By Sally Voris, White Rose Farm
In 1924, Rudolf Steiner gave a series of eight lectures to farmers in what is now Poland who wanted to understand why the quality of their food was declining. Those lectures form the basis of biodynamic agriculture. Steiner framed agriculture in the context of the cosmos. He said invisible spiritual forces, acting through the stars, the planets, the sun, and the moon, were vital to life on Earth. He asked farmers to imagine their farms as individual living organisms, and he gave specific practices to build farm vitality.
After some ten years of farming using biodynamic practices, I noticed that the produce nearly popped with energy and flavor. It was easier to farm. I felt like I was now dancing with a living partner—the farm. I realized that plants don't just grow out of the soil; they lift themselves (or are they pulled?) heavenward. When we are fed by such plants, we get that lift. To come to full flowering; however, the farm needs a farmer to mediate and balance its life processes. As the weather gets more erratic and extreme, it takes more will and skill to keep life on the farm dancing and breathing together!
In other lectures, Steiner spoke about how the Earth exists for the spiritual evolution of human beings. He outlined epochs and cycles of development in humans. Steiner foresaw that forces focused on materialism would become very strong in our time. Those forces deny spirit. It is our challenge, Steiner said, to develop our ability to balance spirit and matter through our hearts. Nutrition is essential to our spiritual development, he asserted. We need food that feeds our souls, our wills, and our spirits.
Our current industrial food system completely ignores this aspect of nutrition. The system produces commodities for consumers. It separates us from nature—the source of our most intimate and immediate connection with creation. Plants are the hands of God, said world-class gardener Alan Chadwick. When we use our hands in the garden, we touch those hands. There is something in us that goes out to meet every living thing, said theologian Thomas Berry. The inner world of man and the outer world of nature go together, he asserted. We are meant to connect with Nature and be fed by her!
There are, however, tremendous forces seeking to hide this essential truth. Government subsidies and agricultural institutions now encourage farmers to move their operations into controlled environments: hoop houses, green houses, barns, and buildings. Plants and animals have less access to fresh air and sunlight. Farmers use well water to irrigate their crops. Well water has predominantly Earth energy, whereas rain water contains vital atmospheric energy. Our food is losing its connection with the cosmic, spiritual forces in sunlight, fresh air, rain, and natural rhythms. We become less able to meet the challenges we face—less able even to see the forces that are drawing us downward.
We are the essential players here. We can awaken to that truth. Our birthright is connection, and so is our calling. We are co-creators of our world: what we imagine becomes the future. Can we hold a vision of abundance and hope? Or do we carry the images of despair and devastation that are swirling around us? Can we engage in work to restore wholeness to our lives and to our Earth?
It is not just a matter of where we get our food and how it is grown; it is also vitally important where we give to Nature, how we give to Nature, and why we give to Nature. What we do to Nature, we do to ourselves. When we dance with Nature as our partner, we reweave the web of life. We restore health.
White Rose Farm and its Circle were born out of love for life! People will give to this work because they want to cultivate their own souls, they want to honor those who have come before, and/or they want to prepare a space of love for those who are coming after. Let's make love the foundation of the new world! There is much to celebrate and much to do....
Photos by Ingrid Cowan Hass from a Chesapeake BioDynamic Network gathering at White Rose Farm.