As Bob Dylan so aptly chanted, “the times they are a changing”. Though many Americans may not realize the impending urgency of rethinking our food production policies, we will all be forced to do so soon. We are currently poisoning our soil and water with organophosphates, leaching our topsoil with production efficient corporate farming practices, drastically reducing the numbers of family-run farms, and depleting the nutritional value of the produce that we do manage to get to market. Now with the increasing costs of transportation fuel, we can no longer avoid the issue of how to feed ourselves. Our survival requires a shift in the way we carry out our agricultural mandate.
Biodynamic farming is a critical piece in the rethinking process of moving food production into a nutritionally viable place. Imagine true sustainability; a farm that heals its soil feeds a neighborhood and restores the soil to its original vitality. Biodynamics includes each of these principles in its unique approach to bring about balance to the earth with conscious farming.
Biodynamic agriculture has been around for 75 years. Philosopher Rudolf Steiner incorporated his holistic approach to the small farms of post-WWI Germany. He saw farming as more than mere food production. He saw it as a path to knowledge. Biodynamics treats the Earth sacredly and scientifically at the same time. Here are a few of the basic principles behind the biodynamic approach:
1. Plant life and the soil are bound together- The two cannot be separated. Without mineral-rich soil filled with beneficial bacteria and insect life, food will not thrive and absorb the nutrients that revitalize the human body when ingested.
2. Homeopathic preparations transform the Earth – There is a benefit beyond the nutritional component. Biodynamic preparations actually reverse the damage that has been done by traditional farming practices.
3. A self-contained farm is a healthy farm – The practice of keeping the processes of farming in-house keep costs down and ensure the freshest produce available.
4. Diagnosing the changes of nature – Rather than rely on pesticides and artificial fertilizers, biodynamic farmers take note of subtle soil changes, beneficial insect life, composting quality, and even influential astronomical occurrences.
5. Community Supported Agriculture as an economic model – Changing the methods for growing the food requires changing the vehicle for funding and distributing the sustenance. Building a community is the best model for survival. The shareholders ensure the financial health of the farm so that the farmer can focus on the long-term health of the plants.
6. True health comes from vital food – Can it be more obvious? Creating the maximum nutritional value in the plant is the first goal of biodynamic farming.
7. Nature is an expression of rhythm – This rhythm is required in our daily lives as well as the annual life of the farm. Health is ultimately derived from this breathing in and out. We have lost this in today’s age of wanting everything NOW. We cannot sustain a healthy farm this way and we will not be able to continue to manage our society in this manner any longer. Restoration of rhythm and balance is the new mantra for the Earth.