The members of the Sanandi team are one of a kind. When you ask how their day is, you will get a story about a beautiful new flower in bloom or a new thought about health they have discovered. There is no teaching moment that the team doesn’t take, and it brings us together in this motley way.
We are all individuals dedicated to education. Whether that’s sharing what we know on our blog (why, hello), giving a tour of the farm, speaking at conferences, helping build the educational aspects of the Foundation, or taking what we learn from each other back to our friends and family, every single one of us is a natural educator.
And one thing we’ve learned is that every good educator tips their hat to their own teachers—out of respect and because information has to come from somewhere, we always want to know how to follow the paper trail and we know that you do too.
So here I’ll go ahead and say it. Dr. Rudolf Steiner.
This man was a mixture of the worlds of science and philosophy. He had the greatest respect for the natural processes and understood that we are born of chaos—that the magic found in the turbulence of the world and the science behind creation and evolution are not mutually exclusive.
From his teachings and the community he founded, we have grown into being. From the health promotion of salutogenesis to anthroposophic medicine, we’re grateful for integrated system of thought. And we have another one to share: Biodynamic farming.
Of all of Steiner’s teachings, this is the one that is most known, the one with the largest impact on our health and the health of our planet coinciding, sharing the one-ness that exists in everything around us.
What is Biodynamic Farming?
These days when we imagine farms, our minds are too easily drawn to the flat lands in Montana with the giant machines spraying wheat and and corn with questionable chemicals that allow one (maybe two) years of growth before the nutrients are gone from the soil and the crops are nutritionally lacking. What if we told you there was a different way—a long term solution.
Biodynamic farming is a holistic, ecological, and ethical farming structure that is both scalable and sustainable.
I’ll give you a moment to read that sentence again.
The Principles of Biodynamic Farming
Biodynamic farming focuses is on biodiversity and the living ecosystem, the farms are a single, living entity rather than separate fields and separate crops.
The plants, animals, and the soil are intentionally coexisting to mimic the interdependency of the natural world. The fields and forests feed into each other—some places it’s hard to tell what’s farmland and what is the natural state. All of the land is seen and every part of the ecosystem is respected.
Livestock, even just starting with earthworms and honeybees, are part of the diverse culture of the biodynamic community along with a plethora of native plants, annual and perennial vegetables, herbs, and flowers all co-mingling to create an environment that can sustain itself.
Because they envision the soil as part of the living organism that is the fam, biodynamic farms strive to generate their own fertility using animals, cover cropping, crop rotation, and composting.
Focusing on on-farm fertility allows a farm to be completely self-sustaining so that fertilizer does not need to be brought in and chemical or hydroponic systems are unnecessary. As a farm grows, the diversifying livestock plays a huge role in fertility because of the different types of manure available—composting internally and using manure adds nutrients back into the soil.
The biodynamic farmer uses special preparations of transformed plant matter to enliven the soil further. These preparations strengthen the quality of the soil by helping to fix the nitrogen and other nutrients along with adding a sensitivity to the compost that attunes the soil to the whole farm organism.
The Compost Preparations
There are six biodynamic preparations made from six gentle yet powerful healing plants. Yarrow flowers, chamomile blossoms, stinging nettle while in flower, oak bark, dandelion flower, and valerian flower.
Each plant has its own special type of preparation, and all of them hold a specific connection to the sun and the larger zodiac. Some of them are processed with animal organs, most others are buried for a period of time, and all but one (the valerian flower, a liquid) end up appearing to be a rich compost.
A small (and very specific) amount of each preparation is added to the compost and the remainder of the liquid valerian is sprayed over top.
This is a high potency homeopathic remedy for the connectivity of the soil and the farm. Along with helping to create a cohesive whole, it helps to create an excellent humus structure within the finished compost that is sensitive to the rhythmic cycles of the cosmic forces that play on our Earth—especially the moon and the planets.
This application is added to the soil when the compost is first created and again when it is turned.
In addition to a living soil preparation, the biodynamic farm uses a series of sprays made from things like cow horn and manure, silica, and horsetail tea. All of which also have their own very specific and planetarily attuned processes of creation.
Together with the on-farm composting and fertility, these preparations and sprays help plants to have access to a full spectrum of nutrients, be resilient to pests and diseases, and stay healthy and balanced even during months with extreme climates.
Every farmer knows their land, it’s an intimate part of their survival. When it comes to biodynamic farming, knowing (noticing) the land is key. Farmers set aside time just to walk through the farm, not just to work hands on with the plants.
Taking time to notice the subtle changes on the farm strengthens the ability to work creatively with the earth’s rhythms and feel the vibrancy of the energy of the ecosystem around. Every plant is unique and part of the whole, the biodynamic farmer feels both.
Biodynamic farmers work to plant seeds that come from other organic and biodynamic systems, they favor heirloom seeds that have been cultivated by generations of farmers to hold the integrity of the plants.
They never use GMO seeds.
Overtime, the biodynamic farm seeks to use their own seeds so that locally adapted crops can sprout their own uniquely evolved individuality.
Farmers use the earth’s rhythm in our solar system to understand the subtle ways that these energies play on sowing, planting, cultivating, harvesting, and working with the preparations.
Everything from the seasonal changes to the moon cycle to where the different planets can be found in conjunction with the farm are taken into consideration for the type of work that needs to be done.
If the farm works towards creating medicinal products through any type of alchemy, like Sanandi, those same principles apply to working with the medicinal preparations as well.
In addition to respect for the Earth, soil, plants, and various solar system allies, biodynamic farming holds a respect for the animals on the farm as well as any disease or pest that moves in.
The animals that live on the farm are fed appropriately for their optimal health. Baby creatures, like calves and lambs, are fed by their own herds—never with a milk replacement—and all the animals are given plenty of space to move around and graze freely.
Biodynamics focuses completely on creating optimal living conditions for all walks of life so pests and diseases don’t thrive well on the farm. When they do show up, they are seen as part of a living ecosystem and Earth’s way of correcting an imbalance so while the biodynamic farmer will use a biological control, but he or she will actually focus on solving the deeper issue to help restore the farm to complete health.
7—Social and Economic Health
Biodynamic farming is focused on meeting the real needs of humans and the planet. This is much more than simply growing food and many farms, like Sanandi, find a way to give back with a structure of community supported agriculture. That means you’ll see biodynamic farms partnering with other farms, schools, medical facilities, restaurants, hotels, therapeutic homes and practices, along with other organizations to give back and spread the word about the movement of being biodynamic.
And here’s the point: the future.
Biodynamics is sustainability at its utmost.
So that we can continue to thrive as a species. So that our ecosystem stays healthy. So that we can feel the interconnectedness with our planet and the larger solar system around us.
The Demeter Certification
We know that’s a lot of information to take in. The intricacies of biodynamic farming are never ending—believe me when I say it goes so much deeper. But we think it’s important, really important, to support biodynamic farming.
Because, as consumers, we speak loudest with our dollars. If you’re like us, you’re reading labels of your products, you’re choosing to support the organic, the cleanest products with the best reputation for interconnectivity and alignment with the rhythms of nature.
For products you use consistently, you’re reading their blogs, calling their customer support with questions, and taking an active stance on the ingredients you see in their products. And thank you for that.
Because now, when you’re looking at products, you can look for the Demeter Certification too. When you see the word “Demeter” you can be sure that this product came from the purest and most intentional place imaginable. That product is incredibly sourced, manufactured safely, and resonates deeply with the planet.
Like most certifications, Demeter is timely and expensive and shows an ultimate commitment to this type of farming for many years. Sanandi is working actively at becoming Demeter Certified—stay tuned for that announcement.
Would you like to know more about biodynamic farming? Let us know in the comments below!