Our Garden, Fields, and People
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 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.
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 bees.
Less than half a mile from the garden, we raise field vegetables, hay, grains and bee forage on Molina Field, Pine Field and Horse Field. It is on these four acres of fields that we work with and pasture Captain and Paris, our team of Haflinger draft horses.
Midway between the garden and Molina Field is the Red Barn, site of our CSA pickup, metal shop, hayloft, and storage.
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 been Program Director of the Pfeiffer Center since 2007. He was the resident farmer at the Fellowship Community’s Duryea Farm from 1997 until 2005.
Mac began farming biodynamically in 1975, when he had the “privilege and good fortune” to learn biodynamic methods directly from former co-workers of Ehrenfried Pfeiffer at the Fellowship Community. Since then he has raised vegetables on every scale, tended an orchard, managed dairy cows, and worked with draft horses. The core instructor in the Pfeiffer Center’s One-Year Training in Biodynamics, Mac regularly speaks at conferences of the Biodynamic Association, the Northeast Organic Farming Association, and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. In 2016, he was an invited speaker at “The Spirit of Sustainable Agriculture,” a conference of the Harvard Divinity School.
Megan Durney, Head Gardener
Megan Durney joined the Pfeiffer Center as an intern in 2006. She takes a leading role in planning and carrying out each season’s production, and manages the Pfeiffer Center’s CSA and farm stand operations. She has conducted workshops on beekeeping, permaculture, canning and preserving, and biodynamic preparation-making, and she directs the Pfeiffer Center’s Neighbor to Neighbor youth gardening program.
Megan has served on the core planning group for the Biodynamic Association’s national conference, has conducted workshops at BDA national conferences, and has hosted many young farmer meet-ups. Her training in biodynamics included a one-year stint at Raphael Garden in Sacramento, CA, where she studied intensive production gardening and biodynamic seed saving under Harald Hoven.
Christian Nolan, Intern
It was during a stint as a full-time gardener at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, that Christian first heard of biodynamics and learned a few biodynamic practices. Intrigued by this new way of gardening, he felt a powerful call to learn more about it. He says that he chose to continue his education at the Pfeiffer Center because it seemed like the best place to learn biodynamics from the ground up. He is looking forward to an active year of education and discovery. In the future Christian sees himself traveling, working on other farms, meeting new people, sharing what he has learned, and learning from others.
Jeffrey Boyce, Intern
Jeff has felt a strong connection with nature since childhood. After a friend mentioned that biodynamics is a way to get deeper into nature, Jeff enrolled in the Pfeiffer Center’s One-Year Part-Time Training while waiting for an intern slot to open up. Jeff sees biodynamics as an opportunity to let nature be his teacher, and the internship as a path to nurturing his understanding of the relationship between human beings and the natural world. His interests are small community farms and practicing biodynamics as healing work.
Tanvi Koushik, Intern
An apprenticeship at Kimberton Hills Dairy left Tanvi feeling a deep connection to the health and fertility that cows give the land, the effect they have on the people who work with them, and the way their activity builds community around the farm. Tanvi’s Pfeiffer Center internship “has created an openness to new teachings, especially within the social and community context. . . . I came here for tangible experiences like mentorship in biodynamics and bee care, but along with this I am being asked to dig deeper in myself to actually take up what is being offered outside of my expectations. . . . Through the care of the land, I am especially drawn to contributing to healing traumas especially around issues of gender and the exploitation of the ‘feminine.’”
Muuhito Phillips, Intern
Muuhito grew up eating good organic food, but never had the experience of growing it. The urge to further his education and personal development, combined with the desire to learn how to nourish himself and others, drew him to the Pfeiffer Center internship. About the internship, Muuhito says: “Farming isn’t conceptual; it’s a direct experience. Working with a boss who is Mother Nature the learning process isn’t forceful but rather directly through my own hands and body, doing and creating. Here we aren’t just farming and gardening; we’re also working with kids, caring for animals, and meeting as a group regularly to study, check in, and plan the week ahead. All this has helped create the kind of deeper connections I was looking for.”