Most people have a general idea of what it means to practice organic farming, but here at Love Apple Farms we often field questions related to another agricultural practice: biodynamic farming. Created by the philosopher and educator Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics can seem intimidating at first, but with a few basic concepts under your belt it's easy to understand why we choose to farm not just organically, but biodynamically as well. To this end, we've recently started holding scheduled meetings with farm staff and apprentices to continue our education in biodynamic farming.
We began with a good working definition: biodynamic farming is a regenerative farming system focused on soil health and the integration of plants and animals (the key difference between a certified organic and a certified biodynamic farm is that the latter must have animals). As a farmer, the principle biodynamic tenets you must adhere to are as follows: you should make your own compost (with the manure from your animals), use the biodynamic homeopathic soil and compost preps, follow the biodynamic planting calendar (a new one is released each year), and save your own seeds. The goal for a biodynamic farm is to become a “closed-loop farm organism,” and each of these tenets helps you move closer to achieving this. (For example, ideally you will feed your animals with food you have grown, and in turn their manure will provide natural fertilizer for your crops.)
Making compost is a key component of biodynamics, and it means that nothing on the farm is wasted—food scraps, animal manure, and even paper products all contribute to healthy compost piles. The homeopathic soil preps are applied to your compost and soil, and as laid out by Steiner, maximize farm fertility (an example is a cow horn stuffed with fresh manure and buried in the ground for six months, after which it is dug up, mixed with water, and sprinkled on the soil). The biodynamic planting calendar uses the phases of the moon to predict when it is best to plant and harvest each of your four plant types: fruit, root, leaf, or flower. Finally, saving your own seeds enables your farm to function as an entirely closed loop and encourages crop adaptation to microclimates.
Here at Love Apple we follow the biodynamic tenets as closely as we can, for although farming biodynamically can be challenging, it is immensely rewarding and leads to optimum soil health. For more information on biodynamics please see our recommended reading list, and you can access Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on the subject here.