Learn more about the source of Finca Luna Nueva’s philosophy
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From the Introduction: “This very gifted man was an heir to the great culture of Europe. He watched a thousand years of its culture wrecked in “the Great War,” but he spent his days and years researching the human condition and our potential for further evolution. He came to see the human being quite objectively not as a cosmic accident but as a cosmic participant on a vast scale. And he became a master of practical action, helping plant seed after seed of a healthier culture, a new global civilization worthy of the best in us. He kept faith with the human being, both the ideals of our conscience and the reality of our needs and shortcomings. And because Rudolf Steiner knew our capacity to grow, he was a mentor and advisor on self-development, but not a guru substituting his will for that of his admirers. And so he provided a great and living map to the human future, both intimate and vast, which he called anthroposophy, “the consciousness of our humanity.” Download a free copy of this important publication that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rudolf Steiner and chronicles his achievements. http://www.anthroposophy.org/communications/nfm.html#c1197
Finca Luna Nueva--Your Waking Dream French philosophers write about l’imaginaire. There is no good translation of this word in English. “Imaginary” doesn’t really capture it. A waking dream might be closer. They mean by this concept the ability of a group or individual to express their idea of the world through a network of associated images that give it meaning. The waking dream of a possible world comes from our psyche, that place of images. This is the deep inner source of our unconscious where personifications of the collectively-held archetypes well up from the depths and are the source of creativity and innovation in our personal and collective lives. This work is what psychologist C. G. Jung called active imagination. Respecting these upwellings of expressions of the deeper archetypes and taking them seriously is an important, but overlooked or denied aspect of the work of our psyche--or soul work. When we actively imagine and create images of different lives and societies, we are building our own and our collective imaginaire. How do these ideas relate to the work of a biodynamic, organic farm and lodge in Costa Rica? Put simply, besides growing turmeric and ginger and a tropical farmer’s catalog of plants, and trees and their fruit, we grow ideas for personal and collective worlds that might yet be. We create and amplify the possibilities of sustainable farming and sustainable living for those who come visit and experience our imaginaire. Read the last journal of Tyron Valenzuela in this issue. His testament is a good example of how he created a personal waking dream through his experiences at Finca Luna Nueva. The Surrealists liked the idea of a musée imaginaire--a museum of waking dreams, a collection of the possible realities that have yet to be created. Finca Luna Nueva can be thought of as a museum of the waking dream When you visit our farms, and gardens and take our tours, when you experience the rainforest and it’s wildness, and stay in our lodge, you are in a museum of a different world, but a world you can create in your own dreams in the daytime, when you are awake and alive. -SD Make a visit to Finca Luna Nueva and discover a source of waking dreams. Write to Maurico Solano, the Lodge manager and tell him you want to start dreaming of new possible worlds.
The Gastronomic Journal of Finca Luna Nueva, Costa Rica.
Editors Patricia Spinelli Stephen Duplantier Art Direction, Design, & Production Stephen Duplantier Writers Roan St. John Rousseau Limonaxit All Rights Reserved Copyright 2011 Editorial Rizomas A division of the Center for Gulf South History and Culture, Inc. A 501(C)3 Non-Profit Corporation D. Eric Bookhardt, Director A Special Publication of Neotropica ISSN 1659-4657 Copyrights are retained by the individual authors and creators of the works. No copyrights on reprinted material and artwork have been intentionally violated. All use is fair use for educational purposes. Opinions expressed are solely those of the writers. No medical advice is implied or intended.
James Steven Farrell General Manager, Finca Luna Nueva Mauricio Solano Lodge Manager email@example.com Harold Eduarte Farm Manager firstname.lastname@example.org For information about Slow Food activities, write to Patricia Spinelli email@example.com
Finca Luna Nueva Lodge A Costa Rica Hotel Phone Hotel Reception: (506) 2468-4006, 2468-0874 San Isidro de Peñas Blancas, San Ramón, Costa Rica
The Geopolitics of Food by Rousseau Limonaxit
The Gallo Pinto “War” between Nicaragua and Costa Rica In 1969, El Salvador and Honduras fought a four-day war, nominally over a football match to qualify for the 1970 FIFA World Cup. Soldiers were mustered, armies shot at each other, airplanes dropped bombs. Thousands of people were killed or injured. A soccer match was the trivial event that sparked the brief, but deadly conflagration, but the real reasons were based on simmering tensions over immigration from Salvador to Honduras, and--a constant factor in warfare--a border dispute. This was the Guerra de Fútbol-- the Soccer War. The causes were much deeper than a sports rivalry. Tiny El Salvador’s landless campesinos, desperate to avoid starvation and to make a living, flooded into the muchlarger neighboring republic of Honduras. Behind it all was the power of the United Fruit Company that owned 10% of the country and the best farmlands. The giant company looked out for itself first by aggressively protecting interests of the oligarchs, and by fighting against campesino concerns for land and freedom from oppression. The Salvadoran campesino squatters in Honduras were met by a xenophobic reaction from Hondurans, and were expelled from the country. The soccer match was literally the match that ignited the powder keg.
Where was the Painted Rooster Hatched? The Gallo Pinto Problem Similar factors have been at play between those constantly-squabbling siblings, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, for years: there is a smoldering feud over the San Juan river border between the two republics; tens of thousands of Nicaraguans are economic migrants or seasonal workers; and there is a banana company connection involved. There has not been an outbreak of hostilities. The war of words and bad feelings is being arbitrated by international bodies. A trivial event in the Nicaragua and Costa Rica
conflict, happily that would not likely to trigger a real war, is a set of rival claims about which country can make the biggest gallo pinto in the world. It’s easy to spot this as a testosterone-fueled contest because there are claims involving deciding who has the biggest one! But the dispute goes back before there was a Guinness Book of World Records to record the planet’s silly human superlatives. Gallo pinto is just a plate of rice and beans, yet it has a huge symbolic importance. Both Costa Rica and Nicaragua claim that their particular combination of rice and beans started in their own country, and both countries like this simple peasant dish well enough to have named it their national cuisine. Fortunately no gunshots have been fired over this particular rivalry, though it seemed as if it might come to that recently over the disputed Isla Calero sitting in the middle of the San Juan between the fractious countries. This battle of the giant gallo pintos has the feel of a coordinated PR stunt. Fortunately, the nationalistic pride shown in gallo pinto seems always to have a joking, self-depreciatory air about it. Which country is correct? We need to do some sleuthing to find out. First, can we determine how ancient a concoction is gallo pinto in Costa Rica? If the rice and bean dish is as important as is claimed, there should be traces of it in the record. A quick search through classic Costa Rican lyric literature and poetry shows poems written about buzzards, herons, volcanoes, orchids, oak trees, fog, dairy cattle, but, alas, no beans and rice. There is a recent
children’s poetry book entitled El Gallo Pinto by Javier Villafañe, but it is a collection of children’s poems about such topics as bells ringing underwater to wake up sleeping frogs and other such fanciful stories, but no beans. Another children’s book is titled, The Wedding of the Gallo Pinto. Maybe someone threw rice for good luck as the avian bride and groom exited the church, but here too, no beans, no rice, no Lizano sauce. To be fair, not finding paeans to gallo pinto in the literature of a nation is negative evidence, and not definitive proof of anything.
The Rice and Beans Mystery is Solved
What is the strength of rival claims? Nicaraguans say they had gallo pinto before the Costa Ricans, and that the dish was brought to the Caribbean side of the country by Afro-Caribbean people before it arrived in Nicaragua, spreading inland first and then to Costa Rica. Acknowledging the truth of the African origin of the dish via the foodways of Afro-Caribbean people is an important milestone. Costa Ricans seem generally unaware of any connection of rice and beans to the Black Atlantic diaspora, or if they did, it has been actively re-mythologized to exclude its African connection.
The Nicaraguans account is correct. The blending of African, indigenous, and Hispanic populations on the Caribbean coast are the source of the popularity of rice and beans. This same Caribbean coastline in Costa Rica was mostly inhabited by Talamancan Bribri Indians until the cutting of the forests and the banana plantation system. The Talamancans were killed and forced off their lands and Minor Keith brought in his black Jamaican workers to tame the forests. The stage was set for another introduction of the African rice and bean tradition, this time on the Costa Rican banana lands.
There is an unofficial Costa Rican claim that gallo pinto was created somewhat accidentally in 1930 in the neighborhood of San Sebastián, a barrio of San José, under very specific circumstances. The account of the gallo pinto origin myth that appeared in La Nación written by Dennis Meléndez Howell runs like this: a man named Don Barnabé promised everyone he encountered in the barrio that he was going to kill his rooster and serve it to his guests on Saint Sebastian’s feast day. When January 20th came around, too many people showed up to share a bite of the one poor rooster. The cooks at the feast quickly ran out of chicken meat and substituted beans and rice to feed the hungry guests. People joked with one another that they had a plate of their hosts’s gallo pinto, which was in reality nothing but beans and rice. This origin tale is, of course, a classic just-so story (an unverifiable and unprovable explanation for a cultural practice). The only interesting thing about it is that it was published in the main Costa Rican newspaper and is apparently taken by many people to be true, which it is surely not.
Here is how I have been able to piece the story together of how it happened. I interviewed a Costa Rican informant originally from Guanacaste. He worked on the bananeras for years in a fonda--a boarding house on a banana plantation. At the fondas on the remote plantations, which were too far away for the workers to return to their homes in the evening, several hundred men were housed and fed. My informant’s job was to cook gallo pinto in enormous quantities to feed the hungry men in the morning. The traditional Costa Rican early morning worker’s breakfast of tortillas, natilla (sour cream), cheese and coffee was not the practice on the plantations. Cheap and easy was the order of the day. Making tortillas for hundreds of men was far too labor-intensive. In place of tortillas, unripe bananas that had been rejected at the loading docks were peeled, boiled until tender and served as a tortilla or bread substitute. Every day, each worker ate a breakfast of this originally-African dish of rice and beans and starchy boiled bananas. The boiled bananas on the breakfast plates of the
In New Orleans, it’s called Red Beans and Rice. In other areas of the Black South, people name it Hopping John. In Cuba, it’s called congri when Blackeyed peas are used, and moros y cristianos when the cooks prepare it with black or red beans. The equivalent dish in Venezuela is pabellón criollo. We are talking about African-style rice and beans that spread to the Caribbean coasts of Central America and worked its way inland.
its original source in China. workers is more evidence of an Africanized breakfast. In Africa, green plantains were boiled, mashed and made into fufu--the starchy paste eaten in small fingerrolled balls that is an essential part of meals. Early in the Columbian exchange of food and animal products from one hemisphere to the other, yuca (manioc, or cassava) originally from the Amazonian tropics, found its way to the Old World tropics where it was a sensation. Cassava is now a staple of Africa, and indeed, of the equatorial world, and makes the best fufu.)
West Africans were master agronomists. The rice culture of the Carolinas in North America was the product of the skill of Senegambian gardeners and farmers. The skills for growing rice and especially the cultural foodways of eating rice and peas or beans is a defining trait of the Black Diaspora across the Atlantic and Caribbean regions. Rice and bean dishes are characteristically found across the islands, as far north as New Orleans (which has been called the most northern of the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico outposts of Afro-Caribbean culture due to its African populations).
There was no rice in the Neotropics before African rice arrived. Gallo pinto’s roots are African because the growing and eating of rice was a major West African cultural style. West African people, especially in the Senegambia region, were so successful at growing rice that an early name for the area was the Rice Coast. Rice had originally reached West African by the overland caravans of the Arabic traders bringing it (as well as the Muslim religion) from East Africa, and then, tracing backwards, across the Arabian peninsula’s sea routes from India and back to
My informant worked In the fondas, on the plantations in the 60s’, but what he knew and told me can be traced back through the reporting of Carlos Luis Fallas, the great Costa Rican labor leader in his classic book, Mamita Yunai, El Infierno de las Bananeras (“Mama United- the Hell of the Banana Plantations”), which is about the abuses of the United Fruit Company against Costa Rican workers. Fallas describes life on and around the planations. The men ate gallo pinto, also called la burra, though no actual donkey meat went into the worker’s breakfasts. The
exact etymology for this usage is obscure, but may be related to the familiarity the workers had with the common use of mules on the banana plantations to haul out the heavy stems of bananas before tractors or cabled banana trolley lines were common. Importantly, my Guanacastecan informant tells me that la burra as a synonym for gallo pinto was also heard in Guanacaste, a province of Costa Rica with strong ties to Nicaragua. He said many of the cooks at the fondas were Nicaraguans (as indeed many of the workers were). Black workers had been the salient factor in the success of Minor Keith’s railroad-building in the late 19th century. Jamaican rail hands, with an Africanderived resistance to the diseases of the tropics especially malaria and yellow fever, were the only way the railroad could be built through the coastal forests and up over the mountains to the Central Valley. As the United Fruit Company came into being and as its giant octopus tentacles began reaching into and controlling the natural and cultural life of Costa Rica and Central America, the Black workers were employed in a variety of jobs on the plantations. Thus the banana plantations in the Caribbean zone were the contact site where the tortilla-eating Costa Rican workers met the rice and bean eaters from Nicaragua and the various Islands on the Black Atlantic. Costa Rica and Nicaragua have staked their jocular, but charged nationalistic claims on their respective versions of gallo pinto. The Gallo Pinto War is deeper than mere culinary braggadocio and nationalistic jousting for space in the record books. Costa Rica and Nicaragua are at “war” over food because of competing ideologies and flat-out racism. The Costa Rican national mythos holds that Ticos are whiter, more European, more egalitarian, and more sophisticated than the browner, blacker, and more violent Nicaraguans. But origin squabbles aside, the winner of the Gallo Pinto War is gallo pinto itself. A morning scoop of rice and beans (with minor regional variations) has conquered Central America and the Caribbean and displaced the primacy of the thousands of years old maize traditions of the pre-Columbian era.
Beans and Rice
The foods of the world have more bordercrossing rubber stamps in their passports than the most tireless jet-setter. A geo-culinary analysis of the ingredients of a typical gallo pinto shows a common pattern among the recipes and food styles of the world: a crazyquilt culinary miscegenation. It’s interesting to compare the older southern U.S. versions of the dish which call for the beans to be cooked with pork meat and fat. Fat in the cooking adds greater flavor and helps produce creamier beans. A bad trend in Costa Rican gallo pinto is the use of canned beans. Most commercially canned beans contain MSG, a dangerous ingredient. Also, the beans are barely tender and have no flavor. Provenance of Typical Ingredients of Gallo Pinto Yellow and red bell peppers are from Mesoamerica. Cumin is from Western Asia. Salt, of course, is used everywhere. Black pepper is from India. Garlic hails from Central Asia. Cilantro is from West Asia. Black beans are from Central America. Water. Bay laurel is from Asia Minor. Rice comes from Africa. Hog lard is from pigs domesticated first in China. Sweet onion is Asian, with a worldwide distribution. Tamarind-based sauce (such as Lizano) require tamarinds, originally from tropical Africa. Chili peppers are Mesoamerican.
El Gallo Pinto --comida muy nicaragüense Fernando Silva
s una comida muy simple, casi no tiene más importancia que la de ser muy sabrosa; pero a pesar de esa elementalidad, cualquiera no puede así nomás hacer un gallo pinto sin poner mayor atención. Desde luego que me refiero al «gallo pinto» verdadero. Porque hay que decir antes de pasar adelante, que el «gallo pinto» no es el resultado nada más de revolver el arroz cocinado con los frijoles, sino que hay que tomar en cuenta otros elementos. En eso está la cosa... pero es que hay algo más...? Sí... y, agrego yo: ¿por qué se siente tan distinto el «gallo pinto» que te sirven en algún restaurante de Costa Rica o de Honduras, o en algún otro lugar de por allí...?, - Ahaá, porque definitivamente, tiene otro sabor, es decir es distinto en realidad. Entonces hay algo más sobre el sabor del «gallo pinto». Sí. Es el sabor del «gallo pinto Nica». Sobre ésto hay que decir más. Veamos como es la cosa: lo primero que hay que remarcar son las características propias de la cocina nicaragüense. El nicaragüense es gente que sabe comer y en el cocinar, va su imaginación, que se expresa aún en las comidas más simples. Hasta se ha dicho, que no es propiamente nicaragüense el «gallo pinto» porque se come en cualquier parte y que además los granadinos lo llamaban con el nombre de «moros y cristianos». El que se conozca y se coma en otros lugares eso mismo nos ha dado ocasión de comprobar su diferencia. Sigue siendo muy distinto el «gallo pinto» que se come en Nicaragua, al «gallo pinto» se come en otra parte. Fijémonos adónde está el secreto. El arroz, en primer término, tiene que ser el arroz que queda del almuerzo o de la cena del día anterior -arroz amanecido-; los frijoles deben estar sancochados, nada más y haber sido cocidos con ajo y que además se aproveche alguna cucharada de la misma sopita que contiene el frijol, para revolverlos enseguida. Entonces, para hacer el «gallo pinto», contando con estos elementos, se pone la paila al fuego con el
aceite y unas tiras de cebolla. Se deja calentar bonito, que quiere decir que no esté demasiado caliente; se echa el arroz bien desparramado y a medida que se va calentando en el aceite de la paila, se está moviendo constantemente para que no se vaya a pegar; en poco tiempo, se le va agregando al arroz los frijoles, humedeciendo al mismo tiempo la mezcla con la sopita de los mismos frijoles, cuidando que no vaya quedar ni «arrozuda» ni «frijoluda». Cuando la mezcla está al gusto del buen cocinero, se le agrega todavía una cucharadita de aceite, para dar tiempo de seguir removiéndolo en la paila; en ese momento, se le baja la llama al fuego y con un poco de paciencia se sigue moviendo lo que ya es un «gallo pinto». Todavía se lo deja con la llama muy pequeña y se lo tapa. Después de un rato se quita la tapa, se apaga la llama y se pringa el «gallo pinto» con vinagre, convenientemente; se le da otra revuelta, se le pone una tapa encima dejando una parte de la orilla retirada para que se orée y se ambiente. ¡Eso es gallo pinto; lo demás son cuentos...! Puede servirse enseguida; si se deja para más tarde no le llega mal darle su recalentada; pero se lo pringa otra vez con vinagre. En la mesa, el gallo pinto luce mucho con tortilla gruesa recién echada o tamal pizque, principalmente. Se puede acompañar el gallo pinto con boronas de chicharrón o frito; si está caliente mejor; tal vez con chicharrón de cáscara tostado y grasosito, pero en rigor, un gallo pinto de raza nuestra se come con tamal pizque, boronas de queso seco cáscara negra, y acompañado con una jicarita de pinolillo. Esto es más conveniente para lo que pudiéramos llamar «una cena de lujo», tempranera y que puede llegar a convertirse en un gran banquete, si este «gallo pinto» se come agregándole como un rito el corredor de una finca, viendo a esa hora de la tarde el encierro de los terneros. Extracto de El Nuevo Diario
Costa Rican-style Gallo Pinto
1 lb (450 gr.) Black beans. 3-4 chicharrónes (deep-fried pork skins) or 1-2 smoked pork ribs 8-10 sprigs cilantro 1 small or medium onion ½ small red and/or yellow sweet pepper 3 cups (700 ml) chicken stock or vegetable stock 2 cups (350 ml) white rice ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt 1-3 tablespoon manteca de cerdo (hog lard) or palm oil to fry the Gallo Pinto Sort and soak the dried beans overnight. Drain the beans and add fresh water to an inch (2.5-cm) above the top of the beans and pork fat, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce heat to a very low simmer until beans are soft. Alternatively you could use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker. Cooking the beans with fat improves the flavor and texture. Fat does not make you fat, so go for the flavor. Chop cilantro, onion, and sweet pepper very fine. Add one tablespoon fat to a large pan and sauté the dry rice for two minutes over medium high flame, then add half of the chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro and sauté another two minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender (20-35 minutes). Or, if you have leftover cooked rice, use that. Once the rice and beans are cooked you can refrigerate or freeze them. Keep a significant amount of the bean stock with the beans (½-1 cup 120-240 ml). Sauté the rice, beans, reserved chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro together in fat for a few minutes. Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped cilantro just before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the rice and beans are cooked you can also refrigerate or freeze them. Make up small batches of gallo pinto when you want it by simply sautéing them together. In Guanacaste cooks sometimes use hot red peppers instead of, or in addition to the sweet peppers. Some people add a tablespoon or so of Lizano or Chilera to the beans while they’re cooking. Every cook tries new combinations. Break the rules creatively. Adapted from http://costa-rica-guide.com/
A Lesson in Love
A Lecture on Honey Bees Note: This is a fragment of a lecture series on bees given by Rudolf Steiner in 1923. The text is the classic Steiner mix of Goethean science, practical folk wisdom and observation, slightly loopy metaphysical cosmology, anthroposophy, and a lyrical, poetic animism. No one else has thought or wrote quite like this, but despite the eclecticism of the mix, his methods do work. You have never heard bees described in such a way as this. At the end, you’ll love bees in a surprising way. With bees it is always the case that only very few chosen females, the queen bees, take care of all the propagation of the species. With the rest, the sexual life is more or less repressed, but in this sexual life there is another element—love life—which is, above all, a matter concerning the soul. Only when the soul element works on certain organs of the body do these organs become a manifestation, an expression of love life. Since this love life is held back in all the bees except a single queen, the sexual life of the beehive is transformed into all this activity that the bees develop among themselves. That is why those much older and wiser people of a time long ago “knew” about this in a very different way than the way we know things today; they knew that the wonderful activity of the beehive pointed back to the condition of the bees’ love life, the love life that these people associated in their minds with the planet Venus. About this we can say the following: If you try to describe, on the one hand, wasps and ants in this regard, then they are considered animals that remove themselves more from the influence of the planet Venus. Bees, on the other hand, are completely open to this influence and develop this love life throughout the entire bee colony. This is a very wise form of life, for you can imagine how wise it would have to be. I’ve told you various things about their method of propagation. There is unconscious wisdom in it, a wisdom that they develop in their observable activities. That which we experience within ourselves only at a time when our hearts develop love is actually the very same thing that is present as a substance in the entire beehive. The whole beehive is permeated with life based on love. In many ways the bees renounce love, and thereby this love develops within the entire beehive. You’ll begin to understand the life of bees once you’re clear about the fact that the bee lives as if it were in an atmosphere pervaded thoroughly by love.
But the thing that a bee profits from the most is that it derives its sustenance from the very parts of a plant that are pervaded by the plant’s love life. The bee sucks its nourishment, which it makes into honey, from the parts of a plant that are steeped in love life. And the bee, if you could express it this way, brings love life from the flowers into the beehive. So you’ll come to the conclusion that you need to study the life of bees from the standpoint of the soul. This is less true with ants and wasps. If you study how they live, you will see that they are not like bees in this respect, that they engage in a more sexual behavior. The bee, with the exception of the queen bee, is a being that would say, if I may put it this way: “As individuals we want to renounce all sexual life, so that we make each one of us into a supporter of the hive’s love life.”
The whole beehive is permeated with life based on love. In many ways the bees renounce love, and thereby this love develops within the entire beehive. They have indeed carried into the hive that which lives in the flowers. When you begin to think through all of this properly, you will have unlocked the whole secret of the beehive. The living element of this thriving, germinating love that is spread out over the flowers is also contained in the honey the bees make. You can study this matter further by eating the honey. What does the honey do? ... Honey creates sensual pleasure, at the most, on the tongue. At the moment when you eat honey, it creates the proper connection and relationship between the airy and fluid elements in the human being. There is nothing better for a human being than to add a little honey in the right quantity to food. In a
very wonderful way, the bees see to it that a person learns to work on the internal organs by means of this soul element. By means of the honey, the bee colony returns to humans the amount of effort the soul needs to expend in their bodies.... Whenever someone adds honey to food, that person wants to prepare the soul element for properly working upon the body, for breathing, as it were. This is why beekeeping can be a great aid to human culture; it makes human beings strong.... You see, when you consider that bees are influenced most of all by cosmic forces, then you will also see that bees provide the detour for humans to take into their beings what is right and necessary. Everything that is alive will function in the proper manner when it is combined in the correct way. Whoever looks at a beehive should actually say with an exalted frame of mind, “Making this detour by way of the beehive, the entire cosmos can find its way into human beings and help to make them sound in mind and body.” ... Thus, you will arrive at the point of expanding wisdom about the nature of humans to include true knowledge of the cosmos. Excerpts from a Lecture of Rudolf Steiner Given at Dornach, Switzerland at the Goetheanum. November 26, 1923 Copyright Anthroposophical Press
“Whoever looks at a beehive should actually say with an exalted frame of mind, “Making this detour by way of the beehive, the entire cosmos can find its way into human beings and help to make them sound in mind and body.”
Bees are essential
(but they are in trouble)
by Roan St. John
udolf Steiner was way ahead of his time in recognizing the importance of bees. We can only guess what he would have said about our current bee crisis of the mortal danger honey bees of the world are in from pesticide use. “Another day, another eco-crisis. Just another grim ecological fact to stack up with the rest of them,” you might think. But before you file this away in some mental limbo of dire ecological concerns in your fact-drenched brain, consider this: the pollination performed by honey bees is essential in making one third of the world’s food possible! If we lose the honey bees, agriculture would suffer a mortal blow. Global climate catastrophes and unsustainable farming practices have already put the world food supply at risk. We cannot afford to lose another third of our food crops that honey bee pollination makes possible. In 2006, there was a mass destruction of honey bee nests with about one third of hives in the United States disappearing. The trend has continued and spread worldwide. This phenomenon has been named Colony Collapse Disorder. Scientists have figured out a major reason for the perilous decline: something is making the bees susceptible to fungal infections. The name of the ailment, Colony Collapse Disorder, makes it seem like somehow it’s the bee’s fault--maybe they are losing some of their vaunted swarm intelligence and social insect skills, or maybe their “bee dances” have become decadent and no longer work. But a more accurate name would be bee genocide. This name is eerily appropriate because the culprits in the honey bee decline are the pesticides produced by agrotoxin manufacturers, especially the Clothianidin made by Bayer AG. (You remember Bayer: think aspirin, Nazi Germany, I.G. Farben, sponsorship of Dr. Josef Mengele’s pseudo-medical “experiments” at Auschwitz for which he was convicted of slavery and mass murder. That’s the same company.) To be fair, there are other factors in the honey bee die-offs such as climate change--a complex problem with no simple solutions. Yet against the background
of the huge intractable problem of solving the climate crisis, how corporate agrotoxin industries see fit to make money selling dangerous pesticides that directly and unnecessarily threaten an insect that 70% of the world’s major food crops rely on for pollination is beyond comprehension. “The world honey bee population has plunged in recent years, worrying beekeepers and farmers who know how critical bee pollination is for many crops. A number of theories have popped up as to why the North American honey bee population has declined--electromagnetic radiation, malnutrition, and climate change have all been pinpointed. EPA has ignored warnings about the use of clothianidin, a pesticide produced by Bayer that mainly is used to pre-treat corn seeds and used on canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat. Now a leaked EPA document reveals that the agency allowed the widespread use of a bee-toxic pesticide, despite warnings from EPA scientists. Clothianidin has already been banned by Germany, France, Italy, and Slovenia for its toxic effects. So why won’t the EPA follow? The answer probably has something to do with the American affinity for corn products. But without honey bees, our entire food supply is in trouble.” Source: Ariel Schwartz. EPA Document Shows It Knowingly Allowed Pesticide That Kills Honey Bees
What to do: Sign this petition http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_bees/96.php To U.S. and E.U. decision-makers: We call on you to immediately ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides until and unless new independent scientific studies prove they are safe. The catastrophic demise of bee colonies could put our whole food chain in danger. If you act urgently with precaution now, we could save bees from extinction.
An Awakened Dream An Intern’s Journal by Tyron Valenzuela
uring my 240 days at the amazing organic, biodynamic farm called Finca Luna Nueva, my life has changed drastically. Coming from South Florida, I had never lived on a farm, much less a biodynamic farm!
My journey at this farm began with apprenticing with Chino, the head gardener. Chino is a hardworking farmer who takes care of a lot of things and is always busy. I spent my first six weeks with him everyday in the gardens learning and observing how things work here. Chino always goes out of his way to show and teach you something, and one of the things we did was germinate and plant many different varieties of greens, vegetables, herbs and fruits such as zacate de limón, lipia dulce, verdolaga, hierba buena, chayote, orégano, catu, chile picante, menta, yuca, tiquisque, brocoli chino, lechuga china, espinaca brasileña, naranjas, rabiza, bananas, carambola, tilo, cola de gallo, and chaya.
Tyron Valenzuela with his farm mentor, Don Chino Inset: Spiny chayote
Chino is also in charge of maintaining the Sacred Seeds garden and every other week we would clean, weed, replant herbs, mix compost with calcium, and amend the soil with extra nutrients. This garden is really special to me, as it has many different medicinal herbs and is a magical place just to be in. One of my responsibilities as an intern was to be in charge of Café Luna, the smoothie bar at the lodge. For the last six years I have been living a natural, vegetarian, holistic lifestyle, while perfecting the art of making super smoothies that are not only delicious but nutritious as well. Finca Luna Nueva has interesting guests from all over the world, and it was a real pleasure to make them some of my special concoctions. A typical day for me would be to garden and farm in the mornings and in the afternoons when it was hot, I would go to Café Luna and become the smoothie ninja. We even made a Japanese-style green tea ceremony for some very special guests. I also made ice cream for the restaurant and played with making different kinds of sorbets. When I was making smoothies and interacting with guests there was a special synergy that made me really happy. One of my life-changing experiences was understanding biodynamics and how the universe really works. There are some who might not have enough faith to believe in these practices, but to me, biodynamic farming does work and I saw the positive impact on this farm. I learned from my hands-on experience when Matias, the farm’s biodynamic wizard, who came from California and stayed for a month. He teaches with a passion (something to look for when you want to learn something). We spent the first week of his stay double-digging six garden beds in the B.D (biodynamic) garden. Chino and his crew helped out with this task and following this project, we learned how to grind quartz between two panes of glass. This is a part of the process of making the B.D. preparation 501. We filled three horns with manure and buried them in the garden, where they will rest for approximately six months. One teaspoon of this prep is all you need to apply for one acre, according to Matias. We also learned how to make barrel compost by gathering three to five-gallon buckets of cow manure and mixing it with basalt, eggshells, and a special tea, then stirring
One of my life-changing experiences was understanding biodynamics and how the universe really works.
it on a round wooden table on the floor, going clockwise and counter-clockwise for about an hour. The end product is placed in a brick circle pit until the matter is transformed into humus. Every morning before going to the garden to work on the day’s project, Matias would give us some insight into biodynamics. One lecture that really got me tuned-in was on something called the “Golden Mean,” which is basically an explanation of how everything is connected to everything else. To give you an example of this, the Golden Mean is a ratio based on Phi, also known as the Golden Section, Golden Ratio, and Divine Proportion) and is a ratio or proportion defined by the number Phi (1.61803398874895...) It tells you how we can actually understand and follow the patterns of the universe and the world around us. Biodynamics and Rudolf Steiner have changed my life! During my internship I also developed my own projects which included green tea, papaya, pineapple, sprouting different types of seeds such as goji berry and working with cacao. I love papaya and I wanted the farm to have papaya forever, so I germinated over 150 papaya seeds and planted them on the farm. Papaya is one of the fastest growing fruit trees in the world (I successfully grew a papaya tree from seed to fruit in 9 months in Miami). Here at the farm we also have over 150 cacao trees and we harvested 80 of them. I dried half in the dehydrator and the rest were fermented. I extracted the oil from the ones I dried and then powdered the pulp, making pure cocoa powder! I served up chocolate smoothies and the most delicious chocolate ice cream. Green tea is one of my favorite beverages to drink and here at Finca Luna Nueva, we have about 40 Camellia sinensis (green tea) bushes. There are three mother trees from which we get seeds to continue the cycle. Making basic green tea is fairly easy: you harvest the leaves, then steam them, and then put them in the oven to dry for about 20 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Steven Farrell, our Chief Executive Farmer, asked that I make Hawaiian green tea. This style of green tea takes about eight hours to make and is completely different. Our first batch was fabulous. Our other intern, Sara Hartley, helped me
One lecture that really got me tuned-in was on something called the “Golden Mean,” which is basically an explanation of how everything is connected to everything else.
Chopping peppers for drying. Tyron working in CafĂŠ Luna.
and everyone liked it and agreed that this tea was aromatic and delightful. A long-term project that I worked on was with papaya and pineapples. Steven Farrell was curious to see what results could be obtained from growing the two together. The pineapples (about 20) were planted in a three-meter circle. Three to five papayas were planted in the middle of the circle. Now we are just waiting to see how they grow together. Finally, I want to say that trying to figure out why one is on this planet and what is one’s life mission gets amazingly easier when things start to align. I’ve received all the gifts I ever could have hoped for while interning here at Finca Luna Nueva. I met so many people, learned the local culture, befriended the local people, and even experienced a Christmas eve dinner with one family. I experienced so much of the beautiful nature of Costa Rica on our regular night, river, and water fall hikes. I never asked for any of this, and I couldn’t have asked for more. I believe such things come as a gift for working on something that one loves doing.
My dream is to own a biodynamic farm and live off my own land. A great way to live life, if you ask me!
Animals are essential on a Biodynamic farm--not for eating, but for working alongside the farmers.
I am off on another phase of my life now, but this experience is one that has expanded my world view. I developed many friendships, got to know what life is like in this region of Costa Rica, and indulged in beautiful nutritional habits along the way. I want to thank New Chapter, Tom Newmark, and Steven Farrell for making all this possible. And thanks to this experience, my dream is to own a biodynamic farm and live off my own land. A great way to live life, if you ask me!
Camelia sinensis plants-the source of Tyron’s green teas.
Tyron relaxes after a river walk with a piece of fresh pineapple from Finca Luna Nuevaâ€™s organic farm
Recharging Nature’s Forces by Sara Hartley While working in the field here at Luna, I am developing a wonderful rhythm of thoughts. I make sincere efforts to focus not only on the product of my work, but also to reflect on the process. It’s important to be aware of observations before and after, and ponder the effects on the immediate environment. What happens when you finally receive what you need? What is the next step? I have realized that during every single one of these steps are equally important--from the realization of a project to a reflection on its finish. In a major biodynamic project on the farm, we transform ordinary cow manure that we pack into cow horns into what we call in the biodynamic world “Preparation 500” --a vitalized, almost luscious humus, gusting with what Rudolf Steiner called astrality. But the maintenance of the energies of transformation and rejuvenation in the Preparation 500 pit is equally as important as packing the horns with manure in the first place.
Sara Hartley Cow horn manure-packer extraordinaire
Just a week ago, while digging up the 40 remaining horns out of the pit, I was thrilled to see the transformative process finished and the horns ready! When cow manure that has been packed into horns and buried for four months in a pit has completed the transformation desired in biodynamics, we end up with a cool, soft, colloidal, deep brown, humid substance that exudes the aroma of sweet earth. How does this happen? How does cow manure turn into nutrient-available, root-attracting, sweet-smelling humus? Rudolf Steiner, the founder of biodynamic philosophies and practices, saw the cow horn as the perfect vehicle for driving spiritual astral forces into manure so that over time the manure becomes so vitalized that when used in very small amounts, it allows plants to uptake and access all necessary nutrients. Then the plants take root and thrive in any environment, all the while remaining perfectly open to the reflecting and radiating life energies of the cosmos and earth. (I know this may sound strange iof you are not familiar with Steiner’s approaches). When the humus that was once horn manure is sprayed on the soil in a proportion of one loose handful diluted in water per acre, life is increased. That is what we encourage here at Luna Nueva--as much life as possible.
A pile of those mysterious manure-packed cow horns
We can think of these biodynamic processes in the same way as the sacred wisdom, tales, and stories of the wise elders in our societies. The more life there is the more capacity there is for a natural balancing of life to occur. Bring on the life!
Ismael’s drainage solution for the compost pit
Composting pit. A repository of earth wisdom.
After digging up these wonderful-smelling horns, the pit in which they are buried is left empty. But we must not forget about this pit! Reflection on what just happened in this special space must be done. The preservation of these existing transformative forces should be considered. With the help of Ismael, we designed a drainage system for this pit which we had found to be too wet of an environment resulting in slowed down transformative process of the horns. The problem was that about ¾ of meter below the surface the soil is extremely clay-like. So we took some PVC pipes with holes drilled in them, and put rocks on top to prevent soil from clogging the pipes. With fingers crossed that this would work, we then filled the pit with a semi-compost replicate. The layers, carefully overlaid and not mixed, consisted of top soil mixed with basalt rock, vermi-compost, freshly cut greens, and our biodynamic compost, all continually being sprayed down and moistened by some freshly mixed barrel compost. This preparation of our preparation pit is, as I have been taught, absolutely essential! It is in a sense like recharging and maintaining the batteries of the soil, the energy we would love to find still remaining in this area later on when we plan to bury another 200 horns filled with cow manure. The knowledge and wisdom of earth’s rhythms of energy and renewal will best be remembered if the transforming vitality of the soil is continued through composting. We can think of these biodynamic processes in the same way as the sacred wisdom, tales, and stories of the wise elders in our societies. In our human world, this sacred knowledge is kept through records, speaking, and education. In these compost pits, we create a safe environment where we maintain and nourish the knowledge the soil needs to maintain and grow life. May we all compost in peace! The lesson of these biodynamic farming experiences for me was that on-going processes are as equally important as the end product. I learned that maintenance of anything valuable is worth the time and effort, even though it may seem unnecessary and intangible at the time.
Fincawear presents Farm Tools Tee Shirts and Biodynamic Gear Available at our online store: cafepress.com/fincalunanueva
A small sampling of the kinds of merchandise available. Go to the website, pick a design you like, then match it up with your favorite kind of tee short or other very cool merchandise.
150 years of Rudolf Steiner 1861-1925