About a dozen years ago I heard a farmer present the results of his work on his decades-old biodynamic farm in Australia. He showed slides of the massive pit they had dug in which they laid dozens of cow horns filled with manure, which were used to “enliven” the fields. He shared how they made the biodynamic preparations that are at the heart of the biodynamic process. These preps stimulated calcium uptake by the plants, as well as root and fruit development, and others strengthened the plants against various diseases. But the main thing that stuck with me were the slides he showed of an insect on his farm that had been declared extinct a decade earlier.
The farmer said he had heard such a thing was possible, but it was another thing to see this phenomenon with his own eyes and to document the re-introduction of this insect. One could only sit back in wonder and awe. Of course, it is possible that the insect wasn’t really extinct, that its numbers had just declined to an undetectable level. Still, this story is especially poignant as news headlines are full of stories documenting the rapid rate of extinction of the plants, insects and animals in today’s world.
Is it possible, though, as Rudolf Steiner suggested, that if one diligently works to increase the life forces on our land, not only will we get healthier food, but we’ll also coax certain species back into existence? Only time will tell if such a thing, which admittedly makes little sense to our “scientifically schooled minds,” is actually a reality.
When I refer to the quest of Dr. Cowan’s Garden to source beyond-organic produce as the raw material for our vegetable powders, I am referring to this hard-to-define quality that Steiner referred to as the life force of the farm. Although we might not be able to define it, it’s something those with sensitivity can feel. When one steps into the world of a biodynamic garden, a permaculture homestead, or a natural gardening place (along the lines of the book The One-Straw Revolution), one can feel this increased life force. The best therapy for the fatigue that comes along with my 62-year-old life is to spend time in the Napa garden. The sun, the connection to the living earth, the herbs, flowers, colors and smells are all components of this energy that permeates a well-tended garden. It is nothing like the disheartening feeling one gets from the farms of modern agriculture.
Whether we can resurrect species thought to be extinct, whether we can participate in a true regeneration of the living earth, whether we can create a truly sustainable economy based (as any economy must be) on the health of the soil, we can, at least, make an attempt to join this restoration movement. That is one of our core goals at DCG.
We would love to hear your stories of the living farms in your community and the small miracles each of us sees nearly every day.
With warmth and gratitude,
Tom Cowan, M.D.
If you look around your local farmers market, you will almost certainly see large heads of cabbage. If your favorite organic farm doesn’t already sell them, buy whatever medley of root vegetables they have, and use those instead. Homemade sauerkraut, kimchi or fermented root vegetables are a treat, and with refrigeration can last well into fall and beyond.
For this project, a special piece of equipment that I use, and you should as well, comes in very handy: a fermentation crock.
One of the first things to be finished in our garden will be our herb and rose garden. Created from the existing rock garden beds surrounding our patio, it will have sage, thyme, rosemary, summer savory, oregano — to name just a few herbs — as well as five large rose bushes. The beautiful pink and yellow lilies will remain. We got a good start on it this past weekend, unperturbed by the requirement to dig up some old shrubs and their roots.