The Pfeiffer Center’s gardens and fields are our classrooms and our laboratories. Located at the site of the first biodynamic farm in North America, the Pfeiffer Center encompasses a variety of spaces that support our teaching and research in biodynamic food production, adult education, children’s programs, and draft horse work.
In 1926, on the site of the present-day Pfeiffer Center garden, the founders of Threefold Farm began growing biodynamic produce for Manhattan's Threefold Vegetarian Restaurant. For decades thereafter, the garden's produce fed attendees of Threefold's popular Summer Conferences, and Ehrenfried Pfeiffer conducted his research here from the 1940s until his death in 1961. Today, the Pfeiffer Center garden comprises 70 beds where we raise vegetables, herbs and flowers; also on the property are a small orchard (apples, pears, peaches and quince), berry bushes, a greenhouse, a wood-fired bread oven, the dye garden of the Fiber Craft Studio, compost piles, a self-serve seasonal farm stand, and our apiary.
Just up the hill, across from Green Meadow Waldorf School, is the Children’s Garden, where we raise vegetables and conduct many of our programs with children. As in the Pfeiffer Center garden, work in the Children’s Garden is done with hand tools; in our work and our teaching, we emphasize the value of agricultural handwork, which can serve as an excellent foundation for farming and gardening on any scale.
Less than a half mile from the gardens, we raise field vegetables, hay, grains and bee forage on Crown Field, Pine Field and Horse Field. It is on these four acres of fields that we work with and pasture Captain and Eva, our team of Haflinger draft horses.
In our field and garden work, we strive to balance the goals of production, enhancing soil fertility, and creating spaces that support our educational work. Along with neighboring Duryea Farm of the Fellowship Community, we use our work with land and animals to create a farm individuality in a suburban setting.
Mac Mead, Program Director
Mac Mead has farmed and gardened biodynamically for more than thirty years. As a co-worker at the Fellowship Community beginning in 1975, Mac had the "privilege and good fortune" to learn biodynamic methods directly from former co-workers of Ehrenfried Pfeiffer.
Mac was raised in the Connecticut River Valley and graduated from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania with a degree in psychology. After college he was a co-worker at the Camphill Village in Copake, New York, from 1972 to 1974, where he did therapeutic community work and also taught nature and games at the fledgling Waldorf school there. As a co-worker in the Fellowship Community, Mac helped start the Third Grade farming block at Green Meadow Waldorf School, and taught that block for fifteen years; he also helped initiate the Pfeiffer Center's public school outreach program, The Outdoor Lesson. Over the years, Mac has gardened and farmed on every scale, from handwork to field-scale vegetables, tended an orchard, and managed dairy cows. Mac was the resident farmer at the Fellowship Community's Duryea Farm from 1997 until 2005. Mac has directed the Pfeiffer Center since 2007.
Megan Durney, Head Gardener
Megan’s previous experience includes several years of volunteer and community service work, including two years in the southeast after Hurricane Katrina, and organic farming as a WWOOF-er.
Following those experiences, she says, "I wanted to do conscious agriculture--making more of the spiritual connection with the earth. I've always been interested in healing work with people and with the earth, so I felt like biodynamics would tie those together. Other farms I've been on were a lot of labor, but not a lot of consciousness; even organic farms could feel depleting." Megan interned at the Pfeiffer Center in 2006-7 under Gunther Hauk, and continued as Garden Assistant when Mac Mead became Program Director of the Pfeiffer Center. Megan is a graduate of the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program.
Peter Alexanian, Intern
Peter’s path to the Pfeiffer Center began with five years as a Waldorf class teacher in Michigan. Feeling drawn to working with soil and plants, Peter apprenticed with Gunther Hauk, learning biodynamic farming and beekeeping. “Working with Gunther was a valuable experience, but even more dynamic was the experience of just being in the landscape, on the land, and in all of these amazing elements: earth, water, air, and warmth. I can recall a particular moment when I knew, with absolute certainty, that this was what I wanted to be doing.” A stint at the Hartsbrook Waldorf School gave valuable experience in both farm work and gardening with children. Of his second year as a Pfeiffer Center intern, Peter says: “I’m looking to deepen my roots and my senses, working towards developing those capacities that will allow me to participate in the healing of the earth and humanity.”
Jesse Ezekiel Tolz, Intern
Jesse found his love for nature at an early age, and Green Meadow Waldorf School (class of ’04) reinforced his affinity for natural processes. “After graduating, I followed the path that society has conceived and from different angles approached with good intentions to influence the direction we're heading. Then, sometime at the beginning of '12, I started marinating on my love of nature; my desire to live (not just talk about) sustainability; and my desire to nourish me and mine independent from our agribusiness system. I also realized that, no matter how lucrative, a career staring at a screen isn't for me.” Jesse connected the dots and became a Pfeiffer Center intern. He’s developing a biodynamic farm plan and hopes to find a landowner/partner in Columbia or Greene County, New York.
Kristin Parker, Intern
Kristin has a deep love of the earth and all the beauty and nourishment the earth provides for us. This love, and a desire to deepen her knowledge and understanding of what Steiner brought to the world, inclined Kristin to begin working with biodynamics. Kristin was drawn to biodynamics because within the methodology there is recognition for the need to nourish the earth, just as the earth nourishes us. There are clear intentions in biodynamics to develop a conscious and caring relationship with the earth, which are important to Kristin in considering working with the land. Though Kristin grew up in the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. suburbia, she has since become interested in ways to provide for herself that are not tied to the money economy. Kristin hopes to have her own farm someday, on which she can grow all her own food and live a self-sustaining life.