The Soil Revolution – part 1

The Soil Revolution – part 1

The soil revolution   The status quo –
where are we now? 

As far back as 2014, Reuters reported that a senior UN official said, “If we continue with our intense farming practices and destruction of wildlife at the current levels – we have realistically 60 years of sustainable farming left. “ (source Scientific American)

This is a sobering thought. But what has happened on the official front since 2014?

Where are the school campaigns that explain to children that to make 3cm of topsoil takes the earth roughly 1000 years, but we only have 60 left. Where are the billboards and media campaigns to the same effect? I am interested in this topic and apart from the occasional scientific paper, it does not seem to be ‘newsworthy.

But this ecological wave is coming nearer and nearer and nearer. And the evidence is all too clear. Since 2014 we had more floods, bushfires, and heatwaves and the destruction simply moves on. First the coral reefs, then the icebergs in Antarctica, the increase of desert and soil destruction, and the massive, massive loss of wildlife. The last one is properly the most talked about topic. And it is lovely to look after the bees, but only bees and no other wildlife would never ever work.

I know it is not the best place we currently find ourselves in, but this blog series is not meant to be just doom and gloom. The essence here is – what can we do about it?  And then act fast!

Luckily there are a few men and women around who really grasped this concept early on and started doing something about it. Some of these methods are really ingenious and we will hear more about their various projects over the next few articles.

But let’s start first at the beginning

When Rudolf Steiner first taught his first Biodynamic soil lectures – now almost 100 years ago – this topic did not seem relevant and he was called a deluded dreamer for most of the 20th century. But not anymore.  Ever since scientists discovered microbes in the soil and even inside us,  the concept of ‘the living soil’ has moved from random fiction to fact.

The first Biodynamic lectures were held just after the First World War and this is by no means a coincidence. Although this war was short (1914-1918), the world saw chemical warfare used for the first time in combat. The real war benefit was only established towards the end of this war, but with peace on the horizon all these chemical plants had no longer any use.  So a plan was hatched that these chemicals could in diluted form be brought out on the fields to get rid of ‘soil and leaf’ pests. This meant the farmer did not have to adhere to long-standing traditional methods of crop rotation, weeding and composting. The ‘miracle cure was of course much easier to administer.

And initially the farmers were enthusiastic. Who would not like more yield and less work? But after a few years, the quality of the soil and produce deteriorated and some farmers asked Steiner for advice.

Additionally, the first year a little bit of fertiliser did the trick, but with every subsequent year more and more fertilizer had to be used to achieve the same result. This is costly but after a while, there is not much of an alternative. left.  The farmers can’t just stop the farm for a couple of years in order to wait for the soil to revigorate. This is not a sustainable business model and the trap continues.

What had happened?

Let’s look first at how the soil works. Compost material (waste from the previous growing season) together with compost tonics and manure are put onto the fields and reinvigorate the soil. This usually happens in late autum (the end of the growing cycle)  and in early spring (the beginning of the cycle). This enables the billions of microbes in the soil to turn the compost into a fertile, nutrient-rich soil, ready for the next growing cycle. This humus is full of fungi, earthworms and insects. It is the ‘internet of the soil’, distributing moisture and letting plants almost ‘communicate’ with each other and certainly cross-fertilize each other (that is the principle of companion planting).

But artificial fertilizers destroy all these natural soil improvers, turning fertile, alive soil (there are billions of these creatures in just a handful of earth) into dirt= dead soil.

Lifeless dirt is then artificially fed to produce the next year’s crop, but there is no regeneration. Once this chemical is washed away by the rain, it is gone and more product has to be put on to replace it. But more importantly, the food you eat is ‘also dead’ as no or very few microbes survive. Dead food lacks nutrients and most importantly microbes. We need the soil and its creature for our survival, too.  IPS, bloating and more severe health crises can often be traced back to food that gives us fuel (and puts on calories) but does not actually ‘feed us’. And that is not even taking obesity and diabetes into account.

I have often talked about the macro-organism and the micro-organism and how they work together. If you are new to this concept it is as follows:

The Macro-organism is the universe, the planets, stars and micro-organisms are all living creatures. Beetles, birds, whales, lions, trees, flowers, and of course us humans. It is like a huge clockwork, every clog and wheel turns individually, but when in harmony they feed and enrich each other. 

Going back to the clock example. Taking a small wheel out of the clock may be ok, but destroying half of the clockwork – what do you think would happen? Most children could answer this.

But this is exactly what we are doing with the planet. Currently, we are losing about 30 soccer fields EVERY MINUTE!

We read above that the earth is capable of making 3cm of good quality topsoil in about 1000 years – please make the Maths.

Additionally, the soil is responsible for catching carbon and hanging on to water. Dirt can’t do that and the results are floods and climate change.

So, we are where we are, and no more gloom! From now on this series will turn to seek real, positive solutions.  We need to make this positive turning point for the sake of our children and grandchildren. The Soil Revolution has started and we are all hell-bent to reverse this damage done over the last 100 years. Come and join in and do your bit!

 

 An Introduction to LWTM

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The biodynamic ‘essence of life’

The biodynamic ‘essence of life’

Finding Balance

I often get asked what does the phrase ‘biodynamic’ actually means? In essence, it means ‘lifeforce’. This sounds simple, but when you look a bit more into it its origin it can get quite complex.

Most cultures have specific names for this ‘lifeforce’. In the Hindu philosophy, it is referred to as prana’, in China, it is known as ‘chi/qi’, the Mayans known it as ‘chu’lel’ and the Aborigines in Australia call it ‘alcheringa’ and these are just a few examples.

“All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a conscious and intelligent non-visible living energy force. This energy force is the matrix mind of all matter.”   – Max Planck, developer of Quantum physics. 

When Rudolf Steiner coined the phrase ‘biodynamic’ in the early 1900ie he used the Ancient Greek words  bio=life and dunamis – energy to describe this ‘life-force’.

He was certainly influenced by Wilhelm Reich’s research, another fellow Austrian doctor and author who published his work around the same time as the Biodynamic movement started and came to similar conclusions.

the biodynamic life forceThis ‘lifeforce’ is omnipresent, in plants, minerals, the cosmos, animals, and of course in us humans. The overarching concept is a symbiotic harmony of all lifeforms. It is the interconnectedness between macro-organism (the planets, stars, the universe) and all life on earth. It is the ‘energy’ that makes us think and tick and describes the harmony between the body, the mind, and the soul.

It is also the energy that makes us think of someone or gives us ‘a gut feeling’. We all pick it up subconsciously. It is about vibrations and how we interact. Some people lighten up a room others bring in ‘some bad vibe’.

We say that some people ‘have green fingers’, meaning they grow plants and garden with ease, where others can’t manage to keep a plant alive. This effect is true and has to do with ‘life-force’. We all exert energy and other humans,  animals and plants pick this up. There is a study that asked its volunteers to water plants with the same amount of water, light, and growing condition. But one test group has to gently stroke the plants in their care and ‘give them some love’. The other test group were encouraged not touch the plants and to handle them in an aggressive manner. I know what you are thinking these are plants, it should not matter – same light, the same amount of water should give the same results.  But this study clearly showed that it did matter and quite a lot, too. Therefore a ‘green fingered person is simply a gardener that really cares about their plants and gets pleasure out of handling them.

The saying ‘ where attention goes – energy flows’ is a clear manifestation for this elusive force. We tend to be skeptical about everything that we can not see, touch, hear or measure. But that does not mean it does not exist.

Translate this to agriculture and it is easy to see why biodynamic food tastes so good and is ‘full of life’. It is the way the soil is prepared, the crops are rotated, the organic watering/fertilizing process is handled. And once harvested, the fresh produce is handled with care, packed in breathable containers until it reaches the plate and is not stored into tight-fitting plastic wrappers that won’t let any air in. 

During the growing cycle, the plant has plenty of interactions with other plant species and animals like bees, butterflies, and earthworms. There is not one specific benefit that matters the most – it is all these combined that produces this vibrant, good-tasting and healthy food. Which in turn nourishes us and keeps us happy and healthy – as we all know – you are what you eat.

Here is an article that compare Biodynamic agriculture with convential growing methods. 

As the Beach Boys sing – it is all about ‘good vibrations’. Here is an article series that may help you with this. I have rekindled it for our newer community members. It is called  The Benefit of crystals.

If you want to find out more about LWTM, please download our Freebies that give you more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Balance

I often get asked what does the phrase ‘biodynamic’ actually mean? So here is an article that I can point future enquiries to. 

In essence, it means ‘lifeforce’. This sounds simple, but when you look a bit more into it its origin it can get quite complex.

Most cultures have specific names for this ‘lifeforce’. In the Hindu philosophy, it is referred to as prana’, in China, it is known as ‘chi/qi’, the Mayans known it as ‘chu’lel’ and the Aborigines in Australia call it ‘alcheringa’ and these are just a few to mention.

“All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a conscious and intelligent non-visible living energy force. This energy force is the matrix mind of all matter.”   – Max Planck, developer of Quantum physics. 

When Rudolf Steiner coined the phrase ‘biodynamic’ in the early 1900ie he used the Ancient Greek words  bio=life and dunamis – energy to describe this ‘life-force’.

He was also influenced by Wilhelm Reich’s research, another fellow Austrian doctor and author who published his work around the same time as the Biodynamic movement started and came to similar conclusions.

the biodynamic life forceThis ‘lifeforce’ is omnipresent, in plants, minerals, the cosmos, animals, and of course in us humans. The overarching concept is a symbiotic harmony of all lifeforms. It is the interconnectedness between macro-organism (the planets, stars, the universe) and all life on earth. It is the ‘energy’ that makes us think and tick and describes the harmony between the body, the mind, and the soul.

It is also the energy that makes us think of someone or gives us ‘a gut feeling’. We all pick it up subconsciously. It is about vibrations and how we interact. Some people lighten up a room others bring in ‘some bad vibe’. 

We say that some people ‘have green fingers’, meaning they grow plants and garden with ease, where others can’t manage to keep a plant alive. This effect is true and has to do with ‘life-force’. We all exert energy and other humans,  animals and plants pick this up. There is a study that asked its volunteers to water plants with the same amount of water, light, and growing condition. But one test group has to gently stroke the plants in their care and ‘give them some love’. The other test group were encouraged not touch the plants and to handle them in an aggressive manner. I know what you are thinking these are plants, it should not matter – same light, the same amount of water should give the same results.  But this study clearly showed that it did matter and quite a lot, too. Therefore a ‘green fingered person is simply a gardner that really cares about their plants and garden. Maybe not rushing through, but enjoying the time with the plants.

Translate this to agriculture and it is easy to see why biodynamic food tastes so good and is ‘full of life’. It is the way the soil is prepared, the crops are rotated, the organic watering/fertilizing process is handled. And once harvested, the fresh produce is handled with care, packed in breathable containers until it reaches the plate and is not stored into tight-fitting plastic wrappers that won’t air in.

During the growing cycle, the plant has plenty of interactions with other plant species and animals like bees, butterflies, and earthworms. There is not one specific benefit – it is all these combined that produces this vibrant, good-tasting and healthy food. Which in turn nourishes us and keeps us happy and healthy – as you are what you eat.

As the Beach Boys sing – it is all about ‘good vibrations’. Here is an article series that may help you with this. It is called The Benefit of crystals.

If you want to find out more about LWTM, please download our Freebies that give you more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Holistic Life

The Holistic Life

Holistic Lifestyle      I started LIVING  WITH   THE  MOON a few years ago with my basic Biodynamic calendar charts and a handful of tips. books and recipes from my grandmother.

This lifestyle system – what I now call  LIVING WITH THE MOON – has always been in my life. It is my little ‘magic carpet’. Invisible, but it gives me grounding and purpose and has been my foundation for as long as I can remember. 

In essence, Living With The Moon is based on my grandmother’s biodynamic lifestyle tips and recipes mixed with my own research. But more recently I added another dimension to it – Holistic Life Planning

The first person who coined the holistic approach was Aristotle. This Ancient Greek philosopher (born in 385 B.C.) wrote
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. A simple sentence with a complex sentiment and totally symbiotic with the Biodynamic view of the world. The idea that all living beings are interconnected and part of a large macro-organism and is nothing new. It is even more incomprehensible that we are so hell-bent on damaging/compromising nature and its ecosystems.  As the inevitable consequence is that by hurting the system as a whole we will hurt ourselves, too. It is basically self-harm.

It is hard for one individual to change the world. But there is one area you can have a total, direct influence on – and this is YOU. Now imagine everybody would strive and be ‘the best version of themselves’ – can you see what a big impact that would have?

When you are healthy, happy and in balance, you radiate. Bizarrely this is most often ‘a mental state of mind’ and can – with a bit of exercise – achieved by anyone who is willing to work on themselves. Regardless of income, sex, or where they live.

Some people seem to have ‘everything’ – seen from the outside, but inside they are far from happy, balanced, and of course, don’t radiate.

The LWTM Holistic Lifestyle concept’s aim is to help you dig deep and rekindle this ‘spark’.

Once you know who you really are, then you can add activities from various sections.  For example Health and Beauty, Home and Garden, Relationships, and other topics. On the calendar, we keep these topics separated – as it is easier to look up more specific information, tips, and recipes.   But of course, all of these areas  form part of the overall LWTM Holistic Lifestyle and you can find out more when you download our FREEBIES 

The essence of a great lifestyle design is the way we arrange these areas and how we balance them.

When I was little, I was told  ‘You can have everything, but not all at the same time’. As a child, you don’t pay much attention to sayings like this. Only once I grew older (and hopefully wiser) did I realize how true this statement is. Even though I am still grappling with the 100% perfect formula for my own personal life. But at least I consider myself lucky to have been given a head start from a very young age when I was introduced to the Biodynamic philosophy and lifestyle.

The holistic lifegoal planner – will help you find an answer to the question – what is my life all about. We all have vague ideas of what we want to do. But once you drill down – what really does matters – many people find it difficult to reach a definite answer.

But I think this old system’s most under-rated strength is its usefulness when it comes to balancing the areas of your life. Once you are familiar with its formula and you personalize it to your own individual circumstances, this system will throw out dates, symbols, and suggestions of what to do on each day and how to structure and plan your life ahead!

If you are all new to this site and concept and are interested in how all this applies to you, please start by downloading our free introduction package LWTM freebies download link 

This of course does not mean that you have to blindly follow these suggestions.  But if you use the tools correctly,  all areas of your life will pull together in the same direction.  Over time a wholesome, well-balanced picture will emerge. This is a great life strategy and will give you tools to fine-tune and evaluate your life month-by-month and year-by-year.

Applied consistently and over time it will give you great results.

Here is the link again to welcome you to our small and friendly community.

 An Introduction to LWTM

Please click this link to find out more about LWTM and holistic lifestyle planning and  download our freebies 

 

What makes us human?

What makes us human?

       This is a question that undoubtfully all humans ask themselves at some point? I recently heard a talk about this subject and thought it was well worth exploring.  As I am currently working on the new calendar cycle and The Year Ahead,  when the famous question – what is it all about?  fleetingly raised its head. But was equally quickly succeeded by – What comes next and what are my plans for the year ahead?

It would be highly presumptuous of me to say that there is only one answer, of course, there is not. But the more I listen to experts who study primates in their natural environment and early human civilizations,  the boundaries between humans and animals are becoming ever clearer. Not that I see the human species in any way far more important or superior. The Biodynamic way of life sees all species, including plants, worms and even microbes in the soil as part of the WHOLE CYCLE and each play their unique part. But humans have qualities other species simply have not.

Over 70,000 years ago Neanderthals started to use instruments, discovered fire, and even played music. These ‘creative activities’ had not been seen before. This all got even more sophisticated around 48,000 B.C. when the  Cro-Magnons – the earliest humans- started to settle in today’s Europe and Africa.  Cave paintings and subsequently found tools show us what their civilization would have looked like and more importantly how they lived. Working with fire was by then well established, but this ‘new species’ showed creativity and the ability to plan ahead as no other species had done before.

In his book  The Pattern Seekers, Simon Baren-Cohen describes how humans became distinctly different from animals when they started to recognize patterns. And I would argue more importantly when they started to connect the dots. Animals tend to react, but humans plan ahead.

Initially, this ‘planning ahead’ was quite haphazard. But once early man discovered a predictably time-pattern in the sky, i.e. the cycle of the moon, ‘social planning’ became a lot easier. This was a big game-changer.  Once tribes knew how to operate these early time measuring tools – proper social planning was really on its way. Here you can find out more about how early humans created their first calendars. 

We know that humans were definitely collective beings right from the very start. And there is no reason to believe that this trend is slowing down. Just look at the very recent rise of social media and there is no doubt that humans thrive on collective interactions.

But then certain animal species, of course not all, also share this communal spirit.  Just look at how a pack of wolves or lions hunt together and share the prey (or fight over it!). Or how monkeys or whales come together and care for their young.

But what sets humans really apart is the communication of shared experiences. We do like events and we like to share them – live!
This has been the biggest impact of the  Coronavirus pandemic. It has taken away the ability to congregate, celebrate, and see ‘live events’ and share ‘in the flesh’-experiences? Technology has made great advances and I am sure we are all grateful for that. But ‘this common energy’ is missing. We don’t communicate just with words, there are so many unspoken cues that are impossible to pick up via a video screen.

I think once we are all vaccinated and free to mingle again,  we will treasure this ‘communal energy’ even more than we once did. Especially the senses of touch and smell, which have both been so neglected.

But until then the ‘virtual gatherings’ will prevail and I have finally taken the nudge and together with the new calendars, I have created a VIP Facebook group. At the moment this is on an ‘invitation only’ basis for some members.
But If you stumbled across Living With The Moon for the very first time, you are welcome to download our free introduction e-book by clicking the link below and maybe see you one day in our small, friendly and connected group.

 An Introduction to LWTM

Please click this link to find out more about LWTM and holistic lifestyle planning and  download our freebies 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biodynamic Bee-keeping

Biodynamic beekeeping

Here is some vital information I found on the Biodynamic Association website that explains a lot about biodynamic bee-keeping

Like humans, bees are creatures of warmth and maintain a constant temperature in their hive. This warmth helps bees to create wax for their comb, maintain their colony, and keep it healthy. It is also through this warmth that the colony finds its identity, each bee and bee activity integral to the whole. No single part, not even the queen, can be seen as isolated from the whole.

Modern beekeeping – what’s wrong?

As the Natural Beekeeping Trust explains, bees were held sacred in all ancient cultures. Their survival was assured over thousands of years. In the last 150 years this has changed dramatically.

Much of modern beekeeping, like intensive farming, is geared to maximum production, and, like modern agriculture, its husbandry relies on chemical solutions to man-made problems. This invariably results in exploitation, as the essential needs of bees are disregarded.

As the Natural Beekeeping Trust also explains, the systematic exploitation of bees has seen a huge increase in disease. Bees in captivity can suffer from parasitic infections and more than 20 viruses; many of these can infect honeybees and hoverflies. International trading in queen bees has resulted in the importation of exotic diseases. Added to this, the routine suppression of bees’ natural reproduction (by swarming) in favour of artificial breeding, practised for more than a hundred years, has resulted in impoverished bee genetics.

Here is how you can help ! The best way is to start planting relevant plants that attract and keep bees. These are explained in this excellent booklet called  Bees in crisis . 

It is time for us all to do our bit to save these wonderful animals and pollinators for generations to come.

Ileen Macpherson – a pinoneer of the biodynamic movement

Ileen Macpherson – a pinoneer of the biodynamic movement

Ileen Macpherson (1898-1984) was born in August 1898 in Australia. She attended Clyde School in St. Kilda (Melbourne) and as a young adult became increasingly interested in natural ways of producing food.
This interest brought her to regular Anthroposophy meetings, based on the early biodynamic philosophy by Rudolf Steiner .  Anthroposophy is a philosophy that combines natural science (such as biology) and the intellectually comprehensible spiritual world. It is rooted in German idealism and mysticism, but its essential message is respect for nature, development of the human being in an individual manner rather than a mass-educational approach und the connection of our
 micro universe to the universe as a whole. So according to Rudolf Steiner it makes sense to watch what the universe is doing (for example Full Moon and other celestial aspects in the sky) and connect them to tasks such as planting, weeding, turning the soil and else. Seeds of this philosophy are now found in ethnical banking, the Waldorf education and alternative medicine.
One of the speakers at these early Anthroposophy meetings in Melbourne was Ernesto Genoni, an Italian citizan who arrived in Australia in May 1926. A few years later Ernesto and Mrs Anne Macky started the Anthoroposophical Society and it is through these meetings at the Anthroposophical Society that Ileen meets Ernesto.
A year later the pair have plans to start the first biodynamic farm in Australia and they call this farm Demeter Farm (named after the the Demeter society, a brand that is still around today and that upholds the quality of biodynamic farming. Its name was taken from Demeter, the Greek goddess of grain and fertility). There Ileen and Ernesto perfected crop rotation, soil enrichment and the study of healthy plants and all organisms that are connected to the farm. The Biodynamic agriculture is a cycle where every part reinforces the entity as a whole. For example grass clipping and rotten food are turned into compost and this compost again fertilises the land where cows feed on its grass. In turn the cow’s horns and manure are then used to enrich the soil which then produces healthy plants and fruit trees.
In March 1935 the Demeter Farm in Dandenong, Victoria, finally opens and produced good quality biodynamic food on 40acres of land for over two decades.  The main crop was fruit, vegetables and milk. Soon after the opening Ileen and Ernesto found a group called the Experimental Circle of Anthroposophical Farmers and Gardeners’. 
 
This group soon becomes known for all ways of alternative farming in Australia and even Alfred Meebold comes to stay over for a fortnight. But just as things are going so well, tragedy strikes. Ileen, a very active person  in her early years and busy with long days farming and milking cows, became weaker and weaker. She still carried on as usual, but her conditions deteriorates and soon her legs gave way. In 1943 she was admitted to Epworth hospital where she spent on and off the next three years.
This was a bitter blow for Ernesto. Not only did he now have to carry out all the hard work on the farm, but he also had planned to go with Illen to Europe to join the Biodynamic movement, but all these plans were now nil and void.
In the end Ernesto stayed at the farm at at Ileen’s bedside.  When she was finally released in 1946  she would be confided to a wheel chair for the rest of her life. The cause was later revealed as pernicious anaemia (a lack of vitamin B12). Nowadays this condition is easy to cure, but in the 1940ies it often led to the patient’s death or life in a wheelchair.
Although Ileen tried her best with Ernesto to keep the farm alive, in the end her failing health was getting too much for Ernesto and the farm was sold in 1955. Ernesto started painting (the picture of Ileen above was painted by him) and Ileen, although now unable to practise it, never let go of the  biodynamic ideology. After her death in 1984 the Ileen Macpherson Trust still supports Anthroposophic causes in Australia.