History will remember 2020 for the pandemic that uprooted millions of lives and livelihoods around the world. Last spring, as the reality of COVID-19 settled in, we canceled courses and workshops, and reshaped our work at the Fellowship Community to accommodate their safety requirements.
But even as humanity grappled with great upheavals, the plant and animal kingdoms were bursting with life. Calves were born, beehives swarmed, and soon our greenhouses were overflowing. In May, hundreds of socially distanced friends and neighbors patiently lined up to purchase our plants for their home gardens – our biggest plant sale ever!
By season’s end, the farm had produced some of the nicest crops I have seen in all my years here – three times our usual potatoes, incredible winter squash and onions, and quality to match; not much did not go well this year. Beyond the field crops was an amazing diversity of farming activity: specialty greens, flowers, seed saving, cheese and yogurt making, honey, draft horses. It was all supported by conscientious and conscious application of biodynamic craft, especially the preparations (for vitality) and the peppers (for weed and pest control).
The wide range of work was matched by the people who made it happen: Megan Durney and Kim Pace, Courtney Ryan, Christian Nolan, Brendan Mead, our summer interns Jaime and Olivia, Fellowship elders and co-workers, and students from Green Meadow, the Otto Specht School, and Endeavor 21+. Networks of communities contributed to our production, and we touched many more with the produce that we sent to the Fellowship Community’s kitchen, our CSA, Threefold Café, the Hungry Hollow Co-op, and area food pantries.
The Pfeiffer Center internship returned this year as a three-month summer immersion in biodynamic agricultural production. Thanks to our collaboration with the Fellowship, our 2020 interns had a complete farm experience: handwork in the garden, field-scale vegetable production, processing fresh produce for storage, milking cows, and even haying.
Importantly, our internship is built around an experience where farm work and community life are intertwined. In 2021, the summer internship will be followed by a new nine-month program for selected summer interns to experience a full year of community-based biodynamic farming.
A final word on our educational work. Over the summer, as it became clear that the coming school year would not be normal, we debated whether and how to go forward with the twenty-fourth edition of the One-Year Part-Time Training in Biodynamics. After New York state issued guidance on programs for adults, we chose to keep the course alive, even if enrollment was small. In the end, more than 30 individuals committed themselves to the training. The COVID accommodations are a challenge for everyone, but that is balanced by the pleasure of serving these new friends who want to learn what biodynamics is all about.
We are proud to bring you news from our partnership with the Fellowship Community, about our thriving, productive farm, and about our growing and evolving educational programming. As we feed our neighbors, we are building community, training future farmers, and modeling a productive way of land care that works in a right relationship with nature’s forces.
For everything we accomplished this season, we owe thanks to our faithful donors, whose support over the years has gotten us where we are today.
Looking ahead, your donation this fall will enable us to take the next steps with our blossoming farm internship, and to develop new courses and workshops. Your support will make it possible for us to expand our seed-saving program, and to establish cheese making in our new creamery. Every dollar donated to us this fall will go to support the people and programs that are building a thriving community around a model biodynamic farm.
Thank you for your support.