Biodynamic Farming + Futuristic Construction at Cowhorn

April 18, 2017

Spring greetings from the Applegate Valley! As we enter the second quarter, I would like to share with you some insights in to what makes Cowhorn different.

Perennial Polyculture at Cowhorn

The Biodynamic® farming method is a holistic system in which all the elements of the farm are important – air, water, soil, rocks, daytime, nighttime, animals. In essence, the growing of plants is a transfer of energy from those sources to a single point – the plant. When energy from those sources rearranges itself, a dry, hard, lifeless seed springs green. Biodynamic® farming uses methods to enhance the energetic plane in the farm, or in other words support the transfer of energy between forms. As these dynamic forces are strengthened, the dynamic and life-giving properties of the plant and earth are strengthened. So what does that mean about our farming techniques, or how do we do it? First, Cowhorn is a perennial polyculture, which means we grow and harvest more than a single crop and that those crops live more than one season. Biodynamic® farming rests on several key principles, one being that biodiversity is good for all creatures, great and small. Another principle of Biodynamic® farming is that the intellect of humankind is to be used. We must be respectful and thoughtful of all the realms that exist in our lives and spaces. For us, we have put that principle into action by intending to blend technology and art in the best way that we can to support the energetic principles mentioned above. In the vineyard, our spacing and trellising system is based on a mathematical equation of plant heights and length, and a ratio of leaves to clusters. A third principle of Biodynamic® farming is the application of specialized preparations that act as “fertilizers.” Generally referred to as “preps,” we adhere to the standards developed by the Demeter Association and are experimenting with tailoring our application programs as we gain more knowledge about our farm.

Cowhorn Builds First Tasting Room to LBC Standards

Completed in June 2016, our new tasting room is the first tasting room in the world built to Living Building Challenge (LBC) standards from the International Living Future Institute. The Living Building Challenge standard is based on 20 imperatives organized into seven performance “petals” or areas: place, water, energy, health/happiness, materials, equity and beauty. Every directive within a petal must be met, and you can accept anywhere from one to seven of the challenges. Always ones to embrace a good challenge – naturally Bill and Barb chose to pursue all seven. The LBC standards relate not only to construction, but also to operation and the mandates must be documented and metered for 12 months before certification is granted. For example, the water and energy petals demand the building, renovation or landscape and infrastructure be net positive; the building must collect and treat all water on site and produce more energy than it uses. It will be a year of audits and inspections, but by the end of the year, our new tasting room may be the 41st building in the world that will be fully certified, the first tasting room fully certified and the first commercial building in Oregon fully certified.

To learn more please click on the following link:

Thank you for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions about our Biodynamic® farming methods or the Living Building Challenge.

Best regards,

Josh Kimball
National Sales Manager
Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden