It seems this year that winter’s crystallization forces are particularly strong. Perhaps it’s the especially cold and snowy winter we are experiencing, or simply my state of mind and soul at the moment, but it is remarkable how filled with insight and inspiration my days have been. It has now been 10 years since my journey ”officially” began on the path of becoming a sustainable farmer, and patterns are beginning to manifest themselves; the way is becoming clearer.
Many different people, authors and experiences have guided me during this time, and biodynamic agriculture still provides me with what seems like the clearest, most sensible perspective on approaching this sacred craft. Many other schools of thought, such as permaculture, play important roles in my overall strategy on the farm, but I always try to fit them within the general biodynamic context.
Riverglen Farm is truly becoming a functioning, living organism. I do not merely seek to mitigate and diminish its destructive impact on the world by using ”organic approved” pest control and fertility strategies for annual cash crops of produce and meat. Instead, I strive for the biodynamic ideal of the ”whole farm”. Its complete, self-enhancing fertility cycles, boosted by Steiner’s preparations, enable the farm to generate life forces for the community. The farm doesn’t just transform imported products into consumable goods in a linear fashion; it creates consumable goods using excess energy coming from interconnected, circular systems.
The resurgence of organic farms and producers around Ottawa has been amazing to see over the past decade, as more and more people feel a connection to land and food, and choose to take up the honor and responsibility to feed ourselves and each other. It is truly a blessing to this world. It seems, however, that even this new, organic community favors the tending of annual vegetable crops, finishing started calves, raising purchased chicks and piglets on imported feed, throwing out the laying flock each fall, and relying on manure and compost sourced from industrial agribusinesses. Instead of training farmers, we are training a generation of organic cash croppers.
In February, when I walk out into the cold mornings to feed my hens, give the geese a fresh bucket of water and check on the cattle, I understand what it means to be a biodynamic farmer. It is at this time that I appreciate what it means to tend to life’s wonders, patiently, so they may resume their active growth cycles come spring time and yield their precious gifts. I still have a ways to go, particularly regarding seed saving, but nothing says sustainability to me like looking out my office window at the cows in the snow as they turn my field’s hay into the most valuable substance on earth.