What is biodynamic farming…and why does it matter?
At Jurlique, the ingredients that go into our skin care products aren’t your average ingredients. We use healthy, powerful plants that are carefully chosen for their skin-benefitting properties – and they’re all grown on our biodynamic* farm in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills.
We believe biodynamic* practices enable us to grow the purest, best quality herbs which are hand harvested at a time when they’re full of life and vitality. These herbs are then utilised to make extracts that form the basis of Jurlique products, meaning you get the best from each ingredient we use.
And it’s not just your skin. We believe by following biodynamic farming techniques, we’re harnessing all the positive, living energies from Nature, as well as farming in the most sustainable way possible.
The plants and herbs we grow are nutritional for the skin, enriching for the soul and good for the planet.
What is biodynamic farming?
Biodynamics is an all-encompassing approach to farming and uses the sun, moon, stars and planets of Earth to bring about balance and healing, treating the farm as a living organism – one that’s self-contained and self-sustainable.
Biodynamic principles were first introduced by Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner in 1924. Interested in spirituality as well as social and education reform, Steiner founded anthroposophy – an educational, therapeutic, and creative system which seeks to use mainly natural means to optimise physical and mental health and wellbeing.
In the early 1920s he was invited to host a week-long lecture series for European farmers who had witnessed a drop in their soil fertility and, concerned about the future of agriculture, sought help to improve their land. Steiner argued that this decrease in soil health was the result of synthetic pesticides, which were first introduced during the industrialisation period. Although these synthetic pesticides treated the plant and at first yielded impressive results, they caused the health of the soil (and later, crops) to plummet.
Steiner told these farmers that the soil must be looked after through using herbal remedies and encouraged them to look to the cosmos before planting and harvesting crops.
The biodynamic calendar
Unlike conventional farming, biodynamic farming is guided by a specially-created biodynamic (or astro) calendar. This calendar is based on the moon/planet positioning and – a bit like your horoscope – indicates what work should be undertaken when. The calendar shows when to plant, cultivate or harvest various crops based on both the phase of the moon and the zodiacal constellation the moon is passing through, and depending on whether the crop is the root, leaf, flower, or fruit (or seed) of the plant.
All these constellations have different energies: air, water, fire and earth. When the moon passes over Aries, Leo and Sagittarius (the fire signs) the days are warm, influencing fruit and seed formation. Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn (the earth signs) promote root growth, as the root is drawn into the soil. Gemini, Libra and Aquarius (the air signs) favour development of flowers, substance and colour through the moon’s influence over the air, and when the moon passes through Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces (the water signs), it promotes vegetative growth because of its influence over water.
It’s an age-old, yet pioneering, principle that goes back much further than Steiner’s time. It’s a hark back to centuries gone by, when synthetic pesticides didn’t exist, and the only reliable calendar was the moon and stars.
How does biodynamic differ from organic?
An organic system grows plants that are nutritionally good for your body, but a biodynamic system takes it one step further. Biodynamics treats the land holistically and follows the belief that astrological influences affect phases of planting and harvest, which is where the biodynamic calendar comes in.
Organic farming is defined by its use of organic fertilisers. Biodynamic also adheres to these principles but while organic permits imported fertilisers, biodynamic requires that a farm produce its own fertility as much as possible through the rotation of crops, with no outside inputs. It also enriches the soil through using ‘biodynamic preparations’, which are placed in the farm environment to encourage the plants to be spiritually good for the body and have the highest vital life force energy when harvested.
What are biodynamic preparations?
When Steiner established his biodynamic principles, he came up with nine ‘preparations’, which are made from herbs, mineral sources and animal manures, with each preparation designed to address certain plant health concerns.
Turned into field sprays and compost, it is these preparations that aid fertilisation – rather than synthetic, chemical-driven fertilisers you’d typically find in conventional farming. These preparations are used on the farm to harness, activate and enhance the energy of nature into the whole farming system.
The benefits of biodynamic farming
The benefits of biodynamic* farming are endless. Firstly, it’s ecologically and environmentally sustainable as essentially, the farm looks after itself in one full circle – and nothing harmful goes into the Earth. By ensuring the soil is healthy, we protect the local environment and produce high-quality crops.
By being guided by the moon, biodynamic* farming allows the crops grown to be the best that they can be. Just like the moon has an influence on tides, it also influences moisture in soil. As the moon approaches our farm, it pulls moisture up to the surface of the soil where it can be best utilised by crops and helps with planting seedlings. As the moon moves away from the Earth’s surface, root crops can benefit from the lower water level into the soil. This, in turn, helps seeds germinate, speeds plant growth rates, and produces more abundant harvests.
You may see our products all over the world, but our biodynamic* farm is our heartland and we’ve stayed true to our artisanal roots. We will always put more back into the earth than we take out of it.