March 02, 2020

Why I am a biodynamic grower

Why I am a biodynamic grower

I was asked that question a little while ago.  So I decided to share it with you.

First we need to go back a few years.  I was living at Mudgeeraba in Queenslnd on 10 acres (mostly bush with a long driveway).  By then there were 3, maybe 4 daughters born.  The two eldest were attending Steiner School.  I really wanted to garden.  Up went the beds while the front of the property had more beds established and a chicken pen.  One problem though was taking shape:  invasive weed, namely Singapore Daisy.  A pest really.  Many approaches were applied with little or no effect.

I was sharing my concerns with people I mingled with.  One of those was a lady, Jean, keen gardener, applying the Demeter Bio-dynamic method on her backyard garden.  She told me about "pepper" and how it might help with the fight that was going on with the invasive weed.  I was curious to know more.  Jean lent me some written material (that was before the internet and the digital age) and I proceeded to read eagerly.  The peppering method was explained along side with the method, its origin, the extend of its cultivation in Australia and more.  It was like an "aaaaaahhhh!" moment for me.  A whole new door opening.  I was eager to know more.

Off I went to read everything I could find from Australia, Europe, Canada.  I read and read.  I had a go at getting hold of some preparation 500, mixed it the best I could do with what I had read and sprayed it on the property.

It was the very early stage of some sort of a biodynamic practice.

In the time that followed, the divorce came through which kept me busy for a little time while I was finding a new base for my four daughters and myself.

Resettled in Tallebudgera on 2 acres one thing was clear for me:  I wanted to grow following the biodynamic method.  The readings had given me enough material to further into the method and to apply it in a more consistent way.

In 2003 a one day workshop was being given in my area by Dick Marriott from Demeter Biodynamic.  I enrolled, went along, listened to it all and decided that is what I would do on the new property.  

What appealed to me was the solid approach and the many years of steady application.  Not a "fly by night" group.

The method was brought from Europe and further developed  in Australia since 1950.

Large scale Australian farms have been applying it since 1955-1960 (no big farmer would do this just for the fun of it).

The Demeter Biodynamic has been a cultivation method as well as national certification since 1967.

The improvements of the soil when applying this method properly are remarkable by their structure, the colour of the soil and the humus content.

The products grown with this method show a healthy, vibrant plant expression which translate into the final products made from it.

The products are, more often than not, commented as having the best taste.

The products present a better keeping quality.

In a nutshell what I saw was the possibility of create a superior quality product from what I could grow and that I would be proud of.

I was not sure really about what to grow yet I knew I wanted to grow something beneficial.  I thought that while raising my daughters I could develop an artisan, home based business from what would be grown on the property.

The first crop was garlic.  I liked the fact that it was a herb with culinary usage as well as medicinal.  The medicinal herbs were already part of my life by then and I had embarked on a herbalist course.

The crop though did not bring the yield that was expected.  Adding to this state of affair was the torrential rains which could come and rot the crop.

Nevertheless in 2004 the soil had a deep ripper put through and the first green manure crop was sown along side the application of the first preparation 500.  The following year, while doing the soul searching about what to grow, the application was made for the certification.

The following year, 2006, the inspiration came after completing a one week residential medicinal herb course in Tasmania held at the now defunct Pindari Herb Farm.  That is when the second "aaaaahhhh!" moment came.  Growing medicinal herbs beneficial for the skin, transforming the herbs and creating natural skincare products.  The eldest of my daughter was becoming a teenager (such a interesting time of life) and was showing interest in skincare products.  

My motivations were:

Wanting the best for my daughters,

The love of medicinal herbs,

A desire to cultivate in the best way possible for the soil,  

Creating products of superior quality,

Offering products which bring the best outcome for the end users

That was it. Nothing else.  Just those.

That is what brought me to Demeter Biodynamic and still happy with this choice.