How does social justice relate to biodynamics and the work of the BDA?
May our feeling penetrate into the center of our heart, and seek, in love, to unite itself with the human beings seeking the same goal, with the spirit beings who — bearing grace, strengthening us from realms of light, and illuminating our love—are gazing down upon our earnest, heartfelt striving.
— Rudolf Steiner, “Verse for America”
The Biodynamic Association (BDA)'s mission is to awaken and enliven co-creative relationships between humans and the earth, transforming the practice and culture of agriculture to renew the vitality of the earth, the integrity of our food, and the health and wholeness of our communities. In order to fulfill this mission, we believe the BDA must recognize and play a key role in addressing the historical and contemporary injustices faced by both humans and the earth. Just as diversity in our agricultural fields does not happen on its own, but needs to be planted, cultivated, and nurtured by the stewards of the land, so it is our responsibility to actively plant, cultivate, and nurture diversity, equity, inclusion, and right relationships in the BDA, the biodynamic movement, and our communities.
Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition. Biodynamics, at its core, seeks to respect the spirit, dignity, and freedom of every living being. One of the ways we seek to cultivate this deep respect is by actively participating in dismantling racism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and all forms of oppression, and working to co-create ethical, just, and truly healthy human relationships in our farms, gardens, communities, and society.
Since its inception nearly a century ago, biodynamics has not only been a method of regenerative farming,gardening, and land stewardship: it has also been a potent movement for new thinking and practices in all aspects of life connected to food and land. For decades, many biodynamic farmers have integrated social and economic health into their work. Motivated by a desire to meet the real needs of people and the Earth and taking inspiration from Rudolf Steiner’s insights into social, economic, and spiritual life, they recognized that the biodynamic approach extends beyond simply growing food, but rather is interwoven with the health of the community, socially and economically as well as ecologically.
Today, many biodynamic practitioners are seeking to further deepen this connection to social justice, as we are witnessing with greater clarity the devastating impacts of long-term, entrenched, systemic racism across our society. There is deep suffering, pain, hunger, despair, apathy, and invisibility in our national and local communities from our country’s long history of colonization; white supremacy; erasure of Indigenous foodways, broken treaties that removed First Peoples from their land; and exploited, indentured, stolen, and enslaved peoples. Food and agriculture are inextricably connected with these realities. The wounds of genocide, land theft, and slavery are still present in our landscapes and in humanity. We believe that biodynamics, in relationship with other movements for social and agricultural transformation, can play an important role in addressing and healing these wounds, creating health and wholeness in our land and our food and our communities. For more on some of the potential ways biodynamics might uniquely contribute to this healing, please see Cory Eichman's article Biodynamics, Social Justice, and Rudolf Steiner's Agriculture Course.
At the Biodynamic Association, we are continually striving to listen, learn, and deepen our understanding and practice of social justice, equity, and inclusion. We recognize that as an historically white organization, we are still in the beginning stages of integrating principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice throughout our work. The work of cultivating justice and healing needs long-term commitment from us all. It will require patience, humility, courage, and willingness to make mistakes. In the coming weeks and months, we intend to share more resources here to help you learn with us, and create intentional space for our community to come together to explore the intersections of biodynamics, agriculture, and justice, and how we can take steps to make positive change as a biodynamic community.
How can I learn more?
Consider taking part in the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge (link is external) offered by Food Solutions New England. Although the 2020 challenge is past, you can still follow the 21 prompts here (link is external).
Review the Young Farmers Racial Equity Toolkit (link is external) published by the National Young Farmers Coalition.
Discover whose land you live, farm, or garden on through the Native Land Digital map (link is external). Learn more about land reparations through the Land Reparations and Indigenous Solidarity Toolkit (link is external) and Soul Fire Farm's Reparations Map for Black-Indigenous Farmers (link is external).
Read and reflect on the following books and articles:
- Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
- Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land by Leah Penniman
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad
- Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
- Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds (for younger readers)
- Greed Does Not Have to Define Our Relationship to Land (link is external) by Robin Wall Kimmerer (book excerpt)
- Call It What It Is: Anti-Blackness (link is external)
- We're in a moment of collective trauma. But there are glimmers of hope (link is external)
We'll be adding more resources here. Please email us at email@example.com if you have any suggestions.
How can I become involved?
Connect and Support
Organizations working with social justice in relation agriculture, the food system, and the environment:
- Civil Eats list of local, regional, and national organizations working on Black food and land justice
- Institute of Afrofuturist Ecology: reframing the prison pipeline in New York: delivering skills, knowledge and resources to build an inclusive clean economy
- Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust: advances land sovereignty in the northeast region through permanent and secure land tenure for Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian farmers and land stewards who will use the land in a sacred manner that honors our ancestors dreams - for sustainable farming, human habitat, ceremony, native ecosystem restoration, and cultural preservation
- Seeding Sovereignty: (link is external) an Indigenous womxn-led collective, working on behalf of our global community to shift social and environmental paradigms by dismantling colonial institutions and replacing them with Indigenous practices created in synchronicity with the land
- Soul Fire Farm: a BIPOC-centered community farm committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system
- Wildseed Community Farm & Healing Village: a collective of people committed to stewarding this incredible resource as a permanent safe space for the sustenance and strength of Black, Indigenous and People Of Color, Queer and trans folks, those impacted by the criminal (in)justice system, and other communities on the frontlines of ecological disruption
- Yisrael Family Farm: transforming the hood for G.O.O.D. using urban agriculture as a tool for community engagement, empowerment and employment
We also encourage you to look into and connect with organizations, groups, farms, and individuals in your community that are committed to social justice and discover how you might become involved and support their efforts. Find out more about the particular issues where you live and how you can work to strengthen your community.
We'll be adding more resources here. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any suggestions.
Enrich the Biodynamic Community
We invite BDA members to watch our Member Conversation Salon recorded on Wednesday, July 1, on the topic of Agriculture and Justice. Our discussion focused on how biodynamic agriculture, justice, and healing can intersect, building on each of our own experiences and insights and the following articles:
- 4 Not-So-Easy Ways to Dismantle Racism in the Food System (link is external)
- A network of black farmers and black churches delivers fresh food from soil to sanctuary (link is external)
- Biodynamics, Social Justice, and Rudolf Steiner's Agriculture Course
This opportunity served as a starting point for members to connect, share questions, and support the beginning stages of integrating principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice throughout our work.
If you're involved with a regional biodynamic group, ask how it might connect with and get involved in regional or local social justice efforts, and how the group might collectively deepen its own understanding. Consider holding conversations salons or devoting portions of meetings to the topic, reading and discussing articles or books, or working together with a resource such as the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge (link is external) or the Young Farmers Racial Equity Toolkit (link is external). Explore how the group might become a stronger ally for regional BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) farmers, gardeners, educators, students, and consumers and how it might integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion principles into all its work.
This page is in process, and we will continue to add resources.
If there are any resources or ideas we should know about, add to this page, or follow up on as an organization, please email email@example.com. We deeply appreciate your suggestions, insights, and reflections as we continue our journey to learn, listen, and more deeply understand.