I live with my wife, Margo, and two kids just outside of Duluth, MN near Lake Superior (Zone 4a). We’ve been here since 2020 and have lived in Duluth for the last 6 years, before that we were in northern Arizona. Growing up my parents always had a summer garden and while in college (about 2007) I was inspired to start growing my own food (mostly in urban backyards). A couple years later we moved to Sedona, AZ where I began learning more about viticulture, permaculture and beekeeping and in 2012 learned about Biodynamics. I can’t remember exactly how I learned about BD but was attracted to the concepts and had a feeling that this was the way I was meant to garden going forward. Over the next few years, I helped establish a couple small vineyards and gardens, our daughter was born and then we moved to Minnesota. Our move to Duluth landed us on a small city lot and gardening took a back seat in our lives until we recently moved to our 5 acre property in July 2020. That summer, I began to explore the land and converted a large portion of our grassy yard into a future garden space (tilled and cover cropped that in August 2020). In 2021, we continued to cultivate our gardens and added a variety of perennial plants to the land (raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, and lots of herbs/native plants).
As mentioned above, I was initially exposed to Biodynamics in 2012 and we started to use JPI preps around that time and for the next handful of years that was about the extent of my BD knowledge. Around 2016 (or so) my brother attended the BD Conference in Santa Fe and the ideas of Biodynamics stayed in the back of my mind (even though we weren’t actively gardening at that point). Upon buying our current 5 acre property, I knew that I would incorporate BD principles into my work and before tilling and cover cropping in 2020 we applied BD Field Prep to set intentions for the following seasons. In 2021, I participated in Stewart Lundy’s Agriculture Course study group and continued to explore BD Preps and Principles. Overall, I enjoy Biodynamics for the natural rhythm and structure that it provides throughout the season and I utilize Maria Thun’s Planting Calendar to influence most of my daily work. In 2021, we also began making some of our own Preps which helped me connect deeper with the land we live on and taking part in the Synchronized Sprays (started by Hugh Courtney and now organized by Troy Teets/Merry Prepstirs) helped me connect ceremonially with other BD farmers world wide which was really beneficial to me and the garden last year.
The biggest difference Biodynamics has made in my life is a deeper connection to the natural world we live in, reaching from the edge of the cosmos to deep beneath the soil we stand on. Biodynamics has changed my perspective about gardening/farming and has helped me interact with the soil, plants and other creatures around our farm. BD also gives me structure and direction, helping to influence most of our planning and daily tasks in the garden.
A lot of time I find that people are overwhelmed and confused by the planting calendars, preps and associated BD information (especially as you dive deeper in the Steiner lectures). I know I felt this way for a long time and only until more recently have gained clarity on how all can fit together. Because of this, I think the most important things to do is to just start observing the land you’re on, start to stir and spray BD 500 and 501 (or something similar like Barrel Compost, Buffalo Soil Activator or a Field Prep) and use a planting calendar to build rhythm into your routine. Observation and building a relationship with your land/farm is foundational and starting to get into a simple rhythm of stirring/spraying preps (with the intention of enlivening the land) is one major step to help improve soil activity and garden health. For starters, stirring and spraying Barrel Compost or a Field Activator in the Spring, Summer and Fall might be a great place to start. Similarly, using a planting calendar can be a starting point to help you connect with the greater cosmos giving you some direction on what tasks to focus on on any given day (for example if it’s a root day, plant carrots or tend to your potatoes).
Last Winter (2021) I decided to try to start and plant out more seeds than I had even done before and needed a way to better organize my plans to keep me on track. I knew I wanted to follow Maria Thun’s planting calendar so I began to dissect the information so I could easily have it in a spreadsheet that would serve as my planting roadmap. From this work, I created the BD Planting Guide and decided to share it so that others may find it helpful in their own endeavors to plant out a garden. The sheet is set for Zone 4 but using the Thun Calendar the dates/times for specific types of crops should be easy enough to edit (and then in 2023 the sheet can be edited again). Beyond taking some of the guesswork out of seed starting, my goal for the Guide is for it to help create a rhythm early on in the growing season that then can be carried outside into the field (for instance, planting Yarrow seeds inside on a Flower Day sets your intentions for these plants and later on in the summer you can harvest the flowers also on a Flower Day strengthening both your connection to the plant and the plants’ connection to the stars above).