Tablehurst Farm is a biodynamic farm. There is no quick and easy way to fully understand biodynamics and only real interest and a little time brings one closer to a deeper understanding of the matter.
However, there are some key facts that can be easily explained:
–Biodynamic farming and organic farming share a lot at first sight: prohibited are mineral fertilizers, preventative use of allopathic medication and pesticides as well as GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) in both cases. But biodynamic farming goes much further: its main aim is to grow food full of vitality and not just food free of toxins.
-Biodynamic farming means to create a self-sustained organism where fertility and the feeds for the animals come from the farm itself rather than being bought in. Whenever we have to buy in a larger proportion of the feeds, as is the case with our poultry, the enterprise is organic, not biodynamic. The self-sustained organism makes it necessary for most farms to be diverse: grass is grown for soil fertility and is eaten by cattle and sheep. Their manure is used to fertilize vegetables and grain, the straw from the grain is used to bed the animals during the winter. Since nothing should be bought in, the right balance of grassland, land for vegetables and grain and the number of different types of animals has to be found.
–Biodynamic farms take interactions between the cosmos (moon, planets etc.) and the earth into consideration. There is plenty of evidence for these interactions, starting with the moon and the tides, but also much more subtle interactions such as the effects of planetary movements on plant growth. For this reason we do certain things at certain times of the year which has an effect on the quality of our produce. To learn more about this click here
–Biodynamic farms use preparations based on quartz (silica), cow manure and different herbs (yarrow, dandelion, nettle, oak bark, valerian) applied in homeopathic or small doses.
Quartz and cow manure preparations are stirred in water for an hour and sprayed on the fields at least once a year. The former (quartz) promotes plant growth and has a specific effect on the nutritional quality and regenerative power of plants, the latter (cow manure) promotes soil health and the root development of plants.
The 5 plant based preparations are put into the compost we make on the farm. They aid the processes of decomposition. All preparations facilitate the various interactions between the cosmic forces mentioned above and the earth, soil and plants directly. There is plenty of research on the effects of the preparations. The enhanced quality and vitality of a biodynamic product can be made visible through different picture creating methods such as “sensitive crystallization”.
–Biodynamic farms have highest environmental and animal welfare standards. The aim of biodynamic farming is to treat the environment, plants and animals the way they should naturally be treated with the result that the products of this farming method are healthier and contain more “vitality”. The “biodynamic production standards”, in our case issued by the Biodynamic Association, demand the highest animal welfare standards of all organic certification bodies. This is particularly true regarding housing and outdoor space. De-horning od cows and artificial insemination (AI) is usually not allowed.
–The biodynamic farm organism in itself has a low carbon footprint. No chemicals and fertilizers have to be produced, no long-distance transport of materials and livestock is needed. The careful management of the land and the intent to increase soil organic matter sequesters carbon, especially on grassland.
–Biodynamic farms create jobs. The diversity of the farms as a result of the self-sustained organism usually leads to small scale production with supply to local markets. This in return creates a higher need for labour. Tablehurst Farm for example employs around 20 full time staff, farming only 280ha.
–Is biodynamic produce more expensive? The high level of diversity also means that our produce is more expensive than produce from larger, less diverse and more mechanised farms. Tablehurst would sell most of its farm produce at a loss would we not subsidise the farm, farmers and gardeners by adding value to our produce through processing and direct marketing. We also run a care home that adds financially and socially to the farm. However we keep our prices as low as we can because we believe that everyone should have access to food of biodynamic quality. Our biggest reward is the good feeling to do something with meaning, something that makes sense and of course the appreciation of our produce by our customers.
It is for that reason that we would like you to understand what is behind the produce you buy in the shop and that we hope this brochure explains why our produce is only seemingly expensive. Biodynamic food has long term health benefits, especially if you include it into a healthy diet and a good lifestyle. It does not damage the environment. The price for cheap, low quality, processed food today not only threatens your health it will also turn into a cost for future generations which will have to repair the damages caused by industrial agriculture.
–Biodynamic farms put “culture” back into Agriculture. Biodynamic farms have nothing to hide and are mostly open to visitors. Especially the younger generations are very interested in what we do and on Tablehurst we accommodate students, volunteers, school classes, visitors, trainees and many others on the farm throughout the year in return for a little help or a voluntary donation. We believe that farms also have a cultural and educational task. For this reason we host a number of events throughout the year, most of them for free as is the access to most parts of the farm. We also integrate people with learning disabilities into the daily routines of the farm. It is in our interest to help create at least some knowledge related to food production and processing to empower everyone who comes into contact with us to make informed decisions.