By Rebecca Briggs
While it can be nice to hear about biodynamics as “super organics” or “beyond organics,” that doesn’t really tell the whole story, at least in isolation. Yes, we look at the farm or garden holistically, we strive for a diversified and balanced ecosystem, and we advocate for many other good organic, sustainable, and ecologically sound practices. But biodynamics is, at its heart, a spiritual-scientific approach to agriculture, food production, and nutrition.
This spiritual aspect, based on Rudolf Steiner’s insights, is truly what makes biodynamics different, as Hilmar Moore and Dr. Herbert Koepf both explained in the Spring 1989 issue of Biodynamics. Recognizing the sacred in agriculture runs contrary to the modern, conventional view of farming as an industrial process. It also runs counter to the mainstream scientific philosophy of physicalism, which believes that all of Nature, all of existence, is merely the sum of its physical properties.
In this issue, Dr. Paul Lee explains how master biodynamic gardener Alan Chadwick was a beacon of hope in the ‘60s and ‘70s to those who didn’t want to buy into that version of reality, who believed there was something more to the world. Chadwick’s words, even almost four decades later, are indeed a breath of fresh air. Having never heard him speak, reading transcripts of Chadwick’s talks has been tremendously enlightening. It is hard to imagine the reality of a man who spoke as he did, and who so insightfully and passionately expressed insight after insight.
We believe there is tremendous hunger out there for this kind of approach. Our conference this year focused explicitly on the theme of “Sacred Agriculture” and drew hundreds more than we expected. It drew people who were not only new to biodynamics, but who hadn’t even heard of the concept before seeing the poster or conference website. These people travelled long distances and took substantial time away from their ordinary lives because the concept seemed to get at something very important at a deep, deep level.
So yes, biodynamics does go “beyond organics.” Without dismissing the physical world, we seek to heal the earth as a living being through our sacred relationship with her. As Executive Director Robert Karp put it in his invitation to our conference, biodynamics “reveals to us the alchemical marriage of earth and cosmos within the realms of soil, plants, and animals and awakens us to our true humanity, our higher calling as stewards and healers of the earth.”