July 31, 2023 Posted in Uncategorized

Spotlight on: Erin Greene, Culinary Gardens Manager

While our viticulture team focuses on our 465 acres of wine grapes, the gardens and orchards are Erin Greene’s domain. Just about 26 acres in size, King Estate’s garden produces up to 33 tons of fruits and vegetables a year, plus flowers from the cutting garden which Erin fashions into beautiful arrangements for the Restaurant and Tasting Room.

Flowers from the King Estate garden in the Tasting Room.

Farming Biodynamically at King Estate

A native of Washington State, Erin was raised on a farm on Vashon Island and has been growing and eating locally sourced foods her whole life. After graduating with a degree in Biodynamic Agriculture from Emerson College in the United Kingdom, she operated her own farm, called Nourish Gardens, in eastern Washington and spent two years working for a 500-acre organic farm in California. Erin joined King Estate in 2018, drawn by the company’s commitment to sustainability through Biodynamic® agriculture.

Erin Greene. Photo by Andy Nelson

Blueberries and More!

During the growing season, Erin and her team will harvest anywhere from 50 to 350 pounds of produce a week. Right now the gardens are overflowing the tons of blueberries that are currently at peak ripeness in the blueberry patch and are for sale to the public in the Tasting Room. Vegetables picked in the morning will be served in tasty salads in the Restaurant later that day. (One of the salads is called “Erin’s Gathered Greens” in her honor.) What isn’t used there will be donated to food banks such as FOOD for Lane County.

Blueberries at the estate. Photo by Andy Nelson

Here’s Erin in her own words talking about Biodynamic farming and the importance of eating healthy, locally sourced food. Her comments have been slightly edited for brevity.

Biodynamic agriculture requires farmers to pay closer attention to the health of the soil, our personal relationship to it as a farmer, and its place in the greater ecosystem that surrounds us. I believe strongly in that wise proverb, “The footsteps of the farmer are the best fertilizer.” Biodynamics requires us to make time to observe and be present as an active part of the working biology of the land. It is all too easy in agriculture to get swept away in the ever-growing list of to-do’s. But I use the precious quiet times, when we apply Biodynamic preparations and during our weekly crop walks, to ground myself and to observe and cultivate the very personal relationship I have with the plants and the soil.

Plants respond to attention the same way we humans do. If we know someone is watching and rooting for us, we tend to perform better. That’s how I see one aspect of my role as a vegetable farmer here at the estate, as a cheerleader for each individual plant – watching in wonder and providing support as they do what it is they came here to do. Plant growth is one of the most natural and normal processes on earth, but oh the magic of it all! The total alchemy that happens every single time a dried-up little seed meets water and some soil, when the long held genetic memory within kicks into action and creation abounds. Springing forth from the darkness, a tiny sprout – small but strong, with the ability to grow into something huge – will bear the fruits of our communal labor to feed many, fruits that also hold the seed to carry that precious genetic memory on to the next generation and the next.