The Secret to Biodynamic Farming in Malibu

Photo Credit: Martin Loff

When Alice Bamford and Ann Eysenring moved to One Gun Ranch, the spectacular 25-acre corner of paradise nestled into the Santa Monica Mountains, the Chumash tribe came over and saged the entire property. (The ranch was once owned by Matt Sorum, the drummer for Guns N’ Roses, hence the name.) The elder tribesman, named Horse, noted that he could tell from the rock formations that the land would have been a prayer ground many centuries ago. The sage prayer ceremony lasted 12 hours, which included erecting a teepee and conducting a drum ceremony. “The whole place hummed for five days,” says Bamford. “It was cleansed and filled with a beautiful energy.”

The Secret is the Supersoil

They keep that energy going on the ranch through education, collaboration with the local agricultural society, and with their biodynamic compost. The soil made from that compost, or “Supersoil” as they call it, is created in a five-day process of layering alfalfa, herbs and dairy-cow manure, among other things, with the help of members of the local community. “It’s like a prayer ceremony itself,” says Bamford.

Supersoil is the basis for the biodynamic farming they practice at One Gun Ranch. Bamford comes from a line of organic farmers; her family pioneered Daylesford Organic Farm and Restaurants in England and they own JCB, a manufacturer of agricultural and farming equipment.

Farming to the Rhythms of Nature

In Malibu, Bamford and Eysenring plant by the cycles of the moon and zodiac, working with the rhythms of nature to grow their biodynamic salad mix, carrots, kale, radishes, shiso leaves, Romanesco and just about any other vegetable you can imagine that loves good dirt.

Biodynamic does not just apply to the soil and farming; they’ve also developed an entire hyper-organic lifestyle that they live, breathe and work every day. As in Ayurvedic medicine, Bamford and Eysenring believe that our daily routine—from waking to exercising to eating to sleeping—should be merged with the cycles of the planets in the solar system in order to create a balanced life. They write that all humans, animals, microbes and even plants have built-in circadian rhythms, and we must respect our natural cycles. Hence, their daily routines are defined by the sun and moon.

How to Live the One Gun Ranch Way

And they believe we can do this, too. Their new lifestyle and cookbook, One Gun Ranch Malibu: Biodynamic Recipes for Vibrant Living (Regan Arts), not only shows how to make their Grilled Three-Color Cauliflower, Spiced Purple Cabbage with Pomegranate and other family specialties, but also offers charts on how to plant, harvest and eat according to cycles of the moon; interviews a slew of biodynamic heroes, such as Rudolf Steiner, the father of biodynamics; and of course, gives instructions for making your own compost. They write that whether it’s a new moon or a full moon, your husband’s, wife’s or your birthday, there is never a bad time to make compost. This book shows how to live the way they do on the ranch, with feel-like-you’re-there photography printed on lightweight, recycled paper, naturally.

Now all we have to do is start layering diary-cow manure and alfalfa. Or buy their Supersoil.

The Secret to Biodynamic Farming in Malibu

Excerpted from One Gun Ranch Malibu: Biodynamic Recipes for Vibrant Living

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About the author

Martha McCully is the Editorial Director of Bodhi Tree, and has started growing arugula in One Gun Ranch Supersoil on her back porch.