Biodynamics is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, food production and nutrition. Today, the biodynamic movement encompasses thousands of successful gardens, farms, vineyards and agricultural operations of all kinds and sizes on all continents, in a wide variety of ecological and economic settings. Byodinamics was developed in central Europe in the early 1920s by Rudolf Steiner, PhD and it is now practiced on more than 350,000 acres of farmland in 47 countries. Steiner was one of the pioneers of the organic farming movement, considered by many to be the most advanced and holistic form of organic farming and gardening on the planet. Steiner’s insights have also led to innovative movements in a number of other fields such as education (Waldorf Schools), medicine, finance and social therapy.
Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being raised. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.
Most biodynamic initiatives seek to embody triple bottom line approaches (ecological, social and economic sustainability), taking inspiration from Steiner’s insights into social and economic life as well as agriculture. Community supported agriculture (CSA), for example, was pioneered by biodynamic farmers, and many biodynamic practitioners work in creative partnerships with other farms and with schools, medical and wellness facilities, restaurants, hotels, homes for social therapy and other organizations. Biodynamics is thus not just a holistic agricultural system but also a potent movement for new thinking and practices in all aspects of life connected to food and agriculture.
Rudolf Steiner developed biodynamics in partnership with a group of farmers who were concerned with the decline in soil and animal health that they were witnessing on their farms. This was just at the time when a highly mechanistic view of nature was beginning to take hold in agriculture, which led to the development and use of synthetically produced nitrogen fertilizers. Steiner was one of the first public figures to warn that the widespread use of chemical fertilizers would lead to the decline of soil, plant and animal health and the subsequent devitalization of food.
Biodynamics is based on a view of nature as a living, self-sustaining organism that unites material, biological and spiritual elements. A unique aspect of biodynamic agriculture is the attention paid to the influences and rhythms of the sun, moon and planets. Biodynamics is ultimately not just a set of alternative agricultural methods but a new way of seeing and understanding the natural world. Steiner called for and pioneered a new form of science—which he called spiritual science—that could grapple with both the material and nonmaterial or spiritual aspects of reality. Biodynamic farmers work to develop their capacity to sense and observe the more subtle forces at work in nature, and to use their own insights to further enhance the vitality of their farms. The biodynamic methods are thus in a continuous state of evolution and individualization.