Sunday, January 8, 2012

Biodynamics: The Power of Life

After such knowledge:  what forgiveness?
                                    …Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism.  Virtues
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.
                                                               --T.S. Eliot

I’m not one to throw my opinion in randomly, especially since I am not a winemaker and I’m not physically practicing Biodynamics.  However, I am a believer in the power of life and within all its constraints and possibilities.

Recently I read a piece describing Biodynamics and its relation to Mid-Adlantic region winemakers.  Good writing, facts, opinions, but what made it successful was the ensuing onslaught of comments—all poignant and passionate, with some a little more heated than others.  Despite some disparate points of view, it’s all still good—variety is the spice of life.  This all gets us thinking, moving, doing—to improve ourselves, to become better human beings by rediscovering ways to a more healthy and whole lifestyle.

A Powerful Life
Super easy definition of Biodynamics:  First, let’s break down the word:
Bio:  life
Dynamics: powerful
Biodynamics is the power of life.  It is “wholeness” in its most basic form. According to Biodynamic farmers, they view their farm as part of a circle - animals, other crops, people, weather, lunar cycles, with a unique balance between all the elements.

Of Conferences and little white Pills
The whole "farm" should be self-sustaining, which means no synthetic chemicals (remember, it’s the power of life.)
I attended a Boston University conference many years ago and the gist of it was the rise of the urban farm.  Why? Because large, “conventional” farming was destroying our fragile ecosystem.  By farming on a much smaller level, folks are able to “control” what goes into the soil and what comes out of it.  Now, control is in quotes because none of us is in total control of anything, but that’s the point.  (We’ll come back to this in a minute.)

What was absolutely exciting for me is that the attendees came from all over the world and from varying occupations:  farmers, politicians, scientists, psychologists, chefs, etc.  Meaning, the safety and well-being of our food sources are paramount to the survival of our species.  I even attended a discussion board speculating on the future of our food system if we did not adopt a way to grow with a conscience.  The words extinction and little white pills were common in the room.  Scary stuff. 

6 Degrees of Separation is now about 4.2
There’s been lots of talk about whether Biodynamics is a faith-based system.  Anything and nothing can be faith-based.  By history's accounts, "faith" makes people do some crazy things.  Why? Because logic, philosophy and science are thrown out the window.   Biodynamics uses the principles of biology, logic, philosophy and science as a whole.  Each principle is treated with respect and each gives to Biodynamics its power, because by employing these principles, Biodynamics is not just “one” as religion, but made up of many.  Frankly, I think biodynamics is the “new” farming reality for our 21st century.

There is a reverence towards Biodynamics, not because it’s a religion, but because of its possibilities in achieving agricultural wholeness. 

On Rudolph
Rudolph Steiner was a little nuts, but brilliance sometimes breeds a little insanity.  When I lived in San Diego, I traveled over two hours inland to attend a Biodynamics seminar.  And again, the attendees were small farmers, vineyard owners, a large-scale cattle rancher, homemakers, students.  Steiner was mentioned, but only in passing. Biodynamics itself has become most important, not Steiner.

Vineyard Dynamics
Biodynamics and terroir go hand in hand.  When we talk about minimalism in the vineyard, with the winemaker letting the power of life forms: soil, air, water do its work:  do I dare make the jump and say Biodynamics is terroir?  What we put into the vineyard we get out of it:  cause and effect.

All my words here have a common denominator:  human interaction.  Religion, biodynamics, logic, philosophy, science, technology—it’s all based on the human condition—how we use this knowledge, which is  “evolving” whether by good or bad. Technology can work for and against us—the trick is in its intended use. The only thing that’s truly constant is the Earth.  Its only purpose is the preservation of life, in the most natural way possible.  Nature does not give us the illusion of control.  As we’ve seen, Nature is influenced by human interaction. Hopefully, by employing Biodynamics, we can achieve a naturally occurring wholeness.


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