While both organic and biodynamic systems believe that healthy soil is the foundation for healthy plant life, there are some other key differences.
In conventional chemical and organic agriculture farmers tend to think about individuated substances or chemical requirements for the soil which are often imported from outside the farm. A conventional farmer would deal with nitrogen needs by applying ammonia or urea to the soil and the organic farmer would introduce manure. In biodynamic agriculture the farmer corrects imbalances in the soil by altering different elements already existing on the farm, such as planting more legumes to help fix nitrogen problems in the soil, adjusting timing of compost applications, or encouraging growth of grasses to increase soil fertility.
BD farmers believe that using these methods adds vitality and energy to the farm as opposed to conventional and organic farmers’ use of additives, which, even if they are organic in nature, can lead to deterioration and weakness in the soil over time.
Today biodynamic communities exist in more than 40 countries around the world. One example is the 400-acre Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, N.Y. It includes a working farm, farm store, a CSA which also sells at greenmarket stands in New York City, a Waldorf school (teaching a holistic curriculum based on Steiner’s research), a teacher training institute, and a biodynamic farm training program as well as other programs of social thought based around Steiner’s philosophy.
Steffen Schneider, the director of Hawthorne Valley Farm sums up Rudolf Steiner’s teachings and the relevance of biodynamic farming today: “I have not come across another system that makes sense in the total context (of the world) beside Steiner. He creates the highest possibility for the planet and for humans.”
Schneider believes that most of us don’t have a developed enough palate to detect the differences in the quality of the food we eat. “The more we can practice conscious eating,” he says, “the more likely we may be able to taste the differences.”
To your health!