Celebrating 19 years
In August 2018, Donald and I celebrated 19 years of growing Biodynamic organic lavender. We began when our viticulturist suggested we try another crop on some of our vineyard land where the vines weren’t thriving. Lavender uses less water, and our land does not have much. Besides, he claimed after having taken a lavender growing workshop, we could make 3-4 cents a stem (dream on!) About the same time, we had another grape crop on Mt. Veeder that wasn’t ripening. A friend referred us to a biodynamic consultant who he claimed could help. It was a leap of faith, but we saved a grape crop and increased grape tonnage on our ranch where we live. I have recorded the story in Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation.
The lavender also thrived. We quickly learned we knew nothing about marketing and now we had an acre and a half of lavender to market! Again, some good fairies arrived in Lowell Downey, who early on referred the Napa Valley Register to do a story on organic farming, and Kathleen Parks-Perry, graphic designer, who designed our labels and helped with our website, created a marketing plan, and even helped “woman” a booth at several Mustard Festivals. She also designed a booth for an Austin TX All Things Organic trade show (2003) in which we got some big projects.
And then there were the bees—our big marketers! —who seduced the Napa Valley Register photographer into two Sunday two-page spreads. He arrived two mornings before dawn to catch that moment the sun hit the lavender where bumble bees slept all night. When the warmth hit the bees, each slowly removed its proboscis from the lavender and flew away, caught on film.
The biodynamic process has changed both Donald and me, weaving us into the land in a way that nothing else could have. Biodynamics is good farming, yes. You learn to watch the crops, to walk the land every day (“the best fertilizer is the farmer’s feet”). You pay attention and do all the things a good organic farmer does. But biodynamic farming goes the next step. It also deals with the energetics of life. Stirring preparations often takes an hour, and in that hour we meditate on the ranch and all who live here, picturing harmony and health for all, including you, our customers. We appreciate the discipline that biodynamic farming offers, a discipline we will continue.
Our attention now turns to the forest. Most of our ranch is forested, and after the fires of 2017 which got way too close, after we evacuated our goats and llama and ourselves in the early hours the night it all began, the eastern ridge glowing gold, the western sky, orange—we know it’s only a matter of time until we too are visited by Fire. But how do we maintain a forest in a healthy way? First Peoples knew, caring for the forest for centuries. That knowledge is still there, and we will turn to it as well as that of foresters, and yes, of biodynamic consultants.
We are in a fallow period, not unlike the crystallization time Rudolf Steiner describes (January 15-February 15) in which what is above ground is quiet but in which the earth is most receptive to the cosmos. We had to pull our grape vines this year and have decided the earth needs the rest. We are caring for our aromatics, waiting to see what impregnation of Spirit occurs and where we go from here. We are also getting older and preparing for that transition we all make. How does that fit into this? A fallow period in which we are open to the larger energies of Spirit will help us decide.
We appreciate all of you, our readers, customers, friends and family who have used our dried and distilled products over the years. May your 2019 and beyond be fulfilling and may you thrive.
Note: We will keep our e-mail list for notification of any future plans. Should you wish to contact us after December 31, 2018, use my e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.