I recently visited Seven Seeds Organic Farm in Souther Oregon ?to pick up seeds for the agriculture projects i’m working on at Sacred Acres and to meet the founder, Don Tipping. I wanted to find out more about bio-dynamic farming farming and seed-banking techniques hat I heard of but never seen in action.
Seven Seeds Farm has been growing certified organic seeds for many national scale mail order seed companies for the past 17 years. They are fairly unique within the world of seed companies because they actually produce much of the seed themselves, as opposed to most companies that buy most (or all) of their seed from multinational corporate seed houses, many who also produce genetically engineered vegetable seeds.
In addition to commercial seed production, Seven Seeds Farm produces biodynamic fruits and vegetables that they distribute through a cooperative Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program called the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative (www.siskiyoucoop.com) in the Rogue Valley. They also raise ducks, chickens, turkeys, and sheep. Seven Seeds hosts numerous on-farm classes and workshops in a variety of sustainable agriculture related topics.
Biodynamic farming is not something you hear talked about a lot among permaculturalists. Some of you may not even know what it is. But if you’re interested in the origins of organic farming, this is the historical starting point. Developed in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner (the creator of the Waldorf education system among many other things), bio-dynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that employs what proponents describe as “a holistic understanding of agricultural processes”. The biodynamic certification Demeter, created in 1924, was the first certification and labeling system for organic production. One of the first sustainable agriculture movements, it treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.
Biodynamic farming includes following planting, tending, and harvesting schedules that rely on moon phases, astrological events, and other natural rhythms. It involves the use of specially prepared natural composts and plant sprays to improve crop and soil health. Many experimental farms have been set up, and recently many vineyards have started employing these techniques. To fully understand the intricate connections of the physical and non-physical components of this practice takes years, but can offer many benefits for the permaculturalist and organic farming community.
Overall the farm is well run and looks like most permaculture farms you might see. There are well placed buildings, gardens, water systems, and animal areas dot the landscape. They even has a treehouse! Their seed-bank is one of the best in the country and they are serving a vital purpose in the future of producing and conserving pure, non-gmo seeds. Read more about some of the issues with seed companies.
To see a current listing of workshops at Seven Seeds and classes that Don Tipping will be teaching in southern Oregon please see visit their website!