What is biodynamics?
First developed in the early 1920s by Rudolf Steiner, today, the biodynamic movement encompasses thousands of successful gardens, farms, vineyards and agricultural operations of all kinds and sizes on all continents, in a wide variety of ecological and economic settings. But what is biodynamics and why is it relevant to gardeners and farmers alike?
Biodynamics is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach concerned with the whole ecosystem of the farm. The goal of a biodynamic farm or garden is that everything needed for the health of the soil, plants, and animals comes from the land. A wide variety of farm animals, wildlife, birds, trees, plants and bugs help to create this self- nourishing model. The ideal is that the various parts of the farm or garden are interconnected and supportive of one another.
Biodynamics was first developed in the early 1920s by Rudolf Steiner and today, the biodynamic movement encompasses thousands of successful gardens, farms, vineyards and agricultural operations of all kinds and sizes on all continents, in a wide variety of ecological and economic settings.
Biodynamics follows the best of organic practices by using compost and companion planting in the place of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides. In addition to organic practices, biodynamics uses sprays prepared from natural materials from the land such as medicinal plants, quartz crystal, and composted manure. These sprays, known as “biodynamic preparations” increase and harmonise the vital life forces of the farm or garden and enhance the nutrition, quality and flavour of the food being produced/raised.
Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health, emphasising the importance of the farmer or gardener's personal relationship with the land. Keen observation, walking the pastures and gardens, and following one’s intuition are vital to the success and quality of biodynamic farming.
Read what The Guardian newspaper has to say about biodynamics 'Are biodynamic products worth the money?'
Take a look at our purpose built facility for biodynamic learni in this brief video tour of the Rachel Carson Centre at Emerson College.
Further reading about biodynamics includes:
A Biodynamic Manual - by Pierre Masson
Biodynamic Agriculture - by Willy Schilthuis
Cosmos, Earth and Nutrition: The Biodynamic Approach to Agriculture - by Richard Thornton Smith
Culture and Horticulture: A Philosophy of Gardening - by Wolf D. Storl
Gardening for Life – The Biodynamic Way - by Maria Thun
Grasp the Nettle: Making Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Work - by Peter Proctor
Soil Fertility, Renewal and Preservation - by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer
While not an introductory book, a core text for understanding biodynamics is Rudolf Steiner's ‘Agriculture Course’, the series of lectures he gave to European farmers in 1924 which initiated the biodynamic movement. The lectures assume a background in Steiner's philosophy and terminology, so newcomers to Steiner's work may not find the Agriculture Course to be very accessible. There are several editions available, but we recommend Agriculture: Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture, translated from the original German by Catherine E. Creeger and Malcolm Gardner. This text is also available as an audio recording.