Lasting Impressions and Reflections from the Biodynamic National Conference
By Mary Guthrie
** Don’t miss the slideshow at the end of this post! **
Ever since I can remember, there has been a yearning in my soul to put my hands in the soil of the Earth. Thankfully, my soul’s yearning for soil connection has been nurtured throughout my life. Early in childhood I developed awareness for sustainable agriculture during visits to my grandparents’ dairy farm in Pennsylvania.
When my grandfather closed his dairy he continued to raise animals. He used the manure from his livestock on the vegetable gardens. He planted crops according to how the air smelled and what the land looked like on that particular day. It was this innate connection he had to his farm that fueled my interest concerning soil and soul growth. Although a term like biodynamic would have caused his head to spin, he created a beautiful living farm organism by listening to his inner self, the animals he raised, and the land to which he devoted most of his life.
In recent years my interest in sustainable agriculture led to my first biodynamic course with Mac Mead, the program director at the Pfeiffer Center in New York. Mac provided me with inspiration to pursue and support biodynamic agriculture and anthroposophy. As one could imagine, a warm smile of gratitude came over my face when I saw Mac’s name on the list of presenters for the Biodynamic Association’s national conference this fall.
From the moment the conference began, the ornate walls of the auditorium were filled with echoes of devotion, awareness, and service. There were fresh perspectives shared by young farmers on the future of biodynamic agriculture. Michael Schmidt energized conference attendees with his opening keynote on “Food Rights and the Renewal of Agriculture,” and his heartfelt story set the tone for the conference. Nicanor Perlas emphasized the importance of listening in order to encourage a non-dual, conscious evolution on a global level. Fred Kirschenmann spoke on the cultivation of an ecological conscience. Sister Miriam MacGillis reminded attendees that the place of the spirit lies in agriculture. Finally, Robert Karp closed the conference with his vision for the future of the organization, taking numerous questions and listening keenly to what attendees had to say.
The conference was lined with some free time and special events. A charming, candlelit evening provided the perfect setting for the Biodynamic Food and Wine Tasting, which raised funds for biodynamic apprentice, youth, and beginning farmer programs. The evening included a sampling of such local specialties as fermented foods, teas, artisan cheeses, handmade breads, and tasting plates by local chefs.
Smiles and laughter ensued as the crowd’s excitement built for a screening of Queen of the Sun (by the director of The Real Dirt on Farmer John). There was an overwhelming, positive response to the film, and the audience’s excitement touched both the director and the producer. Folk dancing, poetry reading, soul-soothing music performances, a large book tent, and a sponsor-filled goodie bag were just some of the gifts shared during the event. Connections and impressions were created that will last a lifetime and beyond. Several reunions took place, and long-standing friends reunited for the first time in over thirty years.
Many topics were explored during the conference. Building health in local and global economies, along with the creation of quality compost, seemed to be recurring themes. The workshop presenters were thoughtfully prepared, knowledgeable, approachable, and generous with their time. There was a true sense of commitment to the future of biodynamic agriculture among the presenters and attendees.
Some of the greatest teachers involved in the biodynamic movement today shared their ideas for creating health and healing on our planet at the national conference this year. Ongoing education is one of the essential elements for a growth of consciousness to occur, both individually and collectively. Teachers are sent to us and are meant for us. They plant seeds that bloom within us and continue to grow throughout our lives. This was written with deep gratitude for all of the teachers in my life past and present. May educators everywhere be energized and blessed as they continue to sow the seeds of healing and encourage the health of our local and global communities so that, rather than merely surviving, each of us may thrive and remember that we are not many, but one.
Some of Mary’s photos are highlighted in a slideshow below. You can enjoy her full collection from the conference on her website.
Mary Guthrie enjoys serving as an intuitive photographer, healing facilitator, and ordained minister in northern New Jersey. Through the lens of her camera, she specializes in the promotion of sustainable agriculture and heart-centered living. Her photography can be viewed at www.maryguthrie.photoshelter.com.