Agriculture Course: The Birth of the Biodynamic Method

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Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004 - Technology & Engineering - 175 pages
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8 lectures, Koberwitz, June 7-20, 1924 (CW 327)
The audio book, complete and unabridged (10 CD set), is read by respected actor and speech teacher Peter Bridgmont, author of Liberation of the Actor.

When Rudolf Steiner gave these lectures eighty years ago, industrial farming was on the rise and organic methods were being replaced in the name of science, efficiency, and technology. With the widespread alarm over food quality in recent years, and with the growth of the organic movement and its mainstream acceptance, perceptions are changing. The qualitative aspect of food is on the agenda again, and in this context Steiner's only course of lectures on agriculture is critical to the current debate.

With these talks, Steiner created and launched "biodynamic" farming--a form of agriculture that has come to be regarded as the best organically produced food. However, the agriculture Steiner speaks of here is much more than organic--it involves working with the cosmos, with the earth, and with spiritual beings. To facilitate this, Steiner prescribes specific "preparations" for the soil, as well as other distinct methods born from his profound understanding of the material and spiritual worlds. He presents a comprehensive picture of the complex dynamic relationships at work in nature and gives basic indications of the practical measures needed to bring them into full play.

These lectures are reprinted here in the "classic" translation made by Rudolf Steiner's English interpreter, George Adams. This edition also features a preface by Steiner's colleague the medical doctor Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, as well as eight color plates.

This is the course that began the biodynamic movement. Rudolf Steiner's Agriculture Course is the essential work for anyone wanting to understand and use Steiner's methods of food production.

This book is a translation from German of Geisteswissenschaftliche Grundlagen zum Gedeihen der Landwirtschaft. Landwirtschaftlicher Kursus (GA 327).

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We live in a world in which we expect a scientist to put the world under a microscope and come up with answers for us. That leaves most people completely un prepared for Steiner’s look at agriculture, because he puts the world of agriculture under a macroscope and comes up with answers for us: how we should farm, how we should nourish our plants, how we should eliminate weeds and insects, and how we should schedule our activities in synchronism with the moon, planets, and stars which comprise the macrocosm in which we live and breathe.
What is a macroscope? It’s a name I coined for Steiner’s technique of looking at the big picture, explaining how to understand agriculture holistically. Contrast Steiner’s approach to that of the horticulturist with a microscope identifying minute parts of plants or a chromatograph to identify minute percentages of zinc or lithium or silica, etc, and prescribing chemical sprays to combat fungi and wilt, insecticides to combat pests, and herbicides to kill weeds.
What do we see when we put our eyes to Steiner’s macroscope and peer through its lenses? Marvelous things! Breathtaking things!
We see that there are no unhealthy plants, only unhealthy soil; no weeds to be killed, only healthy plants where we don’t want them to be; no insect pests, only insects that are attracted to feed on plants made weak by chemical fertilizing. We see how to treat soil to make it healthy so that fungi, mildew, wilt, rot, and other so-called plant diseases rarely happen in our gardens, and are immediately remedied when they do appear. We see how to make our garden unattractive to insect pests and weeds. And best of all we see how healthy the food we eat from our garden makes us.
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About the author (2004)

Austrian-born Rudolf Steiner was a noted Goethe (see Vol. 2) scholar and private student of the occult who became involved with Theosophy in Germany in 1902, when he met Annie Besant (1847--1933), a devoted follower of Madame Helena P. Blavatsky (1831--1891). In 1912 he broke with the Theosophists because of what he regarded as their oriental bias and established a system of his own, which he called Anthroposophy (anthro meaning "man"; sophia sophia meaning "wisdom"), a "spiritual science" he hoped would restore humanism to a materialistic world. In 1923 he set up headquarters for the Society of Anthroposophy in New York City. Steiner believed that human beings had evolved to the point where material existence had obscured spiritual capacities and that Christ had come to reverse that trend and to inaugurate an age of spiritual reintegration. He advocated that education, art, agriculture, and science be based on spiritual principles and infused with the psychic powers he believed were latent in everyone. The world center of the Anhthroposophical Society today is in Dornach, Switzerland, in a building designed by Steiner. The nonproselytizing society is noted for its schools.

George Adams (1894-1963)was born in Poland and received an honors degree in Chemistry from Cambridge University. He was a close student of Rudolf Steiner, and translated many of his lectures given to English-speaking audiences. Being a Jew, when Hitler rose to power he changed his name from Kaufmann to Adams and left Germany for England, where he continued his anthroposophic activities and scientific research. In 1935, Olive Whicher joined Adams in London and worked with him in research into mathematics and physics until his death in 1963. He translated and published numerous books, lectures, and articles.

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