Morning Star Farm: The Epitome of Sustainable Design

Farming in New Mexico is very diverse. There are 24,721 farms in the state, 90% are family owned, 5% are partnership owned, and 5% are corporation owned (“New Mexico Family Farms,” 2016). The average farm size in New Mexico is 1748 acres. Currently, the top agricultural products in NM are dairy products, meat animals, and cattle and calves to name a few. Industrial systems of meat production are often not sustainable. Animals are kept in close quarters, fed high-calorie diets with antibiotic/hormone supplements, and the animal waste is highly concentrated which lets off harmful fumes. When it comes to crop production, chemicals and pesticides are utilized and monoculture is practiced.

Throughout the decades, biodynamic farming has been practiced all over the world and in a variety of climate conditions. It has been proven time and time again that this method can be applied to a multitude of situations. Within the state of New Mexico there are several farms that choose to practice these methods. Morning Star Farm is situated on 2.5 acres and located North of Taos, in the village of Arroyo Seco. This farm is a viable model for biodynamic agriculture because of its diversity and healthy relationship with the community. It also serves as a method of farming that is a welcome contrast to the industrial form of agriculture found in New Mexico.

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The zodiac constellations, plant groups and elements that belong together. Image source: thegrowingclub.com

Biodynamic farming is a holistic, ethical approach to agriculture that was developed by the philosopher Dr. Rudolf Steiner in the early 1920s. Steiner‘s main theory is that the farm needs to be treated as a living organism and requires biodiversity to operate. In industrial agriculture, biodiversity is reduced due to pollution and soil erosion. Biodynamic farming is a closed-loop system that attends to the relationship amongst the soil, plant life, and animals. It is organized so that the waste from the animals, for instance, would become the nutrients needed by the soil. Industrial methods are not focused around the relationship between soil, plants, and animals. Animals are sometimes treated unfairly, and pesticides are frequently used that hinder plant growth and decrease soil health. Biodynamic agriculture is an organic way to grow nutrient rich food within a completely self-sufficient system. Within this method of farming, crops are influenced by the positions of the moon, sun, and other planets.

Studies on the subject have concluded that biodynamic methods result in enhanced soil quality and lower production when compared to conventional systems. Farms of this type will ultimately produce less; however, the soil content enhances the taste, nutrition, and quality of crop yields. Biodynamic agriculture thrives off diversity and focuses on regenerating the different areas of the farm to maintain a healthy balance. Waste is recycled into feed or fertilizer. Mixtures of manure, minerals, and herbs are introduced into the soil. This practice significantly enhances the quality, flavor, and nutritional value

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The cyclical system of Biodynamic agriculture. Image from Earth Haven Farm

of the crops that may be growing. This type of agriculture encourages farmers to develop a relationship with the cosmos and understand how they influence soil, plant, and even animal health. The initiatives behind this method of growing embody triple bottom line approaches towards ecological, social, and economic sustainability. Community supported agriculture is a system that was pioneered by biodynamic farmers. CSA groups provide the community with healthy, seasonal, organically grown food; keep in mind the ecology of the environment; care about families; and provide hands-on opportunities for people who wish to learn about farming. This practice stresses the importance of humans working with and learning from their environment.

Morning Star Farm was founded in 1991 by farmer Melinda Bateman. Two years later, Melinda began selling produce to local restaurants and the subsequent year, to farmers’ markets. In 1994, Melinda was the fifth farmer to join the certified organic agency in New Mexico. During 1998, the farm began making horn manure, which is a fundamental part of biodynamic agriculture. Cow dung is packed into a cow’s horn and then it is buried during cooler months. After 4 months pass, the horn is removed, the dung is liquified, sprayed and reintroduced into the soil as nutritious fertilizer. Melinda also started the first CSA in Taos, which was operational for a little over a decade. In the beginning it served 20 families and 100 when it was closed. Melinda has big plans for the future of Morning Star that include an outdoor kitchen to host farm-to-table meals and housing for interns/students to promote education.

Today the farm harvests a variety of seasonal produce such as cauliflower, garlic, turnips, beets, and much more! Eggs are produced year-round while flowers and fresh herbs are available every season except winter. In the fall, value-added products like pickles and honey are sold. Classes on various topics such as composting, basic gardening, and biodynamic prep making have been taught in the past. Morning Star Farm is a small farm making huge strides in the world of sustainability.

– Kathrine

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