Working with Biodynamic Compost

One of our biggest events this year was our biodynamic barrel compost workshop hosted this June. With the assistance of expert Abby Porter and in partnership with the Chesapeake Biodynamic Network, we embarked on making biodynamic barrel compost to be utilized in our flourishing member garden. 

Barrel Compost preparation was developed in Germany by biodynamic pioneer and researcher, Maria Thun, in collaboration with bio-chemist Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, to mitigate the effects of radioactive fallout from the above ground atomic bomb testing in the 1940s and 50s. 

The Biodynamic Association says it is “one of the easiest to make and most versatile composts. Barrel Compost is a wonderful carrier for the biodynamic preparations.” Barrel Compost (BC) is made with cow manure, paramagnetic basalt, and finely crushed organic eggshells and is mixed together for one hour. When we completed the first portion of the workshop in June, workshop participants, with the help of members from Moonlit Acres, helped us stir and flip the compost for the entire hour. It is then put into a barrel or brick-lined pit and biodynamic compost preparations (502-507) are inserted. The mixture composts for 3-6 months. We initially planned on using a barrel, but the one we had was warped and rotting. Special thanks to Michael Judge (from the CBDN and The Christian Community in College Park) for donating bricks for our BC pit! 

Earlier this month, we finished up the last stage of our workshop. After five months, the compost was finally ready! With the help of our friends at Moonlit Acres again, we were able to remove the completed compost from the pit, package it up in glass jars with peat moss on all sides, and safely store it in wooden boxes for the winter. However, we were also able to use some compost on the garden as well. By vortex stirring ⅓ cup of compost with 2.5-3 gallons of water for 20 minutes, we were able to apply the compost mixture to the member’s garden. This highly concentrated compost material increases fertility, stimulates plant growth, and is similar to homeopathic remedies. 

Be on the lookout for some of this nutrient-rich compost for sale next spring!

White Rose Farm: Summer 2022 Recap

As we settle into October and leave our warmest days behind us, we reflect on a summer of fun at White Rose Farm. Here are some of our highlights and updates from a successful summer season: 

Newly fenced garden: Thanks to the efforts of our president Kim Forry, a new fence stands tall around the perimeter of the flourishing vegetable garden. Special thanks to Chris, Alex, Richard, and Mel for helping dig post holes and put the fencing up this past June. The fence keeps vegetables and flowers safe, and it was a big relief to not have to worry as much about pesky groundhogs and other critters! 

The minimal-till experiment: In addition to our newly fenced space, this is the first year that we are experimenting with mindful tilling practices, which strive to disturb the soil as little as possible. By tilling with care, we can set clear intentions of no-harm with the soil.  

“As we lovingly placed our hands into the earth or our foot to the shovel to ”till” it, we were quite meditative and thoughtful about what we noticed as we turned the earth over for a new planting season. This is a totally different approach than mechanical tilling,” said Kim Forry, WRFC president. 

Despite the benefits, there is also a substantial increase in manual labor that accompanies digging rows and turning the soil by hand, which has made for some very hard and intense work. In the future, White Rose hopes to pursue tilling practices in ways that care for farmer wellbeing and soil alike. We are also striving to potentially partner with no-tilling organizations by using a crimper to lay down weeds and planting cover crops to improve soil health. 

Partnership with Moonlit Acres: We’ve had an awesome time spending time with our friends at Moonlit Acres Retreat Farm, a brand new nonprofit that creates and organizes events for adults with developmental disabilities. Over the summer, we’ve hosted them in outdoor yoga classes, workshops, meditative walks, and work days in the garden.  

Check out last month’s blog post to learn more about our partnership with Moonlit Acres. 

Exciting new workshops: At the beginning of the summer, White Rose Farm hosted a biodynamic compost workshop in partnership with the Chesapeake Biodynamic Network. During the workshop, participants learned how to make biodynamic barrel compost with expert Abby Porter. Barrel Compost (BC) is made with cow manure, paramagnetic basalt, and finely crushed organic eggshells. This highly concentrated mixture increases fertility and stimulates plant growth. The mixture composts underground for three to six months, and the final phase of the compost workshop will be hosted in November. 

Although the summer is over, there are still a few more opportunities for fun on the farm. All WRFC members are invited to attend our annual meeting, which will be hosted on October 22 at 12 pm. Join us in beautifying Sally’s site and voting on new board members. Reach out via email if you are interested in participating on the board!

White Rose partners with Moonlit Acres to provide on-the-farm fun

After a summer of fun and exciting learning opportunities, White Rose is excited to announce our partnership with Moonlit Acres Retreat Farm. 

Moonlit Acres is a brand new non-profit. They officially began operating in July, but hosted their pilot program for almost a year prior. During that time, they explored opportunities with White Rose to test run new experiences for prospective members. 

Moonlit Acres’ mission is to create and organize events for adults with developmental disabilities. According to their mission statement, they “meet our guest’s needs for retreat and renewal by providing memorable inclusive experiences through fun, engaging, interest-based activities on the property as well as in the community.” 

“We want them to create new experiences, try new things,” said Holly Bonney, founder and executive director at Moonlit Acres. Partnering with a real, operational farm where members could get their hands dirty was a very appealing idea. 

“We read about White Rose’s mission, and it was very similar to ours: bringing the community together,” said Bonney. 

For Moonlit Acres, spending time at White Rose has been a relaxing way to learn new concepts in fun ways. Moonlit Acres members want new experiences, and a lot of them haven’t spent a lot of time on a farm. The knowledgeable and passionate volunteers and coordinators at White Rose have provided exciting and new opportunities with this in mind. 

White Rose has hosted and co-sponsored a variety of events with Moonlit Acres this summer. So far, they have enjoyed outdoor yoga, workshops, meditative walks, and even just work days in the garden. 

One of their members expressed an interest in learning more about aromatherapy, so White Rose hosted a workshop exploring the properties of essential oils and their natural properties, such as lavender and rosemary. They got to put their noses to the test to see if they could decipher between the two plants, and found that it was tricker than expected! 

They also got to participate in the biodynamic composting workshop White Rose hosted this June. 

“They didn’t know anything about composting. The idea of recycling food was new to them, and it was very exciting,” said Bonney. 

Overall, the partnership has been a great opportunity to learn new things, relax, and share the beauty, bounty, and balance of White Rose. 

“We are so happy with White Rose Farm. The farm is so good at showing us things we wouldn’t have even thought about. They let people come to their own conclusions about how therapeutic nature can be, and our members get to be really free and enjoy it how they want to.”

“I could not be happier with the partnership,” said Bonney. 

Is your group or organization interested in learning more about partnering with White Rose? Reach out for more details!

Music Jams on the Farm

Looking for a great reason to get out on the farm? In the mood for some free live music? Look no further! 

In partnership with the Howard County Folk Society, White Rose Farm has been hosting old time music jams throughout the warm summer months. 

Old-time music is a genre of North American folk music. It is typically performed with a variety of acoustic instruments, such as fiddle, banjo, guitar, and mandolin. Old time music has historical ties leading back to British settlers to North America, and is considered a precursor to the modern country music of today. 

Jams at White Rose typically consist of three or four groups of friendly musicians from the Howard County Folk Society under cover of canopy spaced out along the grassy perimeter of the farm, with plenty of space for patrons to sit on their blankets and chairs in between. The musicians sit in a circle, building off of each other’s sound and energy. 

The HCFS was founded in 1985 to promote traditional folk Appalacchian and roots music in the area. In addition to their jams at White Rose, they also sponsor informal jam sessions and square dances. 

If you are a WRFC member and haven’t gotten the chance to get on the farm yet, no worries! There are still two more jams scheduled this summer for August 14 and September 4, from 12 – 5 pm, so make sure to mark your calendars. Upon arrival at the farm, park in our sign-posted and mowed field, pull out your favorite lawn chair, and join us for some great music. In addition to the tunes, this is also a great opportunity to harvest some fresh veggies included in a WRFC membership. 

If this all sounds amazing but you aren’t a member yet, don’t hesitate to reach out for more information; individual and family memberships are available. Join us for all our on-the-farm fun! 

Make sure to follow us on Face Book for updates, photos, and more information! 

Service Learning Beginnings

After a few days of heavy rain, Lee, Theo, Lucy, Jim (Theo’s dad) and I met at the farm to begin a Service Learning exploration. We toured, shared and few things about ourselves, imagined what the farm looked like in it’s prime and the possibilities for the future. We discussed potential projects we can do as a group and the possibility of parent/adult involvement during on farm work days.

Lucy, Theo, and Lee greeted every farm animal (I don’t think any were excluded) intuitively following the Biodynamic Principle, “farms and gardens work to bring plants, animals, and soil together through living, conscious relationships, so that they each support and balance the whole.”

I am honored to be guiding this Service Learning experience, and I can’t wait to see how each individual’s talents, passions, and skills contribute to the future of the farm.  It brings me renewed hope for the planet to see young people caring about the environment and taking action.

Midsummer Musings by Lucinda Herring

I had the pleasure of vising White Rose Farm for the first time on Saturday. I came for the wonderful puppet show of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” created and performed by Ingrid and Ole of Beech Tree Puppets. It was a blustery, blue-sky day. Birds joined Ole and Ingrid in song, darting back and forth over the puppet theater, as if they too knew to be part of the story unfolding there. It was a magical morning – the day before the Summer Solstice, which falls this year on June 20th.

I felt Sally’s spirit on the land there, even though I never knew her in life. Sally and I had connected deeply last September by phone and email. She was looking for someone to come and live on the farm with her, and had advertised that search. I was looking for a place to live in Maryland, because I was driving across the country from my home on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, to come care for my four-year old granddaughter during COVID. It turned out White Rose Farm was too far from my daughter’s house. I found a special home on another farm in Clarksville, but Sally and I were looking forward to my coming to White Rose Farm when I got settled. We had so much to share and talk about. We were kindred spirits, inspired and nourished by the same things – one of them being creating seasonal festivals and celebrations as a way to build community, and to co-create with land and place through the turning year.

But it was not meant to be. By the time I arrived in Maryland, Sally was gone. Her sudden death, and the loss of a potentially deep friendship was surprisingly difficult for me. I was thinking of this as I walked the land and visited Sally’s flower beds and gardens.

I was heartened to find St. John’s Wort growing sturdily on the land. St. John’s Wort blooms near the Feast of St. John the Baptist, which is June 24th, old Midsummer’s Day, a festival still celebrated in European countries today. There’s a connection between the Summer Solstice on June 20/21st and Midsummer’s Day, or St. John’s Day, on June 24th, just as there is a connection between the Winter Solstice on December 21st and the birth of the Christ Child on Christmas Eve, December 24th. It’s a weaving of more ancient customs that arise out of the land with the Christian liturgical calendar, a blending of both. Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream arises out of the magic and lore of this summer gateway in time. I have created Midsummer festivals for children, with bonfires to honor the sun at its greatest glory, stories about the faery folk who frolic and dance in the long lingering light, herb lore, singing, feasting and fun. It is a truly magical time, a celebration worthy of reclaiming.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) was considered an essential herb of Midsummer festivals, gathered and woven into wreaths, and hung on doorways and thresholds, or worn in the hair or on a belt for protection and balance. Its yellow flowers look like tiny suns, bright and golden, shimmering in summer heat. It is a potent medicinal herb, used for treating mental health issues, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. The herb also treats wounds, nerve damage and skin problems, among other uses. Its oil is collected from the yellow buds before they flower. Pick a bud and squeeze it, and you will create a deep purple red oil that can stain your fingers. That substance is used to make the tinctures, salves and soothing oils used for centuries to heal and restore balance and well-being to those in need.

White Rose Farm is in a time of transition and change – a threshold time, where uncertainty exists, but potential and possibility are also alive and present. I came away from my visit, grateful to have connected with Laurel and the land, with Sally, and with the St. John’s Wort growing there. What a perfect herb and ally to call upon, now, at Midsummer, and in all the days to come. Many blessings to White Rose Farm, to Sally, and to all those who feel called there now to be with the land in new and restorative ways!