Biodynamics has an organic farming method, born in 1924, which suggests that the use of artificial fertilizers will have a detrimental effect on our soils and eventually our human spiritual development. It appeals to me because it values old-time farming practices, such as using compost, cover crops and manure.
By giving back to the earth these farm-produced fertilizers, a rich humus soil is created and maintained with very little cost.
Food is carbohydrates, proteins and fats made up of mostly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Guess what? These four elements are given to every farm freely in the form of the rain and air above our soils. Add a little sunshine and ‘poof’ ‘ plants can’t help but grow, just like they’ve been doing for eons. They don’t need artificial fertilizers, which, although promoting quick growth, lead to an unhealthy, unbalanced plant that is more susceptible to insect and disease problems.
‘Farms need cattle’ my dad used to say, and old-timers knew the importance of keeping animals on the farm. Biodynamics echoes this by pointing out that with the right number of barnyard animals, the farm will become a self-sufficient individuality. This means their manure not only fertilizes enough land to grow all of their food, but food for the farmers and crops to sell, too.
Farm animals transform plant growth and can fertilize more land than is needed to feed them. By moving the cattle around the farm, and carefully making hay and compost, a farm becomes a self-contained entity, capable of exporting some of the free carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen which is in the air and rain above it. Biodynamics reminds us of the old-timers’ advice ‘make do with what you’ve got.’
Planting by the signs is another old-time farming practice biodynamic farmers and gardeners employ. The planets and stars are constantly changing position and probably affect plant growth more than we know. Seventy-five years of biodynamic research has proven its effectiveness.
Homeopathic doctors use very small quantities of specially prepared medicines to cure people of diseases. Modern scientists have discovered the affects of radiations. Before the mid-19th century, instinctual peasant wisdom suggested that, by certain practices, people could make themselves and the land more fit to grow crops. In biodynamics, we concentrate the forces of certain substances to make powerful remedies to heal the earth.
Cow manure has great plant growing potential in it, as any old-timer will tell you. We strengthen this by burying cow manure in cow horns over the winter months, to create a homeopathic fertilizer. We stir one-third of a cup of it into three gallons of water for an hour, alternating deep vortexes one way for a half a minute, and then the other way for a half a minute. The we sprinkle the water on an acre of land in the evening, in a seemingly ancient ritual, which inoculates the soil with life-promoting enzymes and beneficial forces, and helps turn the soil into a rich, dark brown humus.
To balance this powerful earth energizer, we need to work with the sun forces. So we grind pretty quartz crystals, mix the powder with water, and bury it in cow horns during the summer months. One half of a teaspoon is again stirred homeopathically for an hour, and sprayed on the plants in the morning to promote ripening and nutritional qualities.
Compost plays a key role on the biodynamic farm, and again we make use of healing homeopathic remedies. The herbs yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, white oak bark, dandelion and Valerian are sewn up in animal organs, or otherwise prepared, and buried in the earth for a year. Then they are inserted into our compost piles in small doses to give their enhanced qualities to the entire compost heap, and eventually the land it is applied on, and food grown there, and the people who eat it.
The most important thing is that food grown on live soils gives health to humanity.
In nature, everything is interrelated. Biodynamic farms keep hedgerows, wetlands, forests and meadows not only for their beauty and wildlife, but because they harbor forces beneficial to the cropland. We try to imagine the forces hidden behind what our senses perceive.
Biodynamics has fostered the development of a new marketing strategy, too. People used to be able to make a living selling garden produce, and now, through Community Sponsored Agriculture, they can again.
A group of thirty or forty customers cover the farmer’s annual budget, and they in turn receive weekly baskets of produce during the growing season. The farmer is thus salaried and guaranteed an outlet for the farm’s produce, which gets to the consumer without any extra costs for the middleman.
All in all, biodynamics offers a new way, or maybe an old way, of growing the most nutritious and health-promoting food available today, and getting it to the consumer as easily as can be arranged. The earth needs healing and biodynamic farmers are helping to do it.
Biodynamics – excerpt from Best of the Barefoot Farmer Vol.II