In May last year I posted an article, Back To The Garden To Feed The World, in which I explained how the cultivation of small gardens would be sufficient to provide enough fresh food to feed everyone. If we understand the principles in biodynamic gardening, the concept that multitudes of small gardens can feed the world is not an impossible idea. Russia is successfully doing it. Our current agriculture practices are the result of a materialistic philosophy which has rendered poor, toxic soils suffocating under tons of chemicals and pesticides, and produced chemical laden, non-nutritious, dead food. Biodynamic gardening is agriculture with a spiritual connection. The world was first introduced to this concept in 1924 when Rudolph Steiner began his lectures on biodynamic agriculture in response to concerned farmers. Perhaps now that spirituality is finding a place in the mainstream, the time has finally come for us to embrace Steiner’s greatest gift to humanity.
The concerns of farmers in 1924 included plant diseases, poor seed vitality, livestock breeding and disease problems and reduced viability of forage crops. Steiner pointed to the dead mineral fertilizers being used in their farming practices. In his lectures, he went so far as to suggest that humanity was incapable of progressing spiritually without food that carried the essential life force nourishment. Steiner recognized 90 years ago that the needed restoration of a healthy planet would mean restoring the forces in nature by means of the natural world. Steiner’s biodynamic preparations are a combination of nine specific herbs which are alchemically enhanced by their time in the ground and stirring techniques. Anyone who has ever worked with these preps will tell you how they heal the earth, allow for immensely abundant yields and sustainable farming.
Many people ask what the difference is between organic and biodynamic gardening. While small scale organic farming is truly viable, biodynamic gardening embraces a larger cosmic picture in which the planets, elementals and ourselves as spiritual beings all play a part. In fact, ultimately the correct use of the biodynamic preps can serve to stimulate specific cosmic energies that otherwise stay dormant under the influences of traditional and chemical agriculture. While these nine biodynamic preps are exclusive to biodynamic gardening, this remarkable agriculture also sees the Earth as a living organism, approaches land and farms as individual systems within the perspective of the entire cosmos, thus taking the planetary movements into deep consideration. From my own personal perspective, I would say biodynamic gardening embraces a deeper understandings about how everything in nature is working separately yet influencing the whole. While the birds are busy flying about, they are also sending messages to growing plants. Elementals and diva spirits are also acknowledged in biodynamic agriculture as playing very significant roles. Even the rain brings messages. Biodynamic farmers and gardeners approach the land with eyes wider open, and embody a spiritual connection to the entire planting and growing process.
If you have a plot of land with poor, damaged soil, the biodynamic preparations are your answer to heal the soil. Trust me when I say it is an amazing, unique journey to work with these preps, but by the time you are done, you will have restored soil and an elevated soul. If you are a home gardener, you can also work with these preps. Here in Florida I made some raised beds, then added some of the prep material and, unlike last year when I did not use the biodynamic preps, I am seeing far better health and yields. I am getting super yields of sunflower sprouts….
and happy chard and kale. My spinach was just getting going when an unlikely winter heat wave appeared, and the 86 degrees brought the spinach to a halt. I hope it comes back. Meanwhile, I am eating big, juicy avocados every day straight from the tree. I time the picking of them just right so I will always have one ripe and ready to savor.
While organic farming and gardening is far preferable to current, toxic agricultural practices, biodynamic farming and gardening, I believe, can take us to yet a whole new level wherein putting an end to world hunger can be easily done. Our Earth is sacred. When she feels us using her wisdom to help her heal, and we take our roles as stewards of the land seriously, we can produce abundant, nourishing food to sustain us in a more meaningful way. I do not know about you, but I hate paying for dead food that I can grow. Once you taste, and keep tasting the mannose (what I call the cosmic sugar), you will never want to go back to dead food.
It appears the United Nations is waking up. The U.N. Commission on Trade and Development have released a report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before It Is Too Late, fueled by their realization that “Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems.” This is very good news, and we can only hope the weight of this report will in fact translate into real agriculture transformation on many levels as soon as possible. You can read the article below which includes the link for the report.
UN Report Says Small-Scale Organic Farming Only Way to
Feed the World
Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late, included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world (including a commentary from IATP). The report includes in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.
The report links global security and escalating conflicts with the urgent need to transform agriculture toward what it calls “ecological intensification.” The report concludes, “This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”
The UNCTAD report identified key indicators for the transformation needed in agriculture:
- Increasing soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production, and increased incorporation of agroforestry and wild vegetation
- Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of livestock production
- Reduction of GHGs through sustainable peatland, forest and grassland management
- Optimization of organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture
- Reduction of waste throughout the food chains
- Changing dietary patterns toward climate-friendly food consumption
- Reform of the international trade regime for food and agriculture
IATP’s contribution focused on the effects of trade liberalization on agriculture systems. We argued that trade liberalization both at the WTO and in regional deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had increased volatility and corporate concentration in agriculture markets, while undermining the development of locally-based, agroecological systems that better support farmers.
The report’s findings are in stark contrast to the accelerated push for new free trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which expand a long discredited model of economic development designed primarily to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy. Neither global climate talks nor other global food security forums reflect the urgency expressed in the UNCTAD report to transform agriculture.
In 2007, another important report out of the multilateral system, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), with contributions from experts from over 100 countries (and endorsed by nearly 60 countries), came to very similar conclusions. The IAASTD report concluded that “Business as Usual is Not an Option,” and the shift toward agroecological approaches was urgent and necessary for food security and climate resilience. Unfortunately, business as usual has largely continued. Maybe this new UNCTAD report will provide the tipping point for the policy transformation that must take place “before it’s too late.”