Our History

Honoring the Soil Beneath our Feet

The land where Threefold Community Farm now sits is part of the rightful territory of the Munsee Band of the Lenni Lenape people. We give gratitude for the soil beneath our feet and those who have tread here in common love of the earth for millennia.


First People

For more than 10,000 years before colonization, the Lenni Lenape cared for this land as a living being, giving equal deference to the plants, animals, rocks and streams as they would to their ancestors. The sustenance the land provided was a gift that was given, not a thing to be taken. The agricultural practices used were in harmony and balance with the natural world.


Beginning in the 1600’s Dutch, French and later British colonists began to occupy the area. Peace treaties with the colonists led the Munsee to believe they would have a shared right to use the land that belonged to no human being, but the treaties were broken and the Munsee were eventually forced to leave their homeland.


Duryea Farm was founded by Isaac Duryea, descendent of French Huguenot, Jean Durier who arrived in 1686.


Rudolf Steiner delivered his lectures on Biodynamics, “The Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture” in Koberwitz, Silesia (now Poland).


Several people interested in the work of Rudolf Steiner, known as the Threefold Group, purchased thirty acres in Spring Valley, NY to supply their vegetarian restaurant in Manhattan.


Gladys Barnett (later Hahn) and Elise Stolting of the Threefold Group traveled to Europe to be trained in Biodynamic agriculture. Upon their return they began practicing Biodynamics on the land purchased.


Neighboring land was purchased including a barn and several fields. A dairy developed along with extensive vegetable gardens to help feed local residents and students of the developing conference center.

1933, 1935, & 1938

Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, a colleague of Rudolf Steiner and a leader of the Biodynamic movement in Europe, was invited to speak at the Threefold Farm summer conferences. Also involved in medical work, Pfeiffer developed the “sensitive crystallization method,” a diagnostic test which earned him an honorary doctorate by Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia.


Dr. Pfeiffer moved to the United States, and founded the Biodynamic Association with others.


Dr. Pfeiffer started the “Biochemical Research Laboratory,” in Spring Valley, NY where both agricultural and medical research was conducted– making the Threefold Farm the center of Biodynamics in the US at the time.


The Rudolf Steiner Fellowship Community purchased the land neighboring the Threefold Farm with the stipulation that it be used to support an intergenerational elder care community.


“The Threefold Educational Foundation and School” was incorporated. In its charter, one of its stated purposes was to “establish, conduct, operate and maintain, without profit, gardens and farms for research, experiments and educational purposes.”


The Fellowship Community opened its doors, focused on care of the human being, land and social process. From the beginning there were gardens to provide quality food for the main dining room, and activities for community residents of any age.


Due to NY state’s stringent laws regarding the sale of raw milk, the Threefold Dairy was forced to close.


The Threefold Educational Foundation and Fellowship Community decided to share the use of one acre to grow vegetables. Over the next few years, The Fellowship rented most of the fields previously used by Threefold Farm.


Mimi Satriano and Ray Manaças, of the Threefold Educational Foundation, in collaboration with Sunbridge College and Green Meadow Waldorf School, brought about the Pfeiffer Center. This was a center, not just for practicing Biodynamics, but for providing educational experiences for the public and more specifically for training biodynamic farmers and gardeners.


Pfeiffer Center Program Director, Gunther Hauk began what is still known as the One Year Part Time Practical Training in Biodynamics.


The Fellowship Community purchased the Duryea Farm, a three generation farm adjoining both the Fellowship and Threefold properties.


The Fellowship Community and Threefold Educational Foundation began discussions about a farm collaboration.


An agreement was made to go forward with one farm team, consisting of a mix of Fellowship coworkers and Pfeiffer Center staff.


A Memorandum of Understanding was drawn up by both Boards giving permission to proceed with the project.


The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by both institutions. Our mission together is as follows:

“The farm exists to care for the living being of our land using Biodynamics to grow food with living forces that nourish the whole human being; to foster a learning community where people develop a loving relationship to the land; and to build a rich, inclusive social life, serving our home and surrounding communities.”