw from the outside, but the earth becomes alive. At this time it is gathering forces for the spring, where it pours the energy back into the plants. So autumn is when certain herbs and substances are buried in the ground to make full use of these forces. So here some of the Biodynamic apprentices, tutors,farmers and us volunteers are making BD 500.
Here fresh manure of a lactating cow, note the beautiful green colour..essentially partially fermented grass from all over the farm, full of bacteria and other organisms is placed in cow horns that are then buried and concentrate the winter energies into the dung. In the spring, when forces rise again to the surface, the horns are dug up and used in homeopathic doses all over the farm. It enhances the etheric forces, and believe me, the etheric forces are incredibly strong here..sometimes a bit too strong, and we spend a lot of time cutting back.
The other biodynamic preparations are made from the flowers of herbs..also enhanced through burying them through the winter in various animal parts. These are used in the compost heaps that are the foundation of Biodynamic farming. Here, myself and Nils, an apprentice from Sweden are making chamomile prep by stuffing dried flowers into a natural sausage skin from a cow.
The pigs prepare the soil from grass.
The Heavy horses are fantastic for ploughing and farrowing, as they do not step on the plants that are there. Here they have rouched up the soil around these huge leeks without crushing one!
There is a tractor on the farm, but you rarely hear noisy equipment. I have learnt how to use a sickle and a scythe..they are both very effective instruments and go no slower than a weedeater. You never need to go to the gym, as you get good exercise here. The heavy horses also just munch slowly as they walk. It is just so peaceful. This is part of the therapy of the farm. Long walks through the peaceful forest to your class, or past the flowforms,,listening to water running.
The students learn how to use all the instruments including setting up the plough and they love harnessing the horses, but also drive the tractor. Tutors don’t discriminate, and girls work as hard as boys, but they never force them to work. They have to watch if they don’t work, and usually end up wanting to do things, because its boring watching. Ultimately they all work very hard.
Working mostly with grumpy teenagers and adults, it was wonderful to hear a whole lot of High pitched voices full of enthusiasm. This was a visit from class 3 of Wynstones school. Gaia and Kesh, you must have done this when you were there! They spend the day at gables farm. They loved it.