By Kelly Newton-Wordsworth BJuris LLB(BLaws)
(Housewife, mother, international performing and recording artist, composer,
author, environmental and humanitarian activist) With thanks to William Newton-
Wordsworth, for his valuable assistance in the writing of this article.
What is “biodynamic farming?”
For any person who has never heard of “Biodynamic” agriculture, I would love
to give you an introduction in a “nutshell”, so that you can become a passionate
‘biodynamic’ enthusiast after reading this article! Biodynamic agriculture is a
huge passion for myself my husband and our family. It is also becoming a
passion for a growing number of people throughout the world. Probably the main
reason for our great enthusiasm, is that we have been able to bring “life” to the
soil and grow food without poisons for around 30 years. Also it is a truly
sustainable way of farming, not just with small areas of land but it can be done on
a much larger scale. We are now the longest running broad acre biodynamic
farmers in Western Australia farming around 3,000 acres since 1987.
Biodynamic farming was developed by the Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner
and introduced to the world in 1924. It was the foundation of the “organic
movement” in agriculture internationally. Prior to the 20 th century, all food was
grown “organically”, without artificial inputs and chemicals for controlling pests
and weeds. With the introduction of the methods used in modern conventional
farming, biodynamic and organic methods became known as “alternative
Having been a biodynamic farmer now, since the late 80’s, I would say the “nut
shell” description of what we do, is that we gather cow manure (from only our
own cows) and pour the manure into empty cow-horns. We then bury the horns
under the ground for a few months during the winter. When we remove the
manure from the horns, the substance that once was ‘simply’ cow manure has
transformed into what is known as “500”. (It is called “500” because there are 500
million living bacteria in one gram of this material. Many agronomists are now
speaking about the importance of “microbes” leading to much healthier soil. The
application of 500, results in a quantum leap in microbe activity in the soil. This in
turn leads to a major increase in the health and vitality of the soil, which of course
leads to the same in the foods grown in this soil.)
The cow manure after it has become ‘500’ changes and smells sweet. It is no
longer like cow manure and more like compost. However, it is also not like
compost. You can hold it in your hand, and it feels spongy. It is black in colour
and you can roll it to form it into a ball.
One hand full of this “500” mixed with a quantity of water and stirred in a
container in a specific way for one hour is enough “activator” to spray one acre of
land. The results we are achieving in many ways are astonishing from the
perspective of not only the health and vigour of our pastures and the animals, but
also the profitability of our farming operation.
From the consumer’s point of view though, I know people who are looking to eat
‘clean’ food would be very interested to know a lot more about what is happening
in the production of their food and also what is happening in the environment in
which they live. How “clean” is the food being purchased by people all over the
Would you choose to eat ‘Biodynamic food’ as opposed to conventionally
grown food ?
Please humour me for a moment, and ask your self a simple question. If you
were given the choice between eating foods, which were grown in the following
two completely different ways, which would you choose for the health of yourself
and your family?(If you are interested in letting us know, and perhaps being
interviewed, please email us. We would be very grateful for your answers)
Eat food that was grown with a cocktail of poisons (herbicides, pesticides,
fungicides), chemicals, “potentially” Genetically modified organisms (there
is almost no labelling so far of these foods in international markets) and
artificial toxic fertilisers potentially containing heavy metals.
Eat food that was grown with a life-giving bacteria, derived only from cow
manure collected from a biodynamic/organic farm. This food has been
produced with NO poisons, chemicals or toxic fertilisers, only a substance
which brings life to the soils in which the food is grown and therefore brings life
to the foods to be consumed. Biodynamic foods are also grown with natural
fertilisers as required.
I imagine that if you are a sane human being and truly care about your health in
the short and long term, you would choose to eat Biodynamic/Organic food.
Do consumers really have the choice?
The difference between having this opportunity to “choose” in this hypothetical
situation, and what is happening out in the real world, is that most people have
no idea of the way in which their food is being grown. There is no labelling of
what farmers are using to grow their produce, on produce and products, except
when the label states that food is grown, “biodynamically” or “organically”. I have
not so far found produce in most shops that state which chemicals or fertilisers
were used to grow the products I am buying in any shops I have been to around
Therefore effectively people have little or NO real choice as to the products they
are buying and therefore eating, unless they buy “biodynamic or organic” foods. If
anyone can help me to find produce that is stating the chemicals, drenches,
hormones or fertilisers that have been used in the production of any product from
conventional agriculture, please contact me and let me know.
Those who are very conscious of the foods they are eating for themselves and
their families, tend to discover the power and uniqueness of biodynamic produce
after a time. It is still a method of growing food that is not so well known
throughout the world, but the awareness of the benefits of eating this produce is
growing exponentially internationally.
The practice of biodynamic agriculture is allowing consumers to eat foods that
are ‘life enhancing’, therefore helping to bring increased health and wellbeing to
the consumers who buy and eat biodynamically grown foods. Organically grown
foods are also grown without the use of artificial fertilisers, hormones, chemical
drenches, chemicals and so on.
In this way, biodynamic agriculture is similar to organic farming. In another way
though, biodynamic agriculture is completely different to organic farming. Organic
farmers tend to use more composted manures, both animal and plant.
Biodynamic farmers are using the preparations such as ‘500’ to spray out over
the land and the living bacteria, does the work to bring life to the soil. Natural
rock phosphates and minerals tend to be used in places where particularly in
Western Australia our soils tend to be very mineral deficient.
When anyone really looks at the implications of the fact that we can grow
amazingly healthy and tasty foods, from one handful of ‘500’ to the acre, together
with occasional natural organic inputs, biodynamic agriculture can only be
described as a miraculous, life-enhancing, world changing, precious blessing to
The fact that this method of looking after the land has not spread world wide very
quickly, can perhaps be attributed to the possibility that it stands as a major
threat to modern conventional practices of agriculture, where huge multi-national
companies market and promote to farmers world wide, that poisons and artificial
fertilisers are essential in the production of food and falsely claim that they are
The modern pretext that it is ‘impossible to grow food without chemicals and
artificial fertilisers’ has been promoted for more than fifty years throughout
schools, universities and agricultural colleges. These words have been spoken
and promoted for a long enough time that many farmers quote this saying as a
fact, instead of a theory.
The theory of modern conventional chemical based agriculture, was founded by
a German scientist Dr Liebig. This can of course be turned around to Dr “big lie”.
The chemical companies grabbed his theories of the advantages of growing food
with chemically processed water-soluble fertilisers and ran with them.
He said this way of farming would lead to farmers having bigger yields. By the
time he was realising that his theory was faulty, in that while there were
increased yields unfortunately the application of the artificial chemically
processed fertilisers (which are made with substances like sulphuric acid) lead to
more acidic and unhealthy soils.
The plants and animals grown on these soils were not as healthy and the food
did not taste as good. By this time, it was too late to stop the movement of multi-
national companies who were producing and marketing these products to
farmers in the pursuit of ever increasing profits.
We now know many farmers who have told us that they will not let their wives
and families go anywhere near the canola paddocks. Why? We have met
beekeepers whose hives have been wiped out after farmers have sprayed the
canola. We know canola growers who use a chemical that they have told us is
banned all over the world but still used here in Western Australia. We have met
fruit growers who have told us they will not let their families go near their packing
sheds and they have an organic orchard for their families. What is going on
Biodynamic agriculture is seen to be a very “alternative” method of farming in the
modern world. My husband William and I have been growing food in a successful
commercial way on an almost 3,000 acre property in Williams Western Australia
Many farmers have said to us that it is not possible to grow food without
chemicals and artificial fertilisers. Almost 30 years ago, one of these farmers said
to us, that our farm would be “barren” in ten years. That farmer has now sold his
farm due to increased debt and decreased productivity along with others who
made similar comments.
On our land, “Boraning”, (which in the local indigenous dialect, means “place of
spiritual wisdom”), we grow biodynamic beef, lamb, oats, olive oil, table olives,
pistachios, many fruits and vegetables, breed horses for horse sports and live a
life that people probably don’t even know is possible to live in the modern world.
We have an eco-tourism business, a music business, a Christian community and
now a church that meets every Sunday in our Café.
We live a “biodynamic” life full of amazing surprises, travel internationally to take
part in concerts, speaking engagements, events and have a wide variety of
exciting activities every day. Biodynamic agriculture is caring for the land on
which we live. We can eat the food we grow with happiness knowing the way in
which it has been grown, and walk across the land with a feeling of warmth that
is even ‘beyond’ the light of the sun.
The passion for living that comes from knowing that the way we are growing food
is right for ourselves, our family, friends and all of the people who buy our
produce is the one of the main answers to “WHY” we farm biodynamically.
Something money can’t buy is the happiness that comes from this lifestyle.