An Old Farm Gets a New Story: The Alan Chadwick Garden Project
By Blaire Ladd and Ruby Head
Originally published in the January/February 2014 newsletter of the Biodynamic Association of Northern California (BDANC).
In the fall of 2012, the old Alan Chadwick Garden Project in Covelo, California changed ownership and landed in the grateful laps of an enthusiastic couple. With bright ideas and a knack for complicated projects, Ruby and Dylan took on the task of stewarding and rejuvenating the historic property. Like a hidden castle in a fairy tale, the land was forgotten, overgrown with blackberries and unkempt with a feral sense of wild. Uncovering the orchard from brambles, repairing infrastructure and increasing soil fertility were the initial tasks.
At the end of January my partner Brandon and I were blessed with the opportunity to move onto the farm with Ruby, Dylan, and their livestock guardian dog Jermuk. We are overwhelmed with excitement to make our shift from apprenticing to farming on our own. In the short time we have been here, there seems to be an endless supply of new projects that are met with joy and enthusiasm by Ruby and Dylan.
We have all agreed on biodynamics and are currently working on the first steps of becoming Demeter certified. The last day of January, after the much anticipated rain, we sprayed horn manure preparation over the land together under the vibrant stars of Round Valley. Walking the land fanning 500 with cedar branches, we felt the importance of this sacred tradition. Fortune shined on the farm and Stephen and Gloria Decater of Live Power Community Farm (former apprentices of Chadwick) gave us the prep and a barrel for the initial spraying. We look forward to the future of making the preparations on the property and in conjunction with the community of BDANC quarterly meetings.
Yet, before we can really start many of the projects, we have planned there are still a number of infrastructure issues that are in need of immediate attention:
- Restore two additional farm wells
- Install new farm irrigation
- Repair fencing
- Recover the Chadwick greenhouse
- Purchase high tunnels
- Outbuilding restorations
- Establishing a business infrastructure
With so many essential infrastructure needs, we are seeking avenues for funding and resources, which will be critical to accomplishing these tasks. We ask for your blessing and support for our new adventure and relationship with the land to breathe new life and vision into this historical farm. I’d like to thank everyone who has graciously welcomed me into the community and the biodynamic movement where I have been blessed to have excellent mentors and have made incredible friends. We look forward to giving updates on the progress of our new projects and the wonderful products we will be creating together.
Photos of the original Garden, including the greenhouse, from 1973-1978 by Richard Wilson can be seen on the Alan Chadwick website.