Biodynamic Farming Workshop

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I've attended the "Organic Biodynamic Farming & Gardening"two day workshop at Nosara Retreat, Costa Rica. See the course description here.

So much inspiration & information! This kind of set of knowledge is becoming to be more and more important in this devastating world.... it seems like we completely forgot to take care of the mother earth, and just buy-buy-buy cheap toxic food, when we have abundance land & appropriate information! Totally insane... we just got to Learn, Act, Observe, and Trust.

So what is Biodynamics? Start here, then below is a rough report of the workshop.

June 15th / Day 1 - introductory lecture Biodynamic farming, is an advanced organic agriculture technique based on principles articulated by Rudolf Steiner. The day of the workshop was exactly the day Rudolf Steiner gave a week long Biodynamic lecture to European farmers in 1924 based on his philosophy called "Anthroposophy".
That's 90 years ago. Since then, the practice and beliefs have spread all over the world and now there is a Biodynamic Association (full of info on their nice website) and a certifying organization called Demeter (which seems to be an active trustworthy organization - they don't certify products, but certifies the WHOLE farm all together).

Biodynamic can be described as "Spiritual farming/gardening" or "what makes organic farming/gardening work." It's all about "working with hidden energy of nature."

This video is taken on the 2nd day of the workshop, but let me introduce our wonderful enthusiastic Costa Rican teacher, Esteban.

some notes; --------------------------- ●Bioydnamic is not just thinking about practical organic farming practices (collecting manure & making compost), but also putting into consideration the hidden things like "emotions of the plants" or "the cosmic cycle" that is invisible, yet alive. We need to cultivate the "sense of smell" of the hidden quality of things.

●Biodynamics is serving the land to make it rich and alive. It's about making the soil "vital." It's not a farming method to produce FOOD as such, it concentrates more on MAKING NATURE THRIVE. In Biodynamics, soil is everything.

●Biodynamics put emphasis on changing social connection. It's not just growing organic. It's a new paradigm of attitude, emotions, relationship with nature and the society. ---------------------------

Taking into consideration all natural living energies, cosmic and terrestrial influences, biodynamics practices builds the farm's organism. There are two important energy aspects. One is the cosmic energy, and the other is the terrestrial energy. They all work together to cultivate vital soil (humus).

First of all, the moon cycle. From new moon (luna nueva) to full moon (luna llena) is the time for growing - which means that the energy goes up to the cosmic. From full moon to new moon, is the time for grounding - which means that the energy goes down to the earth.

If we understand this and pay close attention, we know when to work accordingly. For instance, from the new moon to full moon, it's a good time for harvesting and grafting because the energy is going upwards (but differs to the plants, because rooted vegetables like potatoes are better in the opposite times). From full moon to new moon, it's a good time for transplanting, pruning, or chopping wood, because the energy is going more to the roots.

Then there is the sun component. According to where the sun is located, there are times during the month that you should not work at all because the power of the universe is not in favor.

These are all described in the biodynamic calendar that comes out every year.... but during the workshop due to time restraints, we only touched the surface of this part.

It's mystical how the cosmic energy effects the plants, but when we think about it, feel it, it all makes sense. Understanding the dynamics of the universe is the first step to biodynamic.

Then comes the terrestrial energy. In Biodynamic farming, they have a special treatment called preparation numbering from 500 to 508. These are special homeopathic remedies to promote soil fertility and health.

1. horn manure (500).... manure put inside a female cow horn (living source of digestion), then buried during October/Nov, then harvest March (6 months). Stimulates soil life, so apply it during summer time. Requires 1 female horn manure for 1 hector (x 4 times).

2. quartz (501).... grounded crystal power or any kind of mineral. Needs only 2g per hector. Leave the powder in the sun and then spray. Gives light force to the soil and increases photosynthesis. Good to apply during winter time.

3. Yarrow (502), Chamomile (503), Nettle (504), Oak Bark (505), Dandelion (506), Valerian(507), Horsetail (508) .... All these plants should be grown organic and local, put into cow horn or goat intestines, and be burried. Requires only 1cc for 10 tons of compost.

Also there is the fladen preparation which is based on fresh manure, egg shells, basalt and compost preparation that is sprayed on soil. All of these homeopathic preparation is used for biodynamic practice, such as activating with water, or putting some in compost piles.

Esteban is super happy with his fladen preparation and all the goodies! These are the treasure to make organic farming vital!

Lovely son with cow horn.

And what are the results we see on biodynamic farms? Practices show 1. The farm becomes holistic and integrated, therefore biodiversity boost 2. Disease tend to disappear 3. Produces better quality products 4. Increases income. And on top of that, the spiritual level of the human beings improve, because you start seeing your practice, farm, products, existence... all in a totally different holistic way.

Here is another video Esteban shared with us. Fibonacci sequence - the sacred geometry, pattern of life. So much beauty surrounding us that we don't care to pay attention - but it is all there.

The Day 1 strong message for me was "To see & feel the hidden things of the Universe." Biodynamic is all about "working with hidden energy of nature." The practice is of course organic, but not only - it goes beyond.... simply put it, it can be said "spiritual farming practice."

June 16th / Day 2 - hands-on workshop

* How to make organic biodynamic fertilizer (1 barrel = 55 gallon = 119 liter)

what you need: 1. manure (2 x 5 gallons) 2. ashes (1/2 bucket) 3. grounded bones 4. rock dust, or some form of minerals (picture shown below) 5. molasses (15 liter) 6. yeast (300-500g) - used to activate molasses 7. fladen preparation 8. your own pee!

All the above can be found around you or made by yourself, but this is an example of minerals if you need to obtain. 3500 colones per bag, and you use half of the bag. Nothing in Biodynamic is expensive!

Collect materials, then mix with water.

Put everything in the barrel, seal tight so that no oxgen will come in (anarobic fermentation process). Wait for 21 days. Activate with 10 times water, then ready to spray on roots & leafs.

* Biodynamic tree paste

1. manure (1 bucket) 2. clay (1 bucket) 3. sand (1 bucket) 4. handful of minerals 5. handful of ash 6. fladen preparation

Mix together. Use it when planting trees.

* Biodynamic repelent

1. hot chili (10-15 pieces) 2. garlic (6 heads) 3. strong alcohol 4. vinegar 5. spices like oregano, black pepper 6. molasses & yeast 7. a bit of manure

Mix all together. After letting it ferment for 2 weeks, activate with 5-10 times water. Apply.

* Fladen preparation spray

At the end, we activated (different from diluted!) the fladen preparation with water for 20 minutes, then sprayed some on the garden.

Do like as you are meditating! Right beautiful spin for a while, then go left. The water vortex will come to a chaos, but then the natural order will appear again. When you feel it's done, spray it in the garden in a spiral twist.

After a hard & fun days, we've learned that the community working together is essential to make biodynamic practices – for instance collecting bones and cow horns can be a hard job if you do it by yourself. Of course it’s easy to do it with team of friends rather than doing everything alone.

So the workshop was great not only for the immense amount of inspirational information, but to get to hook up with same minded people living close by. Biodynamics is the way for future agriculture, and the two days workshop was just the beginning. Muchas gracias Esteban, Deborah and the Nosara retreat team! (Esteban loves the Japanese Ninja boots... fantastic!)

Other useful resources on Biodynamics:

>> Documentary, One man, One cow, One planet >> Article, Mystic liver inside the world of biodynamic farming >> Article, and nice drawing >> Article by Vandana Shiva, We are the soil..... We are made up of the same five elements — earth, water, fire, air and space — that constitute the Universe. We are the soil. We are the earth. What we do to the soil, we do to ourselves. And it is no accident that the words “humus” and “humans” have the same roots.