What is Biodynamic Agriculture and Horticulture?
According to www.biodynamics.com, ideally, a biodynamic farm, garden or horticultural smallholding works as a strong, self-sustaining and vibrant single organism that recognises and respects the basic principles at work in nature. It is a complete system in which all the different elements of the farm are seen as parts of a greater whole. With farm animals at the centre, a self-sustaining, balanced and harmonious environment is the result.
Special manure and herb-based preparations are applied to the fields and compost to enhance and stimulate the microbiological life in the soil and improve fertility. These have been shown to significantly improve the health and well-being of soil, plants and animals, as well as enhancing the vitality, flavour and keeping qualities of the produce for the benefit of the consumer. With the soil sequestering up to 25% more carbon than conventional farming methods, the health of the planet is also cared for. Biodynamic is a sound basis for sustainable food production.
Biodynamic farmers and growers recognize that the life of a farm is open to wider influences. The more subtle rhythms associated with the sun, the moon and the planets form the basis of an annually produced planting calendar. This guides growers towards appropriate times for cultivation and sowing for optimal quantity and quality. The result is a rich and diverse farm, built on sound organic principles and embedded and sensitized to its surroundings. It produces food with such an individual quality that, as with wine, it can be described as having the ‘terroir’ of the farm – the sense of the place where it was grown.
Profound social change is now being triggered by new approaches to biodynamic, organic, and sustainable and community-supported forms of farming practice. Biodynamics calls for new thinking in every aspect of the food system, from how land is owned to how farms are capitalized to how food is produced, distributed and prepared. Biodynamics, then, is a type of organic farming that incorporates an understanding of “dynamic” forces in nature not yet fully understood by science. By working creatively with these subtle energies, farmers and growers are able to significantly enhance the health of their farms and the quality and flavour of food.
Biodynamics was founded in the early 1920s, when farmers, concerned about the declining health of soils, plants and animals, sought the advice of Rudolf Steiner, founder of anthroposophy, who had spent all his life researching the subtle forces within nature. From a series of lectures and conversations held at Koberwitz, Germany, in June 1924, there emerged the fundamental principles of biodynamic farming and gardening. This approach has been under development around the world ever since. The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association develops biodynamics in the USA, and the Biodynamic Association in Britain.