• Step inside “Biodynamic Preparations Around the World”

    by  • 25 June 2021 • Biodynamics, Extract • 0 Comments

    Biodynamic agriculture first originated in central Europe but is now practised in farms, vineyards and gardens all over the world. At the heart of the biodynamic approach are the eight preparations – Horn manure, Horn silica, Yarrow, Chamomile, Nettle, Oak bark, Dandelion and Valerian – which are often produced by local biodynamic practitioners using well-established recipes. But as the biodynamic approach expands beyond its European origins, its methods have been increasingly adapted to meet the needs and challenges – climates, fauna, seasons and regulations – of different regions around the globe. 

    Biodynamic Preparations Around the World: Insightful Case Studies from Six Continents edited by Ueli Hurter (co-head of the Agriculture Section at the Goetheanum, Switzerland) presents the results of a unique study, carried out by the Agricultural Section, into how the biodynamic preparations are used in fifteen countries worldwide, including Egypt, Brazil, New Zealand, India and across Europe. The detailed case studies explore how the preparations are modified to suit their locations, as well as offering an insight into the work of each practitioner and how their understanding has evolved over the years. 

    In this extract we travel to the Seresin Estate in New Zealand and learn more about the work that they do:

    Introduction

    Seresin Estate is a diverse biodynamic vineyard. It is one of the most prominent places for preparation work in New Zealand, since it actively involves other biodynamic farmers as well as interested individuals from the region in all stages of preparation work. Various events related to the preparations take place throughout the year. All the biodynamic preparations are produced on the farm, and shared with other biodynamic farmers in the region.
    Michael Seresin, a famous cinematographer, owns the Estate and employed Colin Ross as his Estate manager from 2006 until mid 2015 when he was replaced by Jared Connoly. Colin converted the farm from organic to biodynamic and took on Wendy Tillman in the role of ‘preparations manager’.

    Colin Ross and Wendy Tillman

    The Seresin Estate is situated in Marlborough, the famous wine-growing region in the northernmost part of South Island. The estate of 160 ha (395 ac) comprises three plots of land: the Noa vineyard, with the winery in Wairau valley, and the Raupo Creek and Tatou vineyards.

    Though one of the sunniest places in New Zealand, Wairau Valley is classified as being in a cool, temperate region. Average annual rainfall ranges from 965mm (38 in) and there is a strong maritime influence. The annual mean temperature is 12.8°C (55°F). In summer temperatures can reach up to 30°C (86°F). During winter and spring, days tend to be warm (around 20°C, 68°F) and nights are cold. Ground frosts can occur on up to 86 days per year. The plots of land belonging to the Seresin Estate have their own wells or have access to a common well.

    Farm Portrait

    The Seresin Estate is named after its owner, Michael Seresin. Michael Seresin was born in 1942 and grew up in Wellington. He left New Zealand in 1966 and settled in Italy where he started his career as a cinematographer. He became a film director and was known for films like ‘Fame’, ‘Angela’s Ashes’ and ‘Harry Potter’. Colin said that Michael was fascinated by the culture of Italy, where wine seemed to be the ever-present hallmark of ‘a civilised life’. Whilst in Italy, Michael also got to know the traditional mixed farming system that was so typical of the ‘old world’. Having not come across it before, this way of farming inspired him.

    In the early nineties, Michael’s interest in wine became a strong passion. As he became aware of the quality wines that were starting to emerge from New Zealand, he decided to return and look for a place to start his own winery. In 1993, he bought 69 ha (170 ac) of land in the Wairau Valley – Noa vineyard. Michael’s vision was to have a mixed farm with wine production as a way of life. The trademark of the Seresin Estate is Michael Seresin’s hand print. It symbolises the unique qualities created by the caring, manual work of human beings. Michael’s vision is of a farm where people work with rigour, joy, energy, and unrelenting curiosity.

    Soon after taking on the farm, Michael changed over to organic farming methods and gradually converted to biodynamics. Although the first biodynamic preparation had been applied in 2002, full Demeter certification was only granted in 2010.

    The soils of Noa vineyard are mostly of alluvial origin. The core infrastructure of the operation is located on this plot of land – the winery buildings, wine cellar, machinery, place for making and storing the preparations, offices and a common room where farm staff gather for meals and meetings. The staff come in to work and no one lives on the farm permanently.

    View towards the mountains from the Noa vineyard, with a natural wetland and creek.

    In 2000 and 2001, two further vineyards were purchased: Raupo Creek and Tatou. Raupo Creek covers 76 ha (188 ac) and is situated in the hills beside Omaka Valley. The soil is rich in clay. Tatou vineyard is a 15 ha (37 ac) property with shingle-based alluvial soils. Noa and Raupo vineyards are not monocultures but diverse farms, with olive groves, extensive vegetable patches, natural wetlands, animal pastures and arable land.

    Besides the main products of wine and olive oil, the farm produces a number of other foodstuffs for sharing among the farm staff. There are three dairy cows, seven beef cattle, one hundred and twenty sheep, one hundred chickens, four pigs to dig the ground, two working horses to pull the preparation-spraying machine and two goats.

    There are about thirty people working on the Seresin Estate including administrative staff, marketing experts, and people to manage the vineyard and winery – a very diverse team from across the world. The wines produced are exported to Australia, Europe and the United States.


    We hope you enjoyed this extract from Biodynamic Preparations Around the World. Find out more about the book here and sign-up to our dedicated Biodynamics mailing list here to keep up-to-date on all our new releases and to receive exclusive offers!

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