Behold biodynamic agriculture. It is impossible for me to tell you about this type of farming without feeling like mystic meg; this is why I think you will be drawn to it. You love things slightly of the wall and I think you will delight in its wackiness.
What is now ‘biodynamic agriculture’ started life as a series of lectures given by Rudolf Steiner. Steiner, the guru of BA, a bit like Da Vinci, wrote and theorised about several things but I think he is best described as a spiritual philosopher. In 1924 a group of farmers asked Steiner for help on how to make farming more sustainable and ecological. In response, Steiner researched the effects of chemical fertilisers on soil conditions. Unsurprisingly he found chemicals to be very harmful for the earth. He proposed alternative methods to experiment with to help the land. His approach has had dedicated followers ever since.
Biodynamic is a constantly evolving method of farming which is difficult to summarise and is better read about or studied. In shorthand, however, it is a holisitic appraoch to farming which works in harmony with the earth. For the biodynamic farmer, mother nature is an actual force. The farm should be considered as a whole organism, seeking to be self-sustaining. The farmers do not just consider the product to be important. Rather, they think that if you take care of the earth and listen to mother nature on the way, then you have a good product. The most famed biodynamic method of creating feed for the soil is bizarre. It involves taking the horns of a cow and stuffing them with cow manure. They are then placed in the ground for six months over winter. The idea being that the cosmic forces in the soil transfer the manure into a unbelievably fertile ‘humus’ called 500. Cuckoo huh?
I have spent time on two biodynamic farms: one luxurious and one rustic. Both were wonderful. The fruit and vegetables taste fantastic and you somehow feel responsible for making sure they are handled well and given a fair treatment in the kitchen. Increasingly the process of everything becomes more and more important. Everything has the potential to be used as compost. Waste is practically non-existent. It is also brilliant being surrounded by farmers who are essenitally academics. They are so dedicated to this approach, so learned, that they are brilliant conversationalists. Farming wizards, not dissimilar to Gandalf with a rake. For instance one farmer handed me a walnut and asked me what it looked like when cut open. A brain of course! No wonder eating it is so nouishing for our minds. Likewise, how amazing is the land that gives us the gift of a huge, juicy, watermelon in the heat of summer.
Only when you leave do you slightly ponder the absurbity of it all. Still, I am happy to divulge in the magic wisdom of biodynamics. Particulary if the food, as a result, is so delicious.
What are we cooking for Christmas?