The concept of Biodynamic farming was introduced by philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner in 1924. In a series of lectures, he presented a holistic view of agriculture based upon a healthy farm, one with the right balance of plants and animals with sensitivity towards healthy soil life. While the mixed-farming approach predates Steiner’s ideas, he pioneered the view of an ideal farm — a Biodynamic farm — as one that can “produce everything it needs from within itself” and becomes a “self-contained individuality.”
Much as we think of our own bodies as organisms comprised of essential organs, the farm too is an organism, with various organs working in harmony. The whole farm is also an element of something larger — a component functioning within the larger context of its ecological and social communities. Like the human body, our farm and any farm can become ill if not well tended. We strive to keep our farm organism healthy, with all parts working harmoniously to create a sustainable whole.
Some basic tenets of Biodynamic farming include:
- The creation of a living “farm organism” which is in a stable ecological balance between land, plant life, animals, and human work and consciousness
- The importance of creating a healthy soil life for the health of the whole farm
- The use of compost as the basis of fertility
- The application of herbal and homeopathic preparations to enliven and balance the farm organism
Biodynamics is not a recipe book. Its most basic tenet may well be the need for the farmer to become a sensitive, sensing being, in touch with all of the life active on the farm.
To learn more, please visit the Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association.
Biodynamics and Anthroposophy
Steiner puts agriculture in the context of a cosmology, which he called Anthroposophy, or “knowledge of the wisdom of the human being.” Anthroposophy, also known as “spiritual science,” is the underpinning of practical applications in education, art, economics, medicine, dance, and movement therapy, as well as work with the handicapped and mentally ill.
A Biodynamic farmer will strive to “root the farm in the whole household of nature” and will include in his or her practice the conscious working with the rhythmical influences of the cosmos and other subtle life forces on the local habitat. In this way, the farmer builds up a personal relationship to the farm. This active participation is a key component of biodynamics. Following from this, it is self-evident that synthetic inputs (fertilizers and pesticides) and hormones are strictly avoided on a Biodynamic farm.