In his 1924 lectures on the deleterious effects of industrial agricultural, Rudolf Steiner predicted that:
“. . .we can calculate in approximately how many decades [agricultural] products will have degenerated to such an extent that they can no longer serve as human nourishment. . . . We can see how necessary it is to derive forces from the spirit, forces that are as yet quite unknown. This is necessary not only for the sake of somehow improving agriculture, but so that human life on earth can continue at all, since as physical beings we depend on what the earth provides.”
Now, some 80 years later, Steiner’s words seem even more prescient as we face mounting challenges to our ability to feed the world’s population by current methods. Or, as author Paul Roberts wrote in his 2008 book The End of Food, “Arable land is growing scarcer. Inputs like pesticides and synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are increasingly expensive. Soil degradation and erosion from hyperintensive farming are costing millions of acres of farmland a year. Water supplies are being rapidly depleted in parts of the world, even as the rising price of petroleum — the lifeblood of industrial agriculture — is calling into question the entire agribusiness model.”
We hear of these trends in newspaper articles, movies, and books, from the daily pages of the New York Times to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth to Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Biodynamic farming, on the other hand, offers a holistic approach to farming, incorporating the natural rhythms of the earth, from the phases of the moon to the rotation of the earth and its position in relation to the Sun and planets, to the development of rich compost. Biodynamic, at its most essential, views the farm as a self-sufficient system — a living organism that yields the highest quality food in the most sustainable way.
Glen Brook's biodynamic garden, inspired by Rudolf's Steiner's lectures on the subject, is a source of amazing bounty and beauty. Making full use of the camp's two greenhouses to jump-start our growing season, we have been growing literal tons of vegetables. The garden provides 100 percent of our salads and most of our kitchen's vegetable needs. Campers and visiting students are involved in the garden at every level, from composting to planting, to transplanting seedlings, to weeding and harvesting. We have seen an exponential rise in children eating vegetables in the dining room as a result of being involved in this process.