Earth Haven Farm BLOG
Biodynamic Preparations

The Fellowship of Preparation Makers

By Karen Davis-Brown

Originally published in the Winter 2011 issue of Biodynamics.

This spring marks the tenth anniversary of the first gathering of North American biodynamic prepmakers. These gatherings were born out of a shared concern that the quantity and quality of available preparations be sustained and improved in support of the larger biodynamic movement at all levels. 

Ten years later, the structures designed to fulfill this mission have evolved into 1) an annual conference hosted at locations across the continent, 2) four “interest” groups who meet by phone on a regular basis between conferences, and, recently, 3) an email newsletter designed to share regional news and activities.

The mission of the Fellowship of Prepmakers can be articulated in terms of assuring availability, access, and quality of biodynamic preparations. Accomplishing this mission is only possible when we successfully broaden and deepen our 1) awareness, 2) knowledge, 3) commitment, and 4) planning in consistent, sustained ways. Building these capacities within the Fellowship will, in turn, support the best possible:

  • Outreach to conventional, organic, and biodynamic growers;
  • Access to Materials that balances the “local” ideal with adequate, quality amounts;
  • Training that effectively conveys and supports our best knowledge about how the preparations can be grown, produced, applied, and distributed, and that is provided in ways that allow for differences in geography, geology, and climate;
  • Manufacture of adequate amounts of quality preps as close as possible to where they will be used;
  • Distribution processes and systems that address issues of access;
  • A system that has the capacity to meets the growing needs of growers and producers seeking Biodynamic Certification;
  • Thoroughly and systematically documented Evaluation of preparation effectiveness;
  • Research that honors both scientific evidence and community-based experience;
  • Networking of preparation users, makers, distributors, educators, and certifiers; and
  • Formal and informal vehicles of Communication within and across these different groups that utilize the most efficient and effective media and dissemination methods.

We live in times that demand a food revolution, and the Fellowship of Prepmakers can play a substantive role. What does this mean and how will it “play out”? How would achieving these objectives transform agriculture on this continent? Stay tuned.

If you are interested in learning more, or in joining one or more of the interest groups, please contact:

Education: Natalie Brinkley, natalie_brinkley
Conference Planning: Lloyd Nelson, drnelson
Quality and Testing: Malcolm Gardner, malcolm9
Subgroup 2 (Availability/Access): Wali Via, walivia

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Biodynamic Preps for Drought

by  | Dec 22, 2016 

How certain notions arise and become entrenched is a bit of a mystery, especially when they are wrong. Yet they do get started and entrenched. One of these is the belief that when things dry up and little moisture is available we cannot put out biodynamic preparations—as if these were delicate microbial cultures that must have moist conditions to establish and thrive. This is so far from true it seems impossible it ever got started. Yet it did.

When things dry up with rain months away is when we most need to apply our field sprays. When the organization of moisture in the atmosphere is at its lowest is when we need to enliven both atmosphere and soil to get them working together. In a drought nothing else does so much good for so little effort.

During summer, evaporation is high. Moisture rises up into the troposphere and as it cools it glides downward toward the polar vortex, flowing like a river in the sky to the pole. Variations in the jet stream determine where and when this river feeds moisture into storm fronts that drop—or fail to drop—summer rainfall. And yet, what organizes things in general, but particularly moisture, is life—and life activities is what biodynamics is about.

Organization is the basis of life, and life defies the rules for inanimate objects. Life draws organization out of chaos into more life. Biodynamic preparations are so rich in life they draw organization into wherever they are applied. The very reason we can impart life by stirring up tiny doses of preparations in water and sprinkling them over large areas is because life energy flows from lower to higher concentration. When we spray an area and enrich its vitality, more life energy, i.e. organization, flows to the area sprayed.  The more we spray an area, the more strongly that area draws in organization from the surrounding universe.

Back in 1988 a small group of biodynamic farmers held the first Southeast US Biodynamic Conference at my farm in Blairsville, Georgia. Hugh Courtney, who founded the Josephine Porter Institute of Applied Biodynamics (JPI), came from Virginia to lead workshops on making and applying biodynamic preparations. The attendees all stirred and applied every preparation to my farm despite the whole southeast being in summer drought. Out of the blue a summer thunderstorm drenched us thoroughly. Courtney went back home and did the same thing at JPI and the summer drought was history. The next summer the same thing happened at our second conference, also breaking a summer drought. By then Hugh Courtney had given preparation workshops at various widespread locations. In every case, rain—or at least technical precipitation—occurred when all the preparations were applied in a back-to-back sequence. Courtney explained to me, Harvey Lisle and others that he believed the preparations could draw to themselves whatever was needed to make life thrive, including moisture.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload::]]This was the beginning of what Courtney later called Sequential Spraying. At first we didn’t know that preparations could break droughts, but experience demonstrated applying all the preparations in sequence gave us the most gratifying results.

I have applied this technique with favorable outcomes on many occasions since. It seems to work best if launched when the moon is in a water or earth constellation at the approach to full moon, so use the Astro calendar and plan ahead to get the right amount of rain (rather than a flood).

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A Sick Earth Needs Medicine: (and Biodynamic Preparations are Indigenous Microorganisms)

by STEWART on DECEMBER 10, 2014

The biodynamic preparations are composted medicinal herbs. If these plants can stimulate animal health, how much more plant health and yet more microbial life? Hugh Courtney of Earth Legacy Agriculture, LLC urges people — really against his own financial interests — to make their own preparations. He does so because he is far more interested in what the preparations do than in money. But why? Can’t you just buy the preparations? Of course you can. But if you make your own, they are Indigenous Microorganisms (IMOs) which are uniquely suited to your land. You can import organisms, carefully prepared by others, but the ideal is for the farm to produce its own fertility.

Photo:  Fermenting our own BD500 “Horn Manure” which will develop our own Indigenous Microorganisms (IMOs) and provide a fundamental medicine for the Earth.

A healthy body does not need medicine. All a healthy body needs is healthy food. But a sick body needs medicine. In the same way, a healthy Earth does not need medicine. But our Earth is sick. Our Earth needs medicine. The biodynamic preparations are medicines for healing the Earth. Organic food might help prevent you from getting sick, but it is not enough to heal a seriously diseased body. Organic practices are simply not enough to heal the Earth.

There are some people who might question the need for medicine. There are others who deny that the Earth is sick. But the soundness of biodynamic medicine will resonate with many of us, and the facts will validate their insight.

Even someone who knows nothing as yet about directed compost fermentation must needs admit that certain well-known and well-described bacteria and yeasts play an important role in other fields of fermentation, in cheese, in milk (yogurt and Acidophilus), in wine, and in bread. Modern techniques in these fields do not permit accidental inoculation to take place but introduce quite specific cultures in order to achieve their specific ends. American wines of a Bordeaux, or Rhine, or Burgundy, or Riesling type are only possible because certain specific cultures have been used. Bread made from dough inoculated quite by chance with wild yeast would be quite unpalatable. It is the typical baker’s yeast which makes the dough rise and results in edible bread. To deny, therefore, to the composting process, that such specific microorganisms could be found and used which direct its proper fermentation is a retrogressive and not a progressive concept – inasmuch as experience has already shown that it works, wherever and whenever adequate knowledge and skills are applied.” Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Bio-Dynamic Gardening and Farming, pg. 106.

Most of our soils, even what appear to be productive soils, are deteriorating. A new form of agriculture must arise to meet the new challenges facing Humanity. The biodynamic preparations are financially affordable, applied as herbal teas to your soils. Most of our soils are sick. None of them are as good as they could be. At this point in human development, the Earth’s soils are tired and need to be stimulated by gentle herbal medicines.

For the first years, it makes sense to me to purchase the biodynamic preparations from a reliable source. In my case, I buy them from Hugh Courtney at Earth Legacy Agriculture, LLC. They are not “indigenous” to my farm, but they are fermented here in Virginia. I have been using the biodynamic preparations for two seasons now, and this fall we buried our first BD500 “Horn Manure” using organic and 100% grass-fed cow manure from a lactating cow. We have our friends to thank for the manure.

The buried manure is “sensitized” and develops a unique relationship with the quality of your own soil. What develops there are Indigenous Microorganisms (IMOs), and ones ideally suited to forming stable humus.

There might be some benefit to importing the medicinal “inoculants” until the soil has begun to heal and can better produce its own preparations. On the other hand, perhaps the forces necessary to heal your soil are already there.

As Rudolf Steiner says, “A thoroughly healthy farm should be able to produce within itself all that it needs.” Since few farms today are “thoroughly healthy” they should look to healthy farms with composted medicinal herbs (“preparations”) to assist their return to health.

Steiner said: “The benefits of the bio-dynamic compost preparations should be made available as quickly as possible to the largest possible areas of the entire earth, for the earth’s healing.”

To me, it seems like we are on the verge of a catastrophic future where soils are dying. If we continue on this trajectory, we may enter a new Dust Bowl, as Ken Burns suggests in his recent documentary. If this does happen, where will the biological life come from to heal the ruined Earth? It will arise from organic and biodynamic farms and radiate outward as knowledge radiated out from monasteries after the Dark Age. There is nothing more important we can be doing now. The most important place to be is not with like minds, but surrounded by the very soils that need to be healed. Even with pesticides drifting onto your land, the preparations cultured on your farm will learn to metabolize these poisons. How else will deadened soils be rejuvenated?

From organic and biodynamic farms will radiate new life, whether or not we change the trajectory our food system has set for itself. We are creating the future for Humanity. Our project is cosmic in scope and is not limited by whether or not we avert the impending storm. We can hope that Humanity changes its ways so the good work of recolonizing neighboring soils can begin all the sooner. If Humanity doesn’t manage to change its ways and avert its catastrophe, our work is already in place, ready to repair what is broken.


Tagged as: BD500, biodynamics, Hugh Courtney, IMO, Indigenous Microorganisms, microbes, Pfeiffer Field Spray, preparations, Rudolf Steiner, soil

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Biodynamic Compost
Biodynamic compost is a fundamental component of the biodynamic method; it serves as a way to recycle animal manures and organic wastes, stabilize nitrogen, and build soil humus and enhance soil health. Biodynamic compost is unique because it is made with BD preparations 502-507. Together, the BD preparations and BD compost may be considered the cornerstone of biodynamics. Here again, "biological" and "dynamic" qualities are complementary: biodynamic compost serves as a source of humus in managing soil health and biodynamic compost emanates energetic frequencies to vitalize the farm. 

The traditional manner in which the biodynamic compost is made is rather exacting. After the compost windrow is constructed, Preparations 502-506 are strategically placed 5-7 feet apart inside the pile, in holes poked about 20 inches deep. Preparation No. 507, or liquid valerian, is applied to the outside layer of the compost windrow by spraying or hand watering. 
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