By Ted Lemon
With Peter’s passing, the biodynamic community loses one of the key keepers of the biodynamic flame during the period after World War II. Peter was passionately devoted to biodynamics and to education. During many years he worked tirelessly to promote biodynamic practice in New Zealand. His passions took him to India, where he found a much more receptive, fertile ground, as mentioned in the recent Biodynamics journal. His work there was essential in establishing what has become a very vibrant biodynamic community. He received a personal invitation from Prince Charles’ head gardener to visit the Prince’s private gardens. Peter and his companion Rachel Pomeroy, a wonderful biodynamic practitioner in her own right and a gifted teacher of the relations between the starry heavens and the earth, spent years traveling back and forth to India right up until the time when Peter’s health would no longer allow him to travel. His accomplishments are far too many to list. And, of course, he wrote the eminently practical book, Grasp the Nettle. It should be in all biodynamic libraries.
In 2004 I met Peter and Rachel at their home in Hastings, New Zealand. I had traveled there with a client, Burn Cottage Vineyard in Cromwell, New Zealand, and we were in search of a biodynamic consultant for the new enterprise. I will never forget my client’s reaction to Peter when we landed at the airport near Hastings. Peter met us there, dressed, in a sporty Kiwi way, slightly natty — we might say "slightly preppy" in the US. No Birkenstocks, no beard, no tie-died shirt. Nothing like what the client imagined a biodynamic consultant might be. I was thrilled.
Peter worked with us for several years, traveling regularly between his home and the vineyard, helping to establish the integrated farm that it has become. He taught me different ways of practicing biodynamics than those I was used to in the US. He was always patient, yet enthusiastically demanding. Charming, but determined. He was an enormous support and mentor to our team in the vineyard during a time when most of the vineyards in the region thought that we were nuts. Grape growing is not easy in Central Otago…. We were the first biodynamic winery there. Peter held biodynamic conferences and field trips in the region and, within a few years, several wineries began to transition to biodynamic methods. Peter’s influence was essential, and that influence was due to his personality, his precision, and his well-grounded approach. I like to think that Rudolf Steiner would have had him sitting in the front row during the Ag Course. He visited us in the States and spent a few days with my wife and me. We held a course for wineries who came from near and far to listen to Peter. I count every moment of those days as precious.
Ted Lemon is the owner of Littorai Wines in Sebastopol, California.