As Coach helped us set up the farm last week, he asked us if we had run into biodynamic agriculture. The term sounded familiar, but we did not know the specific practices and science involved. The only run-in we have had with biodynamics is through wine that we bought while running Rupperts as many French vineyards and several in Virginia have developed these practices.
Biodynamics was developed by Rudolph Steiner who founded Waldorf Schools and promoted thinking about farms as whole organisms. In approaching agriculture in this way, he and his supporters developed a series of practices that go beyond organic gardening to improve the farm as a dynamic system of various objects working together to create a whole and productive environment. Key to introducing biodynamics to a farm are the soil preparations that Coach brought to us from his friend in Prospect, Kentucky.
Coach provided information on several practices that have helped us think about how to approach our farm as a whole organism that we can help grow and prosper.
One key soil preparation Coach gave us was horn manure.To make the mixture female cow dung is packed into horns and buried in a trench for nine months. Male manure is not used because it is not as potent as female manure, hence the term Bull-____ as it refers to less potent and less impressive manure. For more information and video on how it is made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiMMoqngdt0. The use of the manure on the farm increases microorganisms in the soil and helps plants access nutrients.
Vortex and Chaos
To prepare the horn manure solution, we dumped a small bag of the Kentucky gold into a bucket of water that we had let sit over night.
The horn manure requires an hour of stirring the horn manure solution with our arms. We took turns creating an energy vortex (aka whirpool). The stirring creates an order that Coach taught us to disrupt by moving the opposite arm in the opposite direction. This disruption causes necessary chaos that allows the flow to be disrupted to awaken the organisms in the manure water. The process forced us to become elbow deep in the manure and differed greatly from pouring compost out of a bag.
Days before Coach arrived he insisted we bring whisk brooms. Having not used them recently, I brought the large brooms at the the local hardware store. Sidra had to go back to the store to buy new ones that we each used to spread the manure solution over the farm. After an hour of stirring, we walked the half-acre farm with buckets of the solution while using the brooms to scatter droplets over the entire property. The act of walking the farm and spreading droplets made me think of the garden as a whole and how our attention and time can help improve the soil and the farm.