Over the past couple of weeks, we were able to get to know Cesar (son of Dagoberto Marin, our biodynamic farmer in Peru) better. Cesar was visiting from Peru to learn more about coffee roasting, brewing and cupping. During our inspiring conversations, we exchanged knowledge with him, and he shared his experiences living on his family’s certified organic and biodynamic farm in Peru, La Chacra D‘Dago.
We discovered La Chacra D‘Dago by chance while on a sourcing trip to the Villa Rica in Peru, and have since then developed a solid relationship with the family, along with a sincere respect and admiration for their biodynamic way of life.
The principles of biodynamics are based on the spiritual, philosophical and scientific insights of Rudolf Steiner. Steiner maintained that for our civilization and planet to thrive and avoid our own self-destruction, we must understand the spiritual forces at work in nature. Emphasizing the interrelations between plants, soil and animals, using manure and compost over chemical fertilizers, biodynamic ultimately moves beyond organic principles. It advocates for a return to a more spiritual and connected form of being within the world. Biodynamic farming continue to grow and evolve globally, and as we deeply respect the sustainability and holism of this way of life, we were eager to learn more about what exactly biodynamic means to Cesar and his family in Peru.
Pictured here, starting from far left, is Dagoberto Marin, father, and his sons Edu, Hector and Cesar (far right). Cesar grew up as witness to the incredible patience and nurturing that his father Dagoberto practiced, day in and day out, to bring new life to the soil. Adopting a wholly self-sustaining way of life, the farm makes use of everything that it creates; nothing is wasted. Every part is recognized and respected as being integral to the whole.
In La Chacra D‘Dago, each organism plays an important role, from the algae all the way to the farmers. An abundance of trees, roaming animals and wildlife, including 40 chickens, 240 guinea pigs, 70 ducks, 7 geese and 2 peacocks, ensures that there is a richness and diversity in manure. Rich manure results in an increased mineral content in the soil, and thus, a superior quality of coffee.
The farm also has an abundance of vegetables, macadamia nuts, orchids and 4 ponds, with over 3,000 tilapia and other species. The farmers collect the mineral-rich algae, and mix it with compost, which then gets worked into manure.
During our conversation, Cesar continually referred to the term “biodynamic preparations”, or what he calls “medicine” for the soil. One specific method that is used by his family involves the filling of a cow’s horn with a small manzanilla plant. The horn is then buried for 6-7 months, and taken out during the winter equinox, after it’s had time to accumulate minerals, harness cosmic energy and release it into the soil. Another preparation is a cow’s horn filled with manure, buried in summer solstice and taken out in winter solstice. These preparations are amongst many that are aimed at healing and recovering the life of the soil.
As the Incas and Aztecs used the order of the universe to work with agriculture, harmoniously, Cesar believes that we must “stop teaching nature” and start letting it teach us. The term biodynamic might be new, but the practice is anything but. As Cesar and his family maintain, living a biodynamic way of life is a way to “remember who you are”, a way to rekindle your connection with the natural world.
At Salt Spring Coffee, we are proud to work with partners that share our values, and we continue to be inspired by the holistic worldview and tireless dedication of Dagoberto Marin and his family in Peru. We’d like to thank them for the passion, spirit and hard work that they bring to their coffee, everyday.