By Liz Verley
Camphill Village Minnesota is a 500-acre biodynamic farm located between Long Prairie and Sauk Centre.
According to Camphill’s website, residents living on the farm live together family-style in seven different homes and everyone shares in the responsibilities of life in the community.
Camphill is home to several volunteers and 22 persons with disabilities.
The first Camphill community was founded by Dr. Karl Koenig, an Austrian pediatrician and educator who fled the Nazi invasion in his own country and settled in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1939.
Koenig’s vision was to develop lively Camphill communities together with people who have special needs. Stephen Briggs, who grew up on the Minnesota farm and whose parents still reside at Camphill, left the area when he turned 18. Briggs attended college and obtained a bachelor’s degree in environmental science with an emphasis in sustainable agriculture. He returned to Camphill four years ago to become the farm manager.
He said his duties include managing the crop operations along with the management of the cattle, hogs and chickens.
“The goal of the farm is to provide meaningful work for the people of Camphill in producing nutrient-dense biodynamic food for our community and for sale to the public while increasing the health and vitality of our land base and those who consume the food,” said Briggs. “We strive to be self-sufficient within the farm organism and help the community to further itself in this endeavor.”
The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association describes biodynamics. It says, “Biodynamics is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, food production and nutrition. It was first developed in the early 1920s based on the spiritual insights and practical suggestions of Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner.
“Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself.
“Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being raised. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.”
Briggs said, “We are able to raise most of the crops needed to feed our chickens and hogs. The crops include oats, barley, field peas and open pollinated corn. Our cattle receive no grain. They are completely grass fed. This creates a lean and tasty meat.”
“Biodynamic farming is one of the first types of organic farming,” said Briggs. “We view the farm as its own organism and have it provide for its own health. Playing a big factor in this process is making compost from the manure produced by the farm animals and enriching it with the mineral enriched soil. Using this provides healthier crops, animals and people. Our crops are also planted with the subtle influences of the sun, moon and stars.”
“If you have healthy soils, you have healthy crops and healthy people,” he said. “We use no synthetic chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers or GMOs. Everything we use is organic. We are not certified organic. We abide by stricter standards than certified because we are biodynamic.”
At the present time, Camphill Village Minnesota consists of 500 acres, of which 230 acres are used for pasture or farm fields.
Beef is available for purchase by the general public and is sold by the quarter or half. This year pork will also be available.
The animals are slaughtered on site which is less stressful for the animal.
Persons interested in purchasing either beef or pork should call (320) 732-6365 or go to www.camphillvillage-minnesota.org for more information.
Briggs said, “I really enjoy my work here. The multitude of things that happen make it enjoyable. Because we are not strictly working for profit, we can do things such as giving special treatment to the animals. Also working with people with special needs adds a really fun element to my job.”
Call (320) 723-6365 to arrange for a tour.