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.
Now that you know how to create your own sourdough starter, it’s time to make your first loaf of bread. Make sure your starter has been “fed” consistently for at least a few days beforehand. You will also need some sort of baking vessel, such as a combo cooker or a Dutch oven; a large bowl; bench knife or dough scraper; and a razor for scoring. Once you are ready to begin, make a rough bake plan, either written down or just in your head.
From the beginning of Dr. Cowan's Garden four years ago, we wanted to establish close relationships with organic and Biodynamic farms. Additionally, we have had a vision of sustainable farming that could be realized only by thinking “local” and “small.”
To that end, as we shared in March, we helped Redrange Farm in Pennsylvania achieve Demeter certification.