I was introduced to biodynamics by my friend Giovanni in Sardinia. We would spend spring pruning olive trees, and autumn harvesting olives, while keeping a small vegetable garden. He was adamant that I follow the Maria Thun calendar when planting and transplanting plants, which I did.
Giovanni introduced me to some of the fundamental concepts of biodynamics, and I understood it to be one of the most comprehensive and holistic approaches to growing food.
As Covid restrictions came about across Europe in the first couple of months of 2020, I decided to return to the UK with my newly adopted dog.
I began looking at biodynamic/organic farms where I could continue my journey. I was fortunate to come across Ruskin Mill, which stood out to me because of my past interest in the writings of John Ruskin. Ruskin was my guide, empowering me to escape a 9-5 sales job, and travel to India, Switzerland, and Italy.
I started a two-year biodynamic apprenticeship in October of 2020.
I reflect now upon the last year. So I can develop visions for my second year of delving into the practice of biodynamics.
The Farmer Grows With His Farm
I have noticed that the farmer/gardener is at the centre of the farm. He grows alongside the plants which he cultivates, and the animals he cares for. Biodynamic practitioners develop intimate relationships with their farms and garden. A relationship severed on mechanistic farms. Without this relationship, the farmer observes his farm from outside it, rather than living within it.
The Importance Of Observing/Knowing What To Do When
Across the year the garden yields to the cycle of the seasons. To become a successful gardener it is pivotal to develop a thorough understanding of this cycle, so you know what jobs to do, and when to do them. The market garden team at Ruskin Mill follow a growing schedule, that has been refined over many years. This allows the growers to manage crop rotations, and have plants propagated at the right times, so they can be transplanted optimally.
Understanding what needs to be done when is something that I hope to work on over the next year of my training. I have bought a 5-year journal, so I can record when growing/farming/landscaping tasks are undertaken, to give me future insights.
What Is At The Centre Of A Biodynamic Farm? The Compost, The Farmer, The Student, Or All Three?
A compost pile is a transformative tool. The importance of composting in biodynamics differentiates it from other methods of growing. It transforms decaying matter, into a rich humus of potential. It is the digestive system and should be at the heart of the garden.
At Ruskin Mill, the student is at the centre of the farm. Biodynamics facilitates meaningful experiences to engage, and support students, in the faith that they develop the faculty for self-generated conscious action. Beyond the Ruskin Mill students, it should be noted that we are all students at the centre, whether farmers or directors, otherwise we will atrophy.
As I mentioned in my first reflection, The farmer is the nucleus of the farm, and therefore also deserves their place at the centre of a biodynamic farm
Biodynamic Food Tastes Better And Is Probably The Most Nutritious.
It’s no secret that biodynamic food tastes better. I remember visiting Ruskin Mill for the first time, and my mind was blown by the sweetness from the stalk of a spinach leaf.
Halfway through the year, I read a book called Deep Nutrition which influenced my views on food. Now, only 10% of my food comes from a supermarket, the rest comes from the farm shop/local health shops, foraging, and the market garden. I spend more, but in terms of nutrition per gram, it may be the most economical.
Due to the importance of composting, and soil health. I believe biodynamics to be the most nutritious method of growing food in the modern world. Our bodies know this, and that is why it tastes so good.