Biodynamics Newsletter NEWS FROM THE BIODYNAMIC FARMING AND GARDENING ASSOCIATION
THE FARM AS A LIVING ORGANISM Welcome to our new newsletter! A supplement to the Biodynamics journal WE’RE THRILLED TO BE sending out this inaugural issue of our new newsletter, to provide you with news and updates in the interim between our spring and fall Biodynamics journals. There’s more happening all the time in the biodynamic community, so we hope this newsletter will prove to be a valuable resource and help keep you up to date and involved with everything. We will continue to publish the Biodynamics journal, complete with in-depth articles on biodynamic farming and gardening, research, education, and much more. But now you’ll be hearing from us on a quarterly basis, which we think is fitting given the seasonality of our members’ work. As always, we’d love to hear from you, so please don’t hesitate to call, write, or email! (You can find our contact information on page 4.) With gratitude, All of us at the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association
A farm is true to its essential nature, in the best sense of the word, if it is conceived of as a kind of individual entity in itself—a self-contained individuality. Every farm should approximate to this condition. — Rudolf Steiner Imagine we are small enough to go inside a cell, so small in fact that once inside we need binoculars to look around. We see something moving and squirming and we say, “That’s living,” and we see something that’s inert, like a crystal, and we say, “That’s not living.” But when we place ourselves outside the cell, we say the whole thing is alive. It’s the same with the eco-sphere. — Wes Jackson WE ARE THRILLED to announce that this winter the Biodynamic Association will offer a one-day event focused on one of the most foundational aspects of biodynamics, the concept of the whole farm as a living organism. (See page 2 for more details of the event.) While industrial agriculture tends to view soil as a lifeless mass, simply a physical structure to anchor plant roots and carry nutrients, those who practice the various forms of ecological, organic, and sustainable agriculture typically acknowledge that the soil is alive and that the health of the thousands of microorganisms living within the soil is essential to the health of the crops and livestock. In biodynamic farming, we take this a step further. Each of the parts of the farm—fields, woods, crops, livestock, compost piles, soil—are viewed as organs within a larger cell that the farmer is nurturing into existence—a single biological-ethical-spiritual organism, or “ecosphere,” as Wes Jackson says. At first, a farmer may be primarily focused on building up the physical constitution of the farm organism. Just as the human body needs a heart, lungs, and liver to properly function, so does a farm need a proper balance of enterprises. Too many crops and not enough livestock or green manures, for example, lead to nutrient deficiencies and the need for external inputs. Finding the right balance that is both ecologically and economically viable is a lifelong journey for farmers. As the organs of the farm are put into place and brought into balance, the biodynamic sprays and compost preparations can then be used to stimulate the subtle life forces of the farm, which have been so weakened by modern civilization. Horn manure helps rejuvenate the growth forces in the soil; horn silica helps plants draw nourishment from the air and light; while the compost preparations awaken the soil to the influences of wider cosmos, helping it 1
fix the nutrients the farm needs. The biodynamic preparations can thus be seen as a holistic, homeopathic medicine for the farm, helping to strengthen the farm’s vitality, build its immune system, and enhance the health and nutrition of everything that is raised on the farm. Through appropriate forms of food distribution and marketing, the farm organism then reaches out to touch the wider world, providing both physical and spiritual nourishment through the beauty, flavor, and vitality of the food we eat, through our relationship with the farmers and our identification with the farm. Eventually, through social, artistic, and educational events, the farm organism can become a living center for cultural renewal, extending its influence ever further. We hope you will join us as we explore this rich topic through in depth workshops, virtual tours of biodynamic farms, facilitated conversations, and a host of other lively sessions.
“THE FARM AS A LIVING ORGANISM” Pre-conference event to the 34th EcoFarm Conference the oldest and largest sustainable agriculture gathering in the western U.S. 8:00 am - 6:30 pm, Wednesday, January 22, 2014 Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CA Hosted by the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association in collaboration with the Biodynamic Association of Northern California (BDANC) and EcoFarm Stay on at Asilomar January 23-25 for the EcoFarm Conference, featuring more biodynamic workshops and a special networking event. Registration will open in late October.
• Alternative models to land access, economics, human relationships, health care, exchange of goods, leadership
OPENING A SPACE FOR THE NEXT GENERATON BING in Northern California
• Micro-enterprises • “Stronger on more legs”
BY BLAIRE LADD
• Commitment to common goals has to be linking string
SITTING IN THE DINING ROOM of a modern “farmhouse of the future” was the perfect way to kick off our third Biodynamic Initiative for the Next Generation (BING) meeting in California. Sarah King, manager of Live Power Farm, and I co-hosted the meet-up at the summer BDANC (Biodynamic Association of Northern California) meeting at Swallow Valley Farm on June 22. We started by having everyone say their name and use one word to describe something that inspires them about biodynamics. With about thirty people of all ages and interests in biodynamic agriculture, it was powerful to fill the room with so many inspiring words: rhythm, compost, cosmos, animals, vitality, etc. Our discussion topic for the meeting was: “How do we support the next generation of biodynamic farmers?” A unifying impulse was “alternative farm communities” as a model for social and economic viability. Here are some of the ideas:
• How do we bring land and people who want to create farm communities together? • Move away from purely economic models • Diversified revenue streams through education, crops, therapy medicine, craft products, tourism, etc. • Cooperative models • Group living/shared ownership • Producing more than just food • Increasing connections to our food and food systems Definitive solutions and answers were not the goal, but rather putting out the ideas, inspirations, and concerns for something new. Yearning for a connection to one another and nature that is grander and different than what we have now was very inspiring.
•Meeting place for health care, education, shelter, nutrition, arts, economics, elder care • “Farm as Heart”
Blaire Ladd is an apprentice in the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program (NABDAP) at the Raphael Garden at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California. BING (www.biodynamics.com/bing) is a project of the Biodynamic Association that creates opportunities for the next generation of farmers, apprentices, educators, activists, and others inspired by biodynamics to connect to one another. 2
SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE for Biodynamic Education WOULD YOU LIKE TO DEEPEN your knowledge and practice of biodynamics by attending a workshop, or bringing a biodynamic advisor to your farm? Any member of the Biodynamic Association who wants to participate in a biodynamic educational opportunity but lacks the financial resources to do so may apply for a scholarship through the Biodynamic Scholarship Fund. Shaylyn Decker, an apprentice in the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program, received support from the Biodynamic Scholarship Fund to
"Not only were the subjects engaging and riveting, but the people who shared their knowledge and experiences with us were so inspiring and assuring. The past two years have been a wonderful culmination of eyeopening and mind-expanding concepts that I can only begin to conceptualize and slowly incorporate into my aspiration of becoming a farmer. ...Being able to attend both has given me a well-rounded approach to farming in regards to understanding the relationships of plants and animals and humans to the entire integration of the farm as a whole individual." To apply for a scholarship or support the Biodynamic Scholarship Fund, please visit www.biodynamics.com/ scholarships or give us a call.
DON’T MISS OUT on the Fall 2013 issue of Biodynamics Featuring a wealth of information and inspiration from leading experts in biodynamic beekeeping — plus much more Renew or join by September 30 to be on the mailing list!
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I have concluded that a peaceful coexistence of technology, nature, and spirituality is a balancing act. On one side we have the pictures of Ed Burtynsky representing the dark side of technology and industrialization; on the other side we can observe the consequences of fundamentalists’ religions that take their spirituality to a completely different level. Each in their caricature form is ugly and dehumanizing, so—rather than thinking that we have to make a choice—there is more value in finding equilibrium between nature, technology, and spirituality. (Jean-Paul Courtens, “Technology, Aesthetics, Nature, and Spirituality”)
attend the Biodynamic Winter Intensives at Hawthorne Valley Farm in 2012 and 2013.
famous fresh-baked rolls. But, she said, back then it was only a few people who came for the preparations, and everyone else just saw it as a party with good food. These days, the group is smaller, but “they’re here for the biodynamics,” Petra said. “And that’s a good thing, moving into the future.” (Thea Maria Carlson, “Here for the Biodynamics: Spring Dandelion and Preparation Day at Zinniker Farm”)
Life is beginning to stir in nature, often unnoticed by the city dwellers, or even by modern farmers only in tune with technology implemented to fulfill the By noon we had traversed a large pastasks. It’s the time when birds begin their ture, filled our buckets, and were ready to annual flirtatious behavior and the queen return to the house for a potluck lunch. As is laying the first eggs of the new year. Yes, we ate, Petra Zinniker remarked that the it’s all about the birds and the bees. The crowd was not as big as in days gone by, colony’s new year has begun. when many families would arrive for the (Gunther Hauk, “Midwinter Dreams”) feast, lured especially by Ruth Zinniker’s 3
Check out our online calendar for biodynamic and related events across North America www.biodynamics.com/calendar
BIODYNAMIC BOOKS New Edition! Culture and Horticulture: The Classic Guide to Biodynamic and Organic Gardening by Wolf D. Storl, available through SteinerBooks, our official bookseller www.biodynamics.com/_webstore
Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association PO Box 944 East Troy, WI 53120-0944 Celebrating 75 Years
1938 - 2013
o BIODYNAMIC RESEARCH New Resources HAVE YOU CHECKED OUT THE RESOURCES now available online for biodynamic research? You can find a wealth of information: articles, related books, research institutes and organizations, and collaboration opportunities as part of our Biodynamic Research Development Program. Visit www.biodynamics.com/biodynamic-research to find out more.
COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS ITâ€™S FASCINATING TO BROWSE through the 300+ listings in the Biodynamic Directory, where you can get a sense of the incredible diversity in the North American biodynamic community. This benefit of membership in the Biodynamic Association has been building up steam over the past year, and we look forward to more growth in 2014. Through it, you can find farms, groups, businesses, and others who share your interests or region. We invite you to take a look, create a listing, and join the fun at www.biodynamics.com/directory2013. 4
Contact Us Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association PO Box 944, East Troy, WI 53120 (262) 649-9212 firstname.lastname@example.org www.biodynamics.com Executive Director Robert Karp email@example.com Biodynamic Education Program Thea Maria Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org Biodynamic Research Development Program Sarah Weber email@example.com Communications, Media, & Journal Rebecca Briggs firstname.lastname@example.org Membership & Sponsorship Margaret Thom email@example.com