BIODYNAMIC FARM, Education Center of R.STEINER Foundation
Maria Cecilia Medina Gutierrez
On July 25, 2005, we were welcomed by Prof. Barbara Kowalkowska, president of the Demeter Association Poland, the agrar engineer in charge of the farm and other personalities.
The biodynamic farm in Pradocin is one of the three farms certified by Demeter International in Poland. It had four years of convertion and was accepted two years ago as converted. Here are also the headquarters of the Demeter Poland Assotiation and the Rudolf Steiner Foundation. In the house there are rooms for students, classrooms and a big dining room by the kitchen. Our dinner and breakfast were prepared by three women of the region. It was very tasty, because of the fresh vegetables from the farm. That night there was a big fire prepared for us to seat around and exchange our impressions.
The farm covers an area of 54 ha, in a region geographically known as Dunes of Forest. There are 14 km2 of forest near the farm. The basins’ border of the rivers Odra and Vistula are also near the farm border. Irrigation systems with dunes and channels that existed before World War II were destroyed during the comunist system. The soils are noted with 5,6 (in a range from 1 for a good and 6 for worse), pH is 4. The water is high in iron (20 mg Fe/lt). The location has 400 mm rain in a year. The farm has its own water purifying system. After being cleaned the water flows into a little purification pond.
The production in the farm is divided as follows: 25 ha meadow, 5 ha vegetables (carrots, parsley, cabbage, cucumber, beans). The rest is used for potatoes, animal fooder, pasture for silage with white clover (Trifolium repens), cereals (triticale, rye, spelt). The seven year rotation includes 3 years of pasture with clover. Some plants included in the rotation are lupin, mustard, and phacelia. The soil is kept covered most of the time.
There is a wooden construction designed as observation tower and for mixing the preparations. It consists of 2 pine wooden barrels with a stirring device. From this point you can see the homegarden, the orchard, the greenhouses and the fields.
In the greenhouses tomatoes were growing. The variety was obtained in a german Demeter farm and was choosen for their taste. It is not suitable for transport. The tomatoes were planted with paprika, beetroot and cellery, in order to achieve allelopatic effects. Normally the producion of plants begins in March. The seeds are planting firstly in wooden recipients. The plantlings are raised then on a substrat with compost. There was an oven in the greenhouse we visited.
The main part of the vegetable production is used in the kitchen of the Rudolf Steiner Center, which also buys products from other organic farms. Often, products are sent to other markets like Germany. Because of the low income in Poland, people cannot pay the high prices of biodynamic products.
Near the greenhouses there were the compost piles, one of them with a pumpking plant growing on it. Generally the composts are treated in a different way according to the time of the year, being the humity one important factor.Water is added when the weather is too hot. There are different compost types for vegetables and for the fields.
The animals kept in the farm are Jersey and Polish Black and White cows (polish-Crovinska). The milk is sold to a conventional milk processor and the meat to an organic meat processor. The cow manure produced is used as the activator in the preparations.
The most important personalities in biodynamic agriculture in Poland were Stanisław Karłowski (who assisted to Steiner´s Agricultural Course in 1924) and Julian Osetek. They initiated the biodynamic agriculture in Poland. Nowadays the Rudolf Steiner Center works following the international biodynamic reglamentations.
Biodynamic agriculture uses organic ecological agriculture as its base. Although there is no "definitive" definition of what biodynamic farming is or is not, it currently is described by objective standards rather than systems. Crucially biodynamic farming treats the farm as a whole and aims to keep a balance between animals and plants. The farm is considered as one organism. Within biodynamic agriculture much use is made of working with the rhythms of nature, for example the light of sun, moon, planets and stars, and of working with preparations.
The moon calender includes other planetary cycles as well. Various phases of the moon (waxing and waning) will have terrestrial effects; accordingly the principle parts of plants (roots, leaves and flowers) are affected. Certain types of plants are sown or transplanted at particular times. In this farm, some positive results are being observed, for example in plants sown on „seed days“ and harvested on „fruit days“.
The preparations were developed by Rudolf Steiner .They were mentioned in his Agricultural Course in 1924. At the beginning they were referred to with cover names like 500 for hornmist (horn filled with mist) and 501 for hornkiesel (horn filled with silica SiO2), which remain in use until now. The aim of the preparations is to enhance the soil quality and stimulate plant life. Preparations are made through the year in a certain season following special recipes, with elements coming form plants, animals and minerals.
The 500 hornmist is prepared as follows: cow manure is used to fill a cow horn (a discarded one), dug into the soil on St, Michael's day (Michaelmass) 29th September, and harvested on the Day of St. John (Midsummer Day) 24th June. After 3-4 months this preparation is ready for use. One handfull of the pure mixture (the quantity in the horn) is diluted in water (the portion in one horn is given to the quantity of water necessary to cover 0,25 ha). The water used must be clean water from the well, tap water or rain water. The water temperature must be 36-38 °C. When this mixture is stirred it is necessary to create a vortex in the water, first stirring in one direction, then in the other, slowly, rhythmically and always maintaining the vortex. This preparation should applied in the autumm and at the beginning of the growing season, during the afternoon (evening) and under cloudy sky. Large drops should be applied, so that conventional sprayer nozzles are not suitable. The horn manure preparation has effect on the soil and on the root systems of the plant. Due to the smell all the positive soil organisms are attracted to the surface and help incorporate the preparation into the soil as a means of improvement.
There is a second horn preparation, the horn-silica (powdered quartz packed inside a cow horn and buried in the soil for six months through spring and sommer). For the application of this preparation fog is created. Atomised spray is applied in the morning for effective absorption by leaves, stems etc. during the day. Care has to be taken that one does not spray before rainfall as this would wash the preparation away. This preparation is applied to grain crops (cereals) at 10-15 cms and sprayed on two consecutive days in a two week period.
Some preparations are used in the compost. After the compost pile is ready, preparations are strategically placed inside the pile with an wooden stock. Some of these are:
- 502 Yarrow blossoms (Achillea millefolium)
- 503 Chamomile blossoms (Chamomilla officinalis)
- 504 Stinging nettle (Urtica dioca)
- 505 Oak bark (Quercus robur)
- 506 Dandelion flowers (Taraxacum officinale)
- 507 Valerian flowers (Valeriana officinalis)
The valerian preparation is a liquid, and is therefore sprayed or hand watered.
Another preparation to protect the plant against fungal diseases is the preparation from horseteilplant (Equisetum arvense), 508.
The preparations are kept in glasses within in a wooden box filled with peat. It is recomeneded not to storage the preparations along with vegetables.
Association Demeter – Polsk
86-060 Nowa Wieś Wielka
Phone: 0048 52 3812439
Fax: 0048 52 3206700