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Supporting the Future of Biodynamic Preparations in North America

Background and Vision Statement

By Subgroup 2 of the Fellowship of Preparation Makers

December 2011

Mission: “To help ensure there are enough high quality biodynamic preparations available in North America into the future”

After reading, please take our short survey on preparation making and distribution

Introduction

The Fellowship of Preparation Makers (referred to as “the Fellowship”), previously called the Future of the Preparations is an informal, vital, and growing group that has emerged in the cultural/spiritual sphere of biodynamic agriculture. The Fellowship began its work with a conference in Copake New York in 2002, and has held annual conferences in various locations around North America since then. These conferences have focused on the intensive study and discussion of the biodynamic preparations and have strengthened the preparation making community.

In 2011, for its tenth conference, the Fellowship broadened its scope by expanding the study beyond the original nine preparations and meeting for the first time outside of the United States, when Canada served as the host country.

As the work of the Fellowship has evolved, four subgroups developed to address the mission and vision of the group. They are the “Conference Planning Committee”, the “Preparation Quality and Evaluation Committee”, the “Education Committee”, and “Subgroup 2”, which addresses other issues related to the Fellowship’s overall mission of ensuring the availability of high quality preparations in North America into the future.

The Current Landscape of Preparation Making in North America

The existing model for preparation making, distribution, and training consists of an informal network that includes 1) one national/continental center – Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Biodynamics, Inc. (JPI), 2) multiple local and regional groups of various sizes, and 3) many individuals with varying degrees of knowledge and experience. The vital and organic exchange among these three levels of activity is essential. The national/continental center (JPI) assures a steady supply of preparations to those who either choose not to make the preparations or do not have the capacity to make a sufficient supply of them. JPI also provides in-depth educational programs for both entry level and experienced BD practitioners and conducts preparation related research. Some local and regional groups and individuals also distribute preparations and provide some training.

The Emerging Vision

A guiding principle for our work on this task derives from Rudolf Steiner, who suggested that we should attempt to discern what of a positive nature is already arising and developing in the world, and then seek to intelligently support its organic process of development, the way a farmer or gardener supports a living plant. It is in this spirit that we have been working on the question of how to assure a supply of quality preparations in North America into the future.

One idea that emerged out of Subgroup 2’s discussions was the potential of developing one or more additional centers, similar to JPI, that would make and distribute preparations as well as serve in an educational capacity. We envision these centers being located in different parts of the continent, working closely together with each other, JPI, and any local preparation making communities and individuals in their area. Ideally, each of these centers would be based on, or working in close association with, a biodynamic farm. These centers may develop from existing biodynamic organizations or may be new initiatives. This model of multiple centers would provide greater access to training and additional insurance for the availability of preparations.

The Fellowship strives to serve as a harmonizing, heart organ among various biodynamic organizations and individuals, such as JPI, the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association (BDA), Canadian BD groups, the Demeter Association, biodynamic educators, researchers, consultants, and those doing grassroots preparation work at the local level.

Key Considerations

A number of other considerations, ideas and concerns have come forward through Subgroup 2’s work. These include:

1) Reaching New Audiences - Key to Sustainability: Our emerging consensus is that we see this as a time when an extraordinary growth of interest in biodynamics is taking place, bringing a host of diverse new audiences. From a business perspective, to create economically viable preparation making and distribution centers we must get as good at reaching out to these new audiences as we are at educating existing audiences. This is also an opportunity to bring the spiritual impulse of biodynamics to the continent and to the wider world.

We must foster the training of individual preparation makers and the development of local groups where as many people as possible can make the preparations themselves in a community setting, while continually reaching out to new audiences through effective marketing so that use of the preparations becomes ever greater.

2) Cooperation is Essential: When considering a future in which multiple larger centers are making and distributing the preparations, the need for cooperation between these centers becomes apparent. Sharing of resources, avoiding duplication of effort and taking advantage of economies of scale become relevant if multiple centers are established. While these ideas and concerns may be priorities in the future, at present we can only be sensitive to what is trying to emerge and to foster good communication and cooperation whenever and wherever possible. Fostering this communication and cooperation is one of the key roles of the Fellowship at this time.

3) The Role of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association: In Subgroup 2’s discussion of a more active role for the BDA in the preparation making community, we considered the BDA’s role as:

  • Supporting the organic emergence of one or more new regional/continental centers of the kind described above
  • Working to understand and address the needs of the preparation making community in the development of its emerging education and research programs
  • Providing direct financial and organizational support to the Fellowship
  • Integrating JPI and the needs of the biodynamic community into its fundraising efforts
  • Helping with outreach to new audiences and beginning to sell preparations on its website together with its books and other products

The Role and Structure of the Fellowship of Preparation Makers

Should the Fellowship remain simply a free association or should it develop more internal structure that could allow it to be more active in shaping the future? We all felt that the Fellowship should remain a purely free association and play a supportive role in both new and existing preparation initiatives.

A guiding principle upon which we agree is that we must continue to support what exists and is working well, and at the same time, we must remain open to change and evolution. If we do this, the future will develop in a healthy and natural way.

We invite biodynamic preparation makers and the broader biodynamic community to share your thoughts, inspirations, and any future plans you may be considering in regard to preparation making and distribution. Please take a few minutes to complete a short survey, or request a hard copy from Brian Wickert, 309 E. Decker, Viroqua, WI 54665, 608-606-1275, bwickert@frontiernet.net.

Sincerely,

Subgroup 2 Members

Wali Via (Oregon BD Group), Brian Wickert (Viroqua Biodynamic Group, Wisconsin), Robert Karp (Executive Director of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association), Karen Davis-Brown (Sierra Foothills BD Group), Joey Brinkley (California), Hugh Courtney (President of the JPI board), Dewane Morgan (Minnesota), Mark Ross (Ontario Canada Biodynamic Association), Bill McCranie (Texas), Patricia Frazier (Colorado)