Farm Individuality – New Perspective for Urban Farm Growers

Harvest Magazine Article – Spring 2018

Farm individuality is an important principle in biodynamic food growing. Individuality can also be applied in urban food growing spaces of any scale, but there are some changes needed in how to work with individuality, some new perspectives. 

I had the pleasure of running a workshop recently at the global centre for biodynamics in Dornach, Switzerland at the Goetheanum. It was the 2018 international biodynamic conference. The workshop I ran was focused on working with biodynamic preparations in the urban food growing context. Farm individuality was discussed and a number of the perspectives described below evolved from our conversations. 

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Kiss the Ground – Farming in Service of Life

Wondered about biodynamics? Here’s a short film from the incredible Kiss the Ground team which gives a great overview and introduction to the philosophy biodynamics.

Share with any curious friends and family!

Kiss the Ground Short Film.

Cheesery with a unique approach wins big at NZ Cheese Awards

A Hawke’s Bay cheesery has won big at the New Zealand Cheese Awards, taking home six awards for their perfectly crafted cheese.

Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay cheesery has become one of the top boutique manufacturers in the country with its own unique approach.

It was founded 65 years ago to provide intellectually disabled people with more opportunities, and now employs 180 people in the region.

“Everyone at Hōhepa has something to offer. We come together and live our vision of every life fully lived; it makes a difference every day,” General Manager Santiago de Marco says.

“We feel very privileged and proud to celebrate these cheese awards. We bring people together and celebrate diversity. It’s all about making a positive impact in the community and the world.”

The cheese has also impressed a world-renowned expert.

Juliet Harbutt says the cheese at Hōhepa is “some of the best I have tasted in the world because of the way they make it”.

It’s made through a biodynamic farming system, meaning it follows a more sustainable, holistic approach than traditional farming practices.

Harbutt says what the cows graze on is “so interesting”, adding that the cheese is “all made on-site”.

“You can taste the difference.”

Santiago says the secret to a perfect cheese is time.

“Some of the cheese being tasted is a pre-Covid cheese, made three years ago so the news couldn’t come at a better time.”

Biodynamics Council

Conference 2022 – Speakers

Steiner Community Workshops Continue at Motueka School

The latest Community Workshop on Biodynamics was held on Saturday 12th February at the Steiner School site in Robinson Road, Lower Moutere. This was the third workshop in a series of eight which started in November last year. The Motueka Rudolf Steiner School Trust (MRSST) has been able to offer workshops in the theory and practice of using biodynamics to bring life and health back to our soils, our land and the food we grow, for koha. This has been through funding from Kete Ora Trust.

On Saturday, participants were led by Dieter Proebst with a morning theory session at the Steiner school which Dieter describes as ‘a mind massage’, and an afternoon session in the shed at the school’s farm. The workshop was entitled ‘Permaculture as a Design Framework for Biodynamics’, looking at the best of both and combining them. In the afternoon, participants were invited to create together a model landscape on a  two square metre sandbox set up on a table. It was participatory and collaborative with lots of conversation. 

Dieter is one of the founders of the Motueka Rudolf Steiner School Trust, which began in 1984 with the kindergarten in a house at Riverside, Lower Moutere. Dieter is a highly-experienced forester, nurseryman, farmer, and orchardist. He came to New Zealand from Germany in 1981 with a Master of Science/Forestry from Munich University, and he settled in the Motueka Valley on the West Bank. 

Over 35 years, he turned 30 acres of bare pasture into a successful certified organic farm and nursery with, amongst others, over 100 varieties of apples. Dieter holds a Diploma in Permaculture Design and is a recognised land-use consultant. He has led many workshops over the years, is an author, a long-standing biodynamic grower and advisor, and a former Demeter Inspector.

There are many techniques of land management – biodynamics, permaculture, organics, regenerative agriculture and others. Dieter refers to these as ‘franchises’, as he believes the most important in all of these is the land, the environment, and working out what the land wants and needs: ”While there is a plethora of literature about land management,” Dieter says, “often the problem lies in people’s minds. People need to trust their instincts.” 

His Treedimensions Land Use Consultancy, which he continues to run from where he now lives in Golden Bay, is about finding site appropriate solutions. He hopes that the workshop participants will learn to apply their own common sense, their gut feeling and  their intuition to living with their land. He calls for people to have open minds, be curious and humble to learn.

The next  Biodynamic Community workshop will be held on 266h March and will be led by Su Hoskin, an experienced biodynamic practitioner and educator, on making the Biodynamic preparations. Dieter will return for another workshop in April which will be about edible landscaping and the food forest concept. For more information and to reserve a place email carolynhughes@foulis.nz .The workshops are each limited to 25  people so registrations are on a first come first serve basis.

Climate Considerations from Members

Harvest Magazine – Autumn 2021

The following piece is an excerpt from The Autumn/Winter issue of Harvests 2021. For access to the full article and to participate in monthly Zoom gatherings, become a member of Biodynamics New Zealand.

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Gill Bacchus Talks Biodynamic Food

Below is an excerpt written by Gill Bacchus from the Spring 2021 issue of Harvests (available to members of Biodynamics New Zealand). Gill recently self published a book called ‘Love Your Vegges’ which is packed with information about biodynamic gardening and how to get more nutritious vegges into your children! We highly recommend it. Contact Gill if you want to purchase a copy gillbacchus@gmail.com. Become a member here https://biodynamic.org.nz/product/annual-membership

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The New Generation of Biodynamic Gardeners

Kaitlyn is  18 years old and is John Paul College’s environmental captain in Rotorua. She has a huge passion for growing nutrient rich food from seed and diverting waste from the landfill by making compost. She has recently become a member of Biodynamics New Zealand and shares with us her passion for gardening, sustainability and visions of what her future holds.

This is an excerpt from the Spring 2021 issue of Harvests, to have access to the full article, and many other perks become a member of Biodynamics New Zealand here https://biodynamic.org.nz/biodynamic-association/joining-the-association

What is it about biodynamics that interests you?

What interests me about Biodynamics is that the garden and every single part of that garden environment is looked at from a holistic viewpoint. This is very important, as nothing in nature is separate. They are all interconnected. Just like we are to Papatuanuku. Which is why I love how growers use ‘waste’ and plants from their land/garden to improve the health of their soil and therefore the health of the food they produce and the health of the ecosystem. I find this truly amazing because nowadays lots of growers depend on external inputs in order to grow food, which isn’t sustainable. I believe if we can return to biodynamic methods, then we will be able to even further slow down the greenhouse effect and find an even stronger connection to our environment. 

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Into the Soil: An interview with Mattias Olssen about biodynamics and film making.

I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to Swedish film maker and podcaster Mattias Olssen about his documentary film ‘Into the Soil’ for the Spring issue of Harvests. He is the creator of the multimedia project called Campfire Stories, where he interviews people in his community pursuing sustainable and sometimes alternative lifestyles.  In this film he documents the philosophical approach of the biodynamic farmer Brigid LeFevre, who grew up in a Camphill community and now runs a small biodynamic farm where she grows supplies to make some of the best Kimchi in Europe.

To read the full interview and have access to Harvests Magazine, become a member of Biodynamics New Zealand here

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