Pictured Above: Ira Haspel discusses the health of the bays and environs with Meg Dowe at the 2023 Dandelion Festival at KK’s Farm

by Ira Haspel & Sonomi Obinata

Biodynamic Agriculture originated a century ago out of the spiritual scientific research of Austrian seer and philosopher Dr. Rudolph Steiner. It’s a method of farming which increases soil fertility using natural materials – compost, herbs and processed manure. 

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of Steiner’s eight lectures known as “The Agriculture Course,” given from June 7 to 16, 1924 in Koberwitrz, Silesia (now part of Poland).  

In these lectures, Steiner, who is also the founder of Waldorf Education, Anthroposophical Medicine and other such things, gave instructions for the development of what would later be called Biodynamic Agriculture.  

On KK’s Farm in Southold this year, we’re celebrating the centennial of the principles that guide our work.

Before giving his lectures, a number of farmers in the agricultural community in Germany came to Steiner, telling of the decrease in their soil fertility, increase in animal diseases, and seed strains and cultivated plants that suffered from diseased conditions in the soil after the spreading of Petro-chemical synthetic fertilizers after the end of World War I. 

In 1923, Steiner described how to make biodynamic preparations — natural remedies for the soil — and his followers prepared the first preparation using manure aged over the winter in a cow horn underground, known as BD500.

Steiner, who had studied the German philosopher Goethe’s way of understanding nature, encouraged farmers to make the preparations “available to the largest possible area over the entire Earth so that the Earth may be healed and the nutritive quality of its produce improved in every aspect”

Over the course of his life, he gave 6,000 lectures and wrote 300 books. When asked by one of his students, E.E.Pfeiffer, why his teachings and the spiritual impulse of his work was so often overlooked, Steiner’s response was “This is problem of nutrition. Nutrition as it is today does not supply the strength necessary for manifesting the spirit in physical life. A bridge can no longer be built from thinking to will and action. Food plants no longer contain the forces people need for this.”2  

He added that the nutritional problem, “if solved, would enable the spirit to become manifest and realize itself in human beings…The good effects of the preparations and of the whole method itself were for everybody, for all farmers.”4

Herbalist Sarah Shephard (l) and Sonomi Obinata of KK's Farm (r) share the benefits of dandelions at the 2023 Dandelion Festival
Herbalist Sarah Shephard (l) and Sonomi Obinata of KK’s Farm (r) share the benefits of dandelions at the 2023 Dandelion Festival

Some of what differentiates Biodynamics (Bio = life; dynamics = forces) from conventional (chemical) farming or organic farming is our attention to the subtle (and not so subtle) forces of earthly nature and cosmic influences (sun, moon, planets and the rest of the cosmos). It’s also the observation of what is actually happening out in the fields (soil, plants, environment) and recognition that there are forces influencing us that we cannot sense.

Biodynamic practice includes reanimating of the environment, by humans, through rhythmically organizing natural forces to make the soil and plants sensitive to positive cosmic forces.

Some people may say that if “If we cannot see it, we don’t believe it” – but how do they feel about gravity, which controls their lives 24/7, or oxygen or nitrogen, or electromagnetic energy or love.

A Biodynamic farmer “acquires and applies a kind of judgement in dealing with biological – i.e. living – processes. It’s different from the role of a more materialistic conventional chemical farmer. The Biodynamic farmer follows nature’s dynamic play of forces with a greater degree of interest and awareness,” a creative participation beyond a mere application of method. 

Steiner pointed out how the health of soil, plants and animals depends upon bringing  nature into connection again with the cosmic creative, shaping and formative forces, which in nature and modern agriculture were on the wane.

Originally intended to remediate the soil, biodynamics is a great way to maintain soil fertility for generations in the same place. So, as we celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the “Agriculture Course” on KK’s Farm we practice the main components of biodynamics, including the spiritual aspect. The Biodynamic method includes:

  1. The Biodynamic Calendar – Cosmic influences vary hour by hour. Different times are better for working with root crops, leaf crops, fruits and flowers. Working on these right times enhances the vitality of those crops, which leads to increased nutrition and taste.
  2. Amendments or Preps are very homeopathic. One handful of finished preparation in 3 gallons of water can treat one acre. These include BD#500 -cow horn manure, BD#501— Silica, BD#502 – Yarrow, BD#503 – Chamomile, BD#504 – Nettle, BD#505 – Oak Bark, BD#506 – Dandelion, BD#507 Valerian, BD#508 – Equisetum Avernese (Horsetail).
  3. The work to increase soil health, balance and fertility increases humus and increases microbial life. It makes a good environment for the microbes. They break down organic matter into a form of nutrients that the plants take up.
  4. Making Compost – applying to all remade beds in quantities dependent on the crop grown in the bed. 

We also use other good farming practices: Companion planting, crop rotation, no-plow farming, tree paste, ashing, conservation of water, mulching, dowsing, creation of humus in the beds, incorporation of earthworms and preservation of soil.

KK’s The Farm invites the community to learn more about biodynamic agriculture, and about the local community working to heal the soil, the plants and the human community nurtured by the plants at the annual Dandelion Festival on April 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the farm in Southold.

Happy 100th Anniversary – “so the Earth may be healed”.

Ira Haspel
Sonomi Obinata
KK’s Farm

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