Research Project Arising From Practice
(1.1) From this research project I want to understand the impact that a stirring area will have on the valley, and how to build it and with what materials.
(1.2) I have decided to research and develop a biodynamic stirring area in the valley. I became increasingly interested in the idea of a stirring area dedicated to the stirring of the biodynamic preparation following the weekend seminar on the preparations held at Ruskin Mill. It reinforced the importance of giving back energy to the garden, as we exploit the soil and forces when cultivating. The preparations are one of the ways we can revitalise our soils and gardens.
(1.3) Initially, my project idea was to create an area on the valley bank with a dual purpose for the biodynamic stirrings, and also a place where students and staff could unwind. However, through discussions with staff, I quickly realised that students and staff already have many designed areas in the valley in which to unwind, and creating a new area may encourage students to abscond from their sessions. Furthermore, it became clear that a biodynamic stirring area should be in full view from the public footpath, and easily assessable for stirrings. Mattias recommended an area in the valley for my project, I agreed that this would be a great location.
I then simplified my original proposal to designing and constructing an area solely for the purpose of stirring and storage of the biodynamic preparations. Through the biodynamic preparations and the increased likelihood of using them consistently in the valley with a dedicated area, I believe that this project will be of great benefit, and aligned with the seven fields of practice.
- Genius Loci: I will spend some time observing the area before starting my project. I am taking down a pre-existing structure, and compost furnace. I intend to incorporate many of the materials back into the project.
- Practical Skills: My project will involve excavating into the clay bank, removing materials away, and constructing a stone wall and foundation. A host of practical skills will be involved to actualise this project.
- Biodynamic Ecology: Biodynamic preparations are central to biodynamic agriculture. By creating a designated area for the stirring of the preparations, it’s likely that the frequency of spraying them in the valley will increase.
- Therapeutic Education: Students will be involved during the construction of the stirring area. I hope my finished stirring area will be beautiful. If so it may rejuvenate more neglected parts of the valley, thus creating a more therapeutic environment where students are working.
- Holistic Support and Care: The biodynamic preparation provide holistic support for the land and plants. In turn, the nutritional dense vegetables grown in the valley will contribute to the well-being of the staff and students.
- Holistic Medicine: The biodynamic preparations that will be stirred together by practitioners in the valley, are holistic medicines for the soil, and the plants.
- Transformative Leadership: I will have to hold myself accountable for designing and creating this preparation stirring area. I will need to manage my time and solve problems that will arise throughout the project.
(2.1) The project proposal was accepted. So I have moved onto the research stage. Firstly, I need to formulate a worthy question as a starting point for my research, such as:
What is the importance of choosing a location solely for the purposes of the stirring and storage of the biodynamic preparations within the landscape of the Ruskin Mill Valley?
How can a preparation stirring area be built to ensure that it is used frequently, and is continually maintained for years to come?
Which building materials should be used or avoided when building a biodynamic preparation stirring area?
How will the besom be held into the stirring barrel?
How to construct a suitable pit for the cowpat preparation?
All of the questions above are very important for my project, to justify the project, and to ensure that it will fulfil its purpose as a stirring area over many years.
(2.2) To conduct my research I have many resources available. Firstly, many colleagues have extensive knowledge in the field of biodynamic and have built their own preparation areas in the past. I also have books including the Agriculture Course, where Rudolf Steiner first outlined the preparations, and where he also comments on the effects that the stirrings have on people, and comments on which materials should be used and avoided. I also have access to many biodynamic books such as ‘The Biodynamic Spray and Compost Preparations, Directions for use, Wistinghausen’
How does a dedicated preparation stirring area benefit the Ruskin Mill valley? How important is the design and construction to ensure that it fulfils its purpose for many years?
(3.1) A wooden barrel, spring water, and a broom is all you require for the stirring of the biodynamic preparations. The biodynamic preparations need to be used often, and practitioners must compromise if necessary, to get the preparations dispersed across the land. However, we must also strive towards the ideal when we can. I believe that a dedicated area for the biodynamic preparations stirrings is the ideal for any biodynamic holding. Through my research I want to discover the affects that a dedicated stirring area will have on the Ruskin Mill valley. Additionally, I will be researching how the design, materials, and construction will influence the frequency of stirrings.
The preparations are homeopathic treatments for the land. Through the use of these preparations we are presenting vitality back into the land, vitality which we have exploited through cultivation. By using preparation such as 500 & 501, we are providing forces that will aid the health of the soil, and the health of the plants. By having a stirring area in the locally, it becomes more likely that we will practice these stirrings more often. In have decided to integrate a storage area as part of the stirring area, here the compost preparations will be stored. Along with a Cowpat pit, it makes the preparation area a very practical space for all of the preparations to be used in the valley.
Stirrings are significant moments for biodynamic practitioners. On one day in summer it involves waking up at the crack of dawn, to stir preparation horn silica 501. Often this brings colleagues, and land workers together from different areas. I hope that the preparation stirring area, will being together people in the valley. For this reason I want to integrate many areas of the valley into the preparation area. This could be reflected in the materials and elements that make up the stirring area.
- Pottery – Clay tiles indicating the spray and compost preps, to be attached to stone wall
- Green Woodwork – The crafting of a small door for the storage area of the preps
- The Forge – The forging of a structure to hold the besom
Colleagues if they wish to join together in the valley to stir the preparations, feel very important. The preparations could be sprayed across the whole of the valley, where required. By having everyone together, there is a powerful intention that is made, and it offers a chance for staff to speak about the landscape and share in the practice.
(3.2) In Lecture Four of The Agriculture Course, Rudolf Steiner introduces biodynamic preparations. Which he had asked Pfeiffer to research two years prior to the lectures given in 1924. After Steiner has spoken about the cow manure, and horn silica preparations, he then speaks about the stirring process to enliven and vitalise the substance in water.
The stirring of the preparations in the barrels takes one hour. Steiner says “Think, how little work it involves! The burden of work will really not be very great.” He goes on to explain that farmers and “idle members of the farming household” will gather around and take pleasure in the stirrings.
Over the last two years, I have participated in 3 or 4 stirrings. We stir at sunrise with the silica preparations. We watch the sunrise, drink coffee, and are led into conversations that we wouldn’t normally have, due to the setting, and the rhythmic stirring.
Importantly, we become active participants. Connecting with the land in a way that feels significant. Steiner goes on to say “This personal relationship to the matter (and you can well develop it) is extraordinarily beneficial – at any rate for one who likes to see Nature as a whole and not only as in the Baedeker guide-books”.
It’s important that whoever is stirring is focused, and carries it out will passion and purpose. Pfeiffer writes “Anyone who is lazy and stirs for a shorter period or less energetically will have only himself to blame for any failure in the result. If the overseer does not do the stirring himself, he must, at any rate, supervise it and see that it is consciously carried out”.
I see the act of stirring as a communal activity for anyone who is involved with the farm organisms and wants to take part. By having a stirring area in the Valley, then members of staff that are interested in biodynamics can take part. Their relationship with the land may transform as a result.
A stirring area in the valley may bring colleagues together to perform the stirrings, but it will also increase the number of stirrings and preparations that we are putting onto the land.
Over the last two years, we haven’t disseminated enough of the biodynamic preparations across the valley. Even though it is a fundamental aspect of biodynamic agriculture.
|500 Cow Horn Manure||Fresh cow manure, and cow horns||Enhances the life of the soil||Spray|
|501 Cow Horn Silica||Clear quartz (Silicon dioxide) triturated into a fine powder||Increases plant immunity, crystallising effect which helps to ripen and protect seed||Spray|
|502 Yarrow||Flowers of Yarrow (Achilea millefolium)||Helps the soil draw in substances, support structure, heals wounds.||Added to Compost|
|503 Camomile||Flowers of Camomile (Matricaria chamomila)||Helps to stabilise plant nutrients and invigorate plant growth, and calm the chaos within the compost.||Added to Compost|
|504 Stinging Nettle||Whole Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)||Develops sensitivity in the soil, and helps to stabilise nitrogen||Added to Compost|
|505 Oak Bark||Oak Bark (Quercus robur)||Helps increase a plant’s resistance to disease, increases flocculation so the compost doesn’t become anaerobic.||Added to Compost|
|506 Dandelion||Flowers of Dandelion (Taraxacum offcinale)||Activities light influences in the soul||Added to Compost|
|507 Valerian||Flowers of Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)||Protection, temperature regualtion||Sprayed over Compost|
|508 Horsetail||Flowers of Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)||Prevents fungal diseases, and balances the water elements||Spray|
There are various studies looking at the efficacy of the biodynamic preparations.
To show how the biodynamic preparations may support the farm organism of the valley, let’s dive into some of the literature, exploring the efficacy of the preparations from a scientific perspective.
Data Collection Method
Present the process, findings and conclusions of the research project in an appropriate style and structure.
Interpret qualitative and quantitative evidence gathered in an appropriate format.
Interpret data to draw conclusions from the research.
Results & Analysis
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