I did not get to touch a single drop of snow this week. I went to the capital of really delicious fruit for the Bio Dynamic Conference.

Note, there’s nothing in the photo that bears the shape of a bunch of grapes or a bottle of wine. However, the area is also a fine wine region! The realization came when I was getting to know the other guys who were staying at the same backpackers, and both of them are in wine making, they are the first wine makers I have ever met in backpackers.

I drove down early morning Tuesday in an attempt to beat the weather, which shows good success. Then I start to be nosy and nose around the area. What do growers do when they are in another region? Check out what other growers are doing of course!

Most of the cherry orchards here came complete with the orchard protection kit. The side function as a permanent windbreak which can replace the need for living shelter belts. The top can be used as frost protection, rain protection, bird protection, hail protection, or anything, its just the ultimate protection kit!

I also took the opportunity to look at how they prune and train their trees down here. It seems that they are vast difference, but also gave me an idea on how to innovate in our own orchard here. While we are living the luxury of pruning on a rather light 7 steps ladder, those poor guys down there are using the heavy 9 steps ladder.

It didn’t snow in the town of Cromwell that night, but the next morning we are blessed with wonderful views of snow capped ranges. I spent 3 hours walking around Lake Dunstan taking in the view and losing track of time. I went further South in the late afternoon to Clyde in order to meet up with Dennis from Denny’s Orchards to discuss about growing cherries organically. It is a very enlightening discussion especially when we talked about dealing with the dreaded brown rot as well as building soil health. I must say, that dirt beneath our boots in his orchard is one that I would dream to have!

I came bearing gifts. That evening, I went back to the backpackers but my hands were full and I was unable to open the door. A French couple opened the door for me, so nice of them and I shared with them each an organic apple I bought from Denny’s Orchards. In the evening, they made chocolate brownie and shared a slice with me! I always believe that the best things in life are free, here’s an example.

The next couple of days, I had a busy go around with the Bio Dynamic Conference. Going from vineyard to vineyard to farming station to vineyard to winery and on and on. Somehow, at BD vineyards, you don’t always just see rows and rows of grapevines. There’s always something interesting happening in the rows, or that happy smile of the people, or just the whole energy of the place. Maybe its just the animals.

Growing things with BD method might seem  out of the world for some people. Its not surprising when what we do on a field trip is to dig around the soil with our hand to smell and feel the soil. Or sticking our hand into a compost heap, dissecting it, and then, smelling and feeling the texture of the compost. Or that cow pat pit, which is something like a fermentation of cow dung, which we happily dig our hands into it, feel it, and smell it! Its a very touchy feely smelly affair. No, they don’t stink. In my opinion, they smell refreshing, something similar to the smell just after mowing the lawn.

We did some wine tasting as well. Its all Bio Dynamic wines. Compared to the wine growers and wine makers in the room, I am truly the amateur, all I know about rating wine is whether I will drink it or I will not. Interestingly, this is the first time that I have tasted such a diverse set of wine and all of them got the stamp of approval from me!

Truly, the people I met, the BD wines and the BD food that I ate, they are still very fresh in memory now. Such friendly and generous people they are, I even got a private tour of Glendhu Station’s food garden this morning before I head home because I did not get to spend much time there in our earlier field trip.

This journey, be it in gaining exposure and knowledge, and networking with other growers, is also a spiritual journey for me. Throughout the period, I live the moment in the present, from my heart. The outcome is just blissfully pleasant!

I am truly necked now, I shall write more about this in future entries. Tomorrow, I am going to prune our conventionally farmed orchard…

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