When we visited the Demeter-certified Biodynamic estate Duemani the other day, we learned about a flowering plant called Erba Sulla. This bright purple blossom is hugely important in Tuscany and Abruzzo for many reasons- here at Duemani it was a telltale sign that the land Elena Celli and Luca D’Attoma had picked out for their vineyards would be fertile and full of the components their vines would need to survive.
Nothing escapes Luca D’Attoma’s notice in his vineyards.
Elena told us the hillsides of the estate, which had never been cultivated before the couple bought the property some 11 years ago, were covered with the stuff- lit up from afar with these fiery purple flowers. They knew this was a great sign, as the plant has deep roots which help break up rocky or clay soils, as well as doing the important job of returning nitrogen to the earth as a by-product of its life cycle.
This philosophy of Biodynamics outlines the gentle supplementation to the soil to help make the crops as healthy as possible. In a lot of way the process of Biodynamic farming seems so hands-on, so “interventive”. Sometimes it feels like Biodynamics is all about the external things the farmers add back to the soil. I think it’s also important to recognize the other practices these farmers use to support Biodynamic processes, like using naturally helpful “support” crops to boost the success and health of their overall farms of vineyards is another key element to this kind of farming.
After all, it’s only natural.