Agritourism in America
Biodynamic. It’s a word we’re hearing and seeing more often. But do you really know what it is?
According to the Biodynamic Association, the largest and oldest North American non-profit for sustainable agriculture, biodynamics is a “holistic, ecological and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food and nutrition.” In that sense, it’s very similar to organic farming – no chemicals, pesticides, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics or growth hormones are used in crops or livestock. There are even organic/biodynamic wines.
But beyond organic farming, biodynamic agriculture is rooted in the esoteric ideas of philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who originated the concepts that farmers have been adapting since the early 1900s. Think of biodynamic farming as “organic plus” or “super organic” – not only does it require strict adherence to healthy farming practices, but it also places supreme importance on soil fertility and following the natural rhythms of the Earth, taking into account the cycles of the moon, sun and more. Anything labeled biodynamic must be approved by Demeter, the world’s only certifier of biodynamic farms and products.
It’s all very complex, but we hope this eco-friendly philosophy encourages you to learn more and embark on your own agritourism adventure. That’s why we created GAYOT’s list of Biodynamic Farms in the US. While it’s in no way a complete directory, consider it your beginner’s guide to taking this increasingly popular lifestyle to the next level.
1. One Gun Ranch
Sweeping ocean views and meticulously grown produce are the hallmarks of this sprawling Malibu biodynamic farm that promotes living with the natural rhythms of the earth.
It’s just minutes away from the commotion of Pacific Coast Highway, but One Gun Ranch in Malibu feels like a world away. For more than eight years, Alice Bamford and Ann Eysenring have transformed this ranch into a certified-biodynamic farm replete with rescue animals (every animal from the dogs, horses and alpacas to the pigs and sheep has a name), raised vegetable beds and herb gardens, and communal outdoor dining areas. Although the ranch is not typically open to the public, the farm works closely with local schools to teach children about the importance of healthy eating, caring for the environment and understanding where food comes from.
One Gun Ranch uses “Super(ior)” soil, a soil grown in nutrient-filled compost, and offers customizable Farm Boxes which contain this Super(ior) soil and vegetables, salad mixes and herbs, that can be grown in your home, with or without a backyard. In addition to the tours for students and children, One Gun Ranch launched a collaboration with UCLA for the university’s Garden Amphitheater as well as a book called One Gun Ranch, Malibu: Biodynamic Recipes for Vibrant Living, which aims to help anyone enjoy a healthier lifestyle. You can find One Gun’s organic produce on Sundays at the farmers market on the Malibu Pier, plus other specialty items at their store, Ranch at the Pier.
2. Light of Day Organics
Light of Day Organics is your answer to biodynamic tea.
Founded by Angela Macke, a registered nurse and horticulturist with a background in holistic health, Light of Day Organics seeks to showcase tea as a product worth investing in and learning more about. By using hand-harvested botanicals, supporting farmers who engage in fair trade practices and utilizing sustainable materials for its packaging, this biodynamic farm aims to create high quality products that will improve the quality of life for its customers. Visitors can participate in tea classes, tastings and special events.
3. Apricot Lane Farms
This certified organic and biodynamic farm is located 40 miles north of Los Angeles in Moorpark, California.
Apricot Lane Farms places a significant focus on producing foods that are not only rich in nutrients, but also in taste. Using regenerative soil farming methods that cycle the nutrients and “heal the environment,” the land includes avocado and lemon orchards, plus a garden that produces more than 100 vegetables and 75 fruit varieties. In addition, Apricot Lane has “resident” animals — cows, sheep, pigs, ducks, guinea hens and horses — who play their own role in maintaining the sustainable ecosystem. Visitors can take farm tours on select dates as well as partake in volunteer and intern opportunities to get a more immersive experience of biodynamic farm life.
4. Hawthorne Valley Farm
This 500-acre farm in upstate New York is a biodynamic paradise for guests of all ages.
From a certified-organic creamery that churns milk from a 60-cow dairy herd to a two-acre Corner Garden that provides vegetables to stores and school programs, Hawthorne Valley Farm truly is the epitome of a self-sustaining community. In addition to growing livestock for consumption, the farm grows biodynamic grains for use at the on-site bakery and ferments its own produce at the Sauerkraut Cellar. Adults and children can take part in vocational programs, summer camps and interactive day tours. Visit the Hawthorne Valley Farm official website to learn more.
5. Pu’u O Hoku Ranch
Unplug at this Hawaiian island retreat the way Mother Nature intended.
Located on the remote Molokai island, Pu’u O Hoku Ranch is comprised of a certified biodynamic and organic farm, ranch, retreat center and a selection of tranquil accommodations. The ranch is home to grass-fed, free-range cattle and the farm offers a variety of fresh produce, both options which guests can consume directly from the source. Families and independent travelers can stay at one of the three cottages and larger groups can be accommodated at the lodge. Spend your free time hiking, surfing, swimming, taking ukele classes, or simply resting and recharging at this “Hill of Stars” ranch.
6. Hoch Orchard and Gardens
This 45-acre family-owned farm in Minnesota produces a bounty of organic fruit, from apples to berries to stone fruit.
It’s a family affair at this orchard and farm where you’ll find an assortment of chemical-free fruits that you can eat straight from the earth or pick from the tree. The Hoch family uses its harvest in a variety of sauces, ciders and organic wines you can buy at the farm. It’s also home to Grampa Jack’s Honey, made from onsite bee hives, and organic meat and poultry from orchard-raised livestock.
Hoch Orchard and Gardens offers tours, apprenticeships — including full-season internships that span the full range of farm activities as well as short-term internships focused on harvesting, packaging, processing and sales — and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares for the public.