In many ways, biodynamic farming looks very much like organic farming: We use no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, we purchase certified organic seeds and animal feeds, and any soil ammendments we might use. The living soil is cared for by gentle tilling practices and by adding as much organic matter as possible in the form of plant matter, raw manure or carefully prepared compost.
One key difference seen in biodyfarming is the attention given to consciousness and intelligence at many different levels. For example, living organisms which make up soil posess a remarkable intelligence. They are able to transform organic waste into raw minerals and afterwards into humus. Humus particles are very stable and their loose, crumbly nature allows soil to store large amounts of air, water and soluble nutrients which plants need to survive. The plants, in turn, feed the soil organisms with sweet root exudates. Enhancing this system allows plants to thrive and develop to their full potential
The resulting high quality plants are able to fully sustain the animals which then feast upon them. Industrial food lacks nutrition because industrial farming does not allow for this relationship between plants and soil organisms to fully develop. Not only do consumers of industrial food find themselves lacking important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, but they become overly stressed and lacking compassion and sensitivity.
Biodynamic farmers set out to maximize the soil-plant relationship by using aformentioned organic practices, but also by preparing compost in such a way that encourages a variety of healthy soil organisms. Manure is mixed with other plant matter and innoculated by herbal fermentations, infusing the heap with specific types of soil organisms. When applied to the garden, this compost will strengthen the populations of desirable soil organisms, overtime changing native soil into rich, black earth. One more herbal fermentation is applied directly to the soil to further enhance the process.
The living farm organism – The ‘whole’ (or hollistic) farm
Many organic operations focus their energy into one type of production, such as vegetable crops or beef or grain crops. Biodynamic farms may also focus on one or two aspects of their farm in the context of earning a living, but never to the point of excluding other aspects. For example, biodynamic farms are required to keep animals on their farms for the manufactoring of manure and compost. In addition, a majority of the feed given to these animals must come from the farm itself. This adds yet another level to the soil-plant relationship. Animal digestion, especially by the cow, adds a special quality to the organic matter when it returns to the soil for decomposition. Enhanced soil life creates enhanced available nutrients which create enhaced plants which create enhanced animals which create enhanced manure which then returns to the soil. The self-enhancing nature of this system is capable of regenerating agricultural land.
Organic vegetable producers often find themselves importing large quantities of manure, compost or other fertilizers to compensate for all the nutrients they export off the farm. Whereas fertility on an organic farm is largely a one direction system, fertility on a biodynamic farm is largely cyclical, continually improving itself and creating a surplus for the community to enjoy.
Biodynamic farmers feel that suporting a variety of living creatures on their farms, including insects, birds, wildlife, shrubs and trees, is the key to creating a healthy space which can sustain the needs of its community. This semi-artificial ecosystem can interact with the natural ecosystem in a mutually beneficial manner and the result is a farm that can handle destructive forces such as adverse weather, pathogens, pests, electro-magnetic radiation, and chemical contamination of our environment.
The bioydnamic farm is adaptable, responsive. It buzzes with life all year round.
Demeter is the international accreditation body for biodynamic certification. It is already quite popular in some places such as Europe and Australia, but it is not well known in Canada. Our certifiers make sure we adhere to a set of basic standards agreed upon by biodynamic farmers world wide.
Find out more by following their website.
You can find out more about biodynamics at:
- The Society for Biodynamic Farming and Gardening in Ontario
- The North American Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association
- Demeter International
One principle we must grasp,
Otherwise no development will be possible in our crucial time.
Seek the truly practical life
but seek it in a way
that does not numb you towards the Spirit that is working in it.
Seek the Spirit,
but do no seek it out of greed for the supersensible,
from supersensible egoism;
but seek it, because you want to apply it
unselfishly in practical life, in the material world.
Make use of the ancient principle:
“Spirit is never without matter, matter never without Spirit.”
So that you say:
We intend to handle all material matters in the light of the Spirit,
And we shall seek the light of the Spirit in such a way
That it will kindle in us a warmth for our practical deeds.
Spirit that is led into matter by us;
Matter that is shaped by us until it reveals the Spirit it contains;
Matter that receives through us the Spirit revealed;
The Spirit that is brought by us to and into matter;
All this will build that active and vivid substance
Which can take humanity into real development;
Into that kind of progress that the people of today
In the deepest and most worthy longings of their souls
Can only but yearn for.
- Rudolf Steiner