Biodynamic Agriculture

Biodynamic Farm

Avena Botanicals is the first Demeter-certified biodynamic farm in Maine. Biodynamic agriculture is a holistic and spiritually alive system of organic and ecological practices and philosophies based on the teachings of Dr. Rudolf Steiner. One of the core beliefs and practices of biodynamics is to help heal the Earth.

The foundational principles of biodynamic agriculture were outlined in a series of eight agricultural lectures given by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in eastern Europe in June, 1924. These lectures were requested by several European farmers who approached Dr. Rudolf Steiner (founder of Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy), for advice on how to improve the health of their depleted soils, seeds, crops, and animals following World War I. The biodynamic system of farming relates the ecology of the earth to the larger cosmos, views the soil and farm as living organisms, and places significant attention on soil health. Any biodynamic practitioner will tell a curious organic gardener that biodynamic gardening embraces similar ecologically sound organic gardening practices. The use of compost, green manures, cover crops, crop rotations, companion plants, and mulch are some of the practices used by both systems to build healthy soil and grow healthy plants. Creating and maintaining fertile soil without the use of toxic chemicals is fundamental to all biodynamic and organic farms and gardens.

It is in the spiritual realm that biodynamics goes beyond standard organic agricultural practices. One of biodynamics core beliefs is to help heal the earth by using specially made preparations that are applied to the soil, leaves and compost pile following the natural rhythms of the day, the seasons, and the moon and planets. Steiner taught that the regular use of the biodynamic preparations (refer to Deb Soule's book-How To Move Like a Gardener) would help garden soils be more open and receptive to receiving the spiritual impulses radiating from the cosmic forces. He also believed that the vitality of the food and herbs we ingest, revitalized by the use of the biodynamic preparations, would help humans be more fully conscious, more spiritually awake, more aware of the divine energy present in all of life. As an herbalist and biodynamic practitioner, my experiences have led me to see how herbs and food grown with biodynamic preparations and practices do contribute to the healing and awakening of humans hearts and minds. This gives me hope that humans will turn to living in harmony with nature and to cultivating an inner spiritual life that respects all living beings.

Steiner viewed the earth as a living organism, and believed that the damage caused by chemical fertilizers, toxic pesticides and intensive farming methods would not recover by just stopping these practice and replacing them with compost and soil amendments. His ideas for helping heal the earth were influenced by his early life in rural Austria where he grew up around peasant folks who followed the rhythms of nature and relied upon herbs for healing. Steiner's formal education included philosophy and Goethean science. He was gifted with an innate clairvoyant spirituality which he wove together with his science background to create a spiritual cosmology entitled Anthroposophy. He also initiated Waldorf Education, Anthroposophical Medicine, Eurhythmy (a system of specific therapeutic movements) along with Biodynamic Agriculture.

The quarterly journal called Biodynamics: Agriculture in Service of the Earth and Humanity states, "Biodynamic agriculture is a way of living, working, and relating to nature and the vocations of agriculture based on good common-sense practices, a consciousness of the uniqueness of each landscape, and the inner development of each and every practitioner." (www.biodynamics.com)

Listen to Deb's radio interview with WERU about biodynamic agriculture.