A few of us cooks had the chance to take a little field trip to Southold NY, closer to the tip of the island. Our destination? A biodynamic farm raised by an even more dynamic woman named KK Haspel.
One definition describes biodynamic farming as a method of organic farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms, emphasizing balancing the holistic development and interrelationship of the soil, plants and animals as a self-nourishing system without external inputs insofar as this is possible given the loss of nutrients due to the export of food.
I certainly don't understand even a fraction of that goes into the techniques. I know that there was much talk of burying cow parts, compost preparations, water vortexes, and labyrinths. I also know that the day we visited KK's farm was one of the gloomiest I've ever seen. Stepping onto her land was like entering a modern day Fern Gully. Birds were chirping gleefully, flowers were in bloom and swayed in a light breeze as if dancing slowly, all the herbs and greens reached towards the skies-happy to be alive. A scene that is difficult to describe here.
Here's a short video clip that will do a better job showing KK's eccentricities and maybe a little evidence that her strange concepts just may be working.
KK had set aside nearly a quarter of her land for this special place where she claims "nature rests". She told me that nature is very busy and working hard over in the garden and needs a place to return to in order to rest and play. In the left hand corner of the meadow you may notice a series of circles. This is her "labyrinth" she told me, which she walks occasionally. To be completely honest, I have no idea why.
KK leading the way.
Nature has been busy, busy, busy.
Using her dowsing rods to talk to the crops. She asks them everything. From whether they want to be uncovered to whether they want to be watered. Apparently, they always answer.
The most beautiful garlic I've ever seen!
KK's husband built this table used for drying their previous season's crop of garlic.
The garlic has a very rich sweet starchy feel to it. When roasted, it takes on the properties of a roasted potato.
Some of the mustard greens. Delicious and spicy!
Snacking on some arugula flowers.
The flowers are almost better than the leaves! A little sweetness, a little toasty nut flavor, rounds out with that arugula kick we all love. Awesome.
Compost pile preparations. She told us that one of those little bags is enough to fertilize an entire ton of compost. Serious stuff.
Afore mentioned heap of compost. She mixes these into her beds every year.
These are just a few of the compost preparations available:
- 502: Yarrow blossoms (Achillea millefolium) are stuffed into urinary bladders from Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), placed in the sun during summer, buried in earth during winter and retrieved in the spring.
- 503: Chamomile blossoms (Matricaria recutita) are stuffed into small intestines from cattle buried in humus-rich earth in the autumn and retrieved in the spring.
- 504: Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) plants in full bloom are stuffed together underground surrounded on all sides by peat for a year.
- 505: Oak bark (Quercus robur) is chopped in small pieces, placed inside the skull of a domesticated animal, surrounded by peat and buried in earth in a place where lots of rain water runs past.
- 506: Dandelion flowers (Taraxacum officinale) is stuffed into the peritoneum of cattle and buried in earth during winter and retrieved in the spring.
- 507: Valerian flowers (Valeriana officinalis) are extracted into water.
- 508: Horsetail (Equisetum)
The most amazing part about all this, is that whatever she is doing is making a difference. These greens are the most flavorful, full of life, personality packed greens you will ever put it your mouth.
No doubt about it, KK Haspel is doing some very cool things out in Southold NY. Whether it's the biodynamics or just the sheer brilliance of a skilled farmer and woman that has pride and passion for what she does, her produce is stories above her competitions. Thanks for the tour KK! May you have a fruitful and productive summer.
Talk To Your Plants,
*Photo Credits: Adam Stacy - Thanks for the pics Adam!