Biodynamic vs organic methods of food growing, is there a difference or are they pretty much different names for the same thing?
The organic method is ecologically oriented. It tries to replace an overly complex, laboratory-oriented approach with a common sense approach which the ordinary gardener and farmer can relate to.
In many cases, the organic approach tries to understand how Nature does things, for “Nature knows best,” and then tries to do gardening and farming in the most natural manner possible. Insects and diseases are combated by the use of nature’s own remedies (ladybugs, trichogramma, preying mantises, garlic and pepper sprays, etc.). The aim is healthy soil for healthy plants for healthy men and animals.
Biodynamics is also ecologically orientated, but takes a much wider scope into account, including the sun, the moon, planets and subterranean features, in its effort to understand the totality of all factors. The mental factor is also considered. Biodynamics, though not disparaging of common sense, is concerned essentially with consciousness-expansion in regard to plants, animals and soil. The attempt is made to look into the deeper spirit of nature. Out of this deeper awareness, based on exquisite observation of nature, the approach calls for not letting things run their natural course, but for intensifying certain natural processes (creating optimal animal populations, making special compost preparations, planting selected companion plants at certain cosmic constellations), aiding nature where she is weak after so many centuries of abuse, short-cutting destructive processes, and using human intelligence, kindness and good will to foster positive developments (planting hedges for birds, planting bee pastures, etc.).
Biodynamics is a human service to the earth and its creatures, not just a method for increasing production or for providing healthy food. The healthful and bountiful abundance is, so to speak, a natural result of the right view of and treatment of nature. Healthful food is not enough to save humanity; the question is, what are the energies provided by the good food going to be used for? Fighting bugs and disease-prevention are not major concerns for biodynamics as they are for the chemical farming method where tons of poisons are used to ‘solve’ the problem, or for the organic method, where natural organic techniques are used for the war on bugs.
Biodynamics can be summed up as: Putting one’s energies into supporting the good, rather than into fighting the bad. Low productivity, insects and disease are not the problem, they are the symptoms. Spraying bugs ground up in a blender, using trichogramma wasps, etc. is treating the symptom, whereas building the soil and one’s relationship to the land is treating the problem.
Culture and Horticulture A Philosophy of Gardening by Wolf D. Storl
PS: I have worked with biodynamic methods in our food
growing spaces for 23 years now. Our next workshop Enhancing your organic garden with biodunamics on November 2-3 deals with all elements of this wonderful piece from Wolf Storl’s book. You can also find some introductory material on our biodynamics page here.