Mark Zinniker showing "the beauty" of hard work in composting, manure collection and biodynamic preparations.

Pictured on top are dandelions, that were harvested during a spring preparation event. They are a building block to one of the main biodynamic preparations.

Biodynamics is a fascinating and complex field of study. If you would like more information, you can find it via these resources:

Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association

Josephine Porter Institut for Applied Biodynamics, Inc.

Andrew Lorand’s intro to Biodynamics

ATTRA’s guide to biodynamics

Alan York about biodynamics in viticulture

Book: Wistinghausen, Scheibe, Heilmann, Wistinghausen and Koenig: The Biodynamic Spray and Compost Preparations. Direction for use.
ISBN 0-9518976-2-4

Biodynamic Agriculture is an extremely effective and environmentally supportive system of farming that the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association describes as “a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, food production, and nutrition.”

Biodynamic farming practices were first introduced by Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. The use of chemicals and other industrial farming methods were rising in popularity during that time, and a group of concerned farmers turned to Steiner for advice. He presented them with this holistic and sustainable view of agriculture in a series of lectures in 1924. Steiner’s work is even more valuable today than it was nearly a century ago, given the dominance of factory farming and the depleted, often poisoned soil that results from it.

Steiner described the farm as an organism that man needs to properly care for and direct. The plants feed the animals, and the animals feed the plants.

Such a farm organism encompasses not only the fields, crops, and livestock for production, but also hedgerows, tree-lines, woods, water (creeks, ponds, waterways, wetland areas), wildlife, and the climate the farm organism is located in. Each one of these components or “organs” depends on the others to be healthy in order to reach its own full potential. The farmer’s role is to set direction, harmonize, and keep balance.

Compost is the main fertilizer used to create healthy soils that produce healthy food for animals and people and maintain a healthy environment. Livestock play a critical role in soil fertility—the number and types of livestock on the farm need to correlate carefully with the acreage available in order to keep balance.

Steiner also devised several different preparations for use in farming, to support and rebuild the subtle energies involved in Nature’s living processes.

These preparations are made out of specific mineral, plant and animal materials and follow a unique process, individual to each preparation. Two of the preparations are applied as field sprays. Others are used in the compost and put directly into the pile in a very minute amount, acting as a “starter” that accelerates the decomposition of waste into usable soil. (In the Fall and Spring each year, we invite the community to gather on Zinniker Farm for Prep Days—hands-on participation in the biodynamic preparation process.)

Steiner also gave indications to work with the cycles of the sun, moon and other planets for soil cultivation, planting, harvesting and pest control (called “ashing or “peppering”).

We owe the success in today’s culture of the modern CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to the ideas brought forth by Rudolph Steiner. It was he who detailed, way before it was an issue, that people and communities would need to make a conscious choice to support farmers as a means of providing health to the food system in the age of industrialization applied to agriculture.