Tag Archives: organic farming

Biodynamics

Rooster and hens

We believe  we all owe gratitude to the Earth and should act as earth stewards, regardless if we are landowners or apartment dwellers. Indigenous folk and agrarian societies understood the importance of a ‘right relationship’ to the living earth. We would do well to remember their words.
Modern industrialized society has over harvested the gifts and resources of the earth without prudently providing for conditions of renewal. We are currently experiencing conditions of great imbalance.
Rudolf Steiner introduced Biodynamic Agriculture already in the early twentieth century to heal and enliven the being of the Earth herself. Biodynamic practices are a key to restoring and balancing Her system of functions.  Human beings must reestablish a conscious relationship to the earth so life can continue to unfold in harmony with the wisdom in nature.

Biodynamic Practices

Biodynamic agriculture is a specific form of organic agriculture which, as defined by the Demeter ecological association, views the farm as “a self-contained, self-sustaining ecosystem responsible for creating and maintaining its individual health and vitality without any external or unnatural additions. […] Soil, plants, animals and humans together create this image of a holistic living organism.”

The use of resilient crops and natural predators negate the need for external inputs, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Biodynamic agriculture means closed nutrient cycles, in which we raise our own livestock  to produce compost, grow cereals to feed the livestock, and uses crop rotation to enhance soil fertility.

Cycles of the moon as well as the other planets play an important role in the practices of biodynamic agriculture. Biodynamic practices improve the vitality or life force, as well as the taste of food. For this reason biodynamic methods are increasingly utilized for growing wine grapes throughout the world.  Biodynamic practices are also solidly based on time-tested farming practices.
There is no magic to biodynamic agriculture that enables us to skip any steps in proper soil, water, and land conservation management. Good farming practices begin with providing the soil with what it needs to thrive and thereby create the right conditions for food crops with high nutritional value.

Healthy soils with a high content of solid organic matter increase the water holding capacity, decrease water consumption, and inhibit erosion. Compared to business-as-usual agricultural production, biodynamic agriculture’s increased energy efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and increased soil carbon sequestration, make it a superb tool to mitigate climate change. Resilient crops, crop rotation, and diversification methods such as agro-forestry, mean that the risk of crop failure is minimized. Intercropping and the absence of chemical inputs increase biodiversity. Moreover, lower expenditure on external inputs makes financial resources available to cover the costs of higher employment, thus promoting rural livelihoods. Biodynamic agricultural methods are also healthier as they don’t expose farmers, animals, soil, air, or surface water to hazardous chemicals.

First we serve the soil, then, the soil will serve us by providing us with food that nourishes not only our physical bodies, by also stimulates the forces of life within us that penetrate the physical body and creates life, health and harmony.
Healing and Balance are key principles that stand behind our work in the field, with the animals, in the apiary, and in the garden.

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodynamics, Farming Practices, Sustainable living

Pound Your Plowshares into Scythes

I’ve been delving into the world of permaculture. I’m fascinated by the concept – it just “makes sense”, and am looking forward to learning as much as I can about it. Working *with* nature just seems so much more sensible. Look around – read the works of Victor Shauberger, and consider bio-mimickry. The world around, above and beneath us is replete with stunning examples of architecture, symbiosis, and energy.

Scythe

Peter was thinking of all this when he got me what has to be one of the best birthday presents ever. A scythe.Yes, you read that correctly. A scythe. My mother was, shall we say…puzzled at my obvious delight. But mom! It’s a real, honest to goodness, Austrian-bladed, have to be fitted for scythe. Wayyyy cool. I was fitted for it this weekend (yes, you have to be measured for the proper size scythe) at the NOFA NH winter conference by one of the owners of the scythe supply company, “Scythe Supply”.

Now, mind you, I’ve had scythes before. The kind you get at, say, Agway, or Aubuchon. The kind with a big, clunky steel blade and the unisize handle. I had no idea there was any other option available, and must admit I was terribly disappointed in my rather futile efforts to mow any grass, much less a swath of hay ,with that heavy, unwieldy club of a tool. This new scythe is waay different. LIke, the difference between driving your fathers 1985 Oldsmobile or BUick, and driving a Porsche. Like, wow man.

For starters, as they say in their website, the scythes they sell are ” Light, sharp and effective” It will mow, clear and harvest with ease—while you stand comfortably upright.” OK, I know you are saying ” but why on earth do you want to go through all that sweaty work cutting HAY (and probably lots of it) while you walk in a huge field with a little knife at the end of a handle?” Instead of, say, a tractor with a mower bar, a tedder, a baler and a truck with a hay wagon? Well, remember I mentioned permaculture at the beginning? One of the basic tenets of permaculture is to reduce, and preferably never use fossil fuel. That, I think, is very admirable, and worth looking into. Another concept of permaculture is to tread lightly on the earth. And those big, oil snarfing, exhaust spewing machines that repeatedly compact the soil pollute the air and use up natural resources are not exactly what comes to mind  when I think of harmony with nature.

 

Check out this video: 

So, yes, I’m probably nuts. But I am very very excited to try it out this spring. If we ever actually see grass growing (as I write this we are about to get another 5″ or so of snow. Blechhh.)  I’ll let Elliot Fishbein, owner of Scythe Supply, sum it up, this is quoted from his website, which I encourage you to peruse. It’s fabulous. “

Why use a scythe?
It’s simply satisfying and fun.
Here’s what appeals to me:

  • This tool does such a good job it makes me smile.
  • The scythe is powered by my own internal combustion. This renewable personal resource produces no fumes (OK, I admit to occasional fumes) or noise and requires no complex machinery.
  • It starts and stops when I want it to. It amplifies my strength but is not more powerful than me.
  • An opportunity to momentarily escape from the modern world.
  • The choice of NOT cutting a flower in the grass. The stroke is infinitely adjustable and sensitive to changing terrain and conditions.
  • Appreciation of the beauty and diversity of tall grass. Allow the grass and wildflowers to bloom and be amazed at the variety coming from that boring homogenous lawn.
  • The rhythmic cutting motion does not have to be stressful. Its patterns can be dance-like and relaxing. There is therapy in this kind of mindful exercise. You are both entertained and rewarded by this labor. This is kinetic meditation.
  • Demonstrating a commitment to environmental responsibility.

That’s a lot from a simple tool.”

Leave a comment

Filed under permaculture, Sustainable living