As I informed you last month, I volunteered to work at KK’s The Farm on the North Fork of Long Island. The more I learned about their method, the more it captivated me. By the time I finished my commitment on June 27, I had a firm determination to sponsor a community garden, which will employ the method of Biodynamic farming.
I am sure the current pandemic has greatly affected my thinking. You see, I do not wish to switch careers and become a full-time farmer. What I want is to produce enough crops for my small family and friends. It will be an additional delight if I can grow flowers to use in my Ikebana lessons.
So, my quest to buy a small parcel of land near my home and learn more about sustainable farming continues. At the beginning of this month, I set out on a three-day trip to the New York Tri-state area to see how my supplier cultivates flowers and to visit other Biodynamic farms. You might think I am traveling too much during the pandemic, but I assure you that I am adhering to all the safety protocols.
My choice of lodging for this trip was The White Hart. A charming inn in Salisbury, CT, with impeccable taste. The village was about one hour away from my destinations, but looking at their website, I fell in love with the inn and just had to stay there. The decision was a good one because I had an opportunity to explore an area that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. The village of Salisbury felt like the English countryside that I had visited in past travels. The inn strictly followed the COVID-19 protocols yet satisfied my needs with impeccable hospitality. I highly recommend this inn.
My first destination was Hawthorn Valley Farm in Ghent, NY, a well-established Biodynamic farm community with a large farm store. The store stocks produce and brand products that are certified Biodynamic, organic, locally, and regionally produced, plus their brand of products. The farm was unfortunately closed for touring (both guided and self-guided) due to COVID-19. But I got to visit the store and walk around the property. I will return another time!
My second destination was Cedar Farm Wholesale, also in Ghent. There, I met up with my friend, Fernando of FDK Floral, and Lisa, a Japanese photographer. Both Fernando and I buy flowers from the farm, but this is the first time that I visited and toured the facility. Cedar Farm is owned by the sisters, Marilyn Cederoth and Kate Swift, for over 20 years. Marilyn acted as our guide.
Their growing method is not strictly Biodynamic, but they run the farm sustainably using a minimum of chemicals and utilizing Integrated Pest Management.
On their website, they state, “We try to work with Mother Nature in all aspects. Whether its deer pressure, fertility, weather, or bugs, we find a natural, non-invasive solution.” Sounds good to me!
The sisters strive to grow new and uncommon varieties of flowers. It was a delight to tour their farm. Flowers currently available are garden roses, dahlia, feverfew, clematis, cosmos, blue cloud larkspur, and Chantilly snapdragon. On their website, you can see selections of flowers available each month. To my delight, they also had gorgeous foliage, which shows their keen understanding of flower design. Some of what I selected were heavenly bamboo, blue wild indigo, smoke bush, and ninebark.
On the way back from Upstate New York, I drove South on the West side of Hudson River, scouting a perfect location for a small lot for a community garden. I have been spreading the word, and already a few people would like to join me in my effort. I am very excited! But finding a perfect little piece of land is a challenge. I want the garden to be within a half-an-hour drive from my home in Cliffside Park so that I can tend to it daily.
My last stop was The Pfeiffer Center, the leading educational foundation for Biodynamic farming, where I will be taking classes in September. They, too, were closed due to COVID 19. Luckily, I met Rich, a caretaker of one of the farms at the center. He showed me how he grows his vegetables using natural insecticide, a mixture of rainwater and mint. Whoa!
In the meantime, I have more students signed up for my Ikebana classes starting on September 11. I need to keep each session small, so if you are interested, please register early. You can register on this page, or send me an email at email@example.com.