Section of Agriculture at the Goetheanum
History of the section
When the lecture-course on agriculture was given by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in Schloss Koberwitz, east of Breslau in Schlesien, around Pentecost 1924, he already announced in advance to which Section at the Goetheanum this impulse for a renewed agriculture out of anthroposophy was to belong. Because of her numerous tasks and responsibilities, Ita Wegmann as leader of the Medical Section declined to take on this additional comprehensive area of work. And so the farming work became part of the Science Section.
The further development showed that for decades a fruitful work was accomplished between the research group of farmers and Guenther Wachsmuth as leader of the Section. Wachsmuth was not a professional farmer, but the basis and further development of the bio-dynamic methods and their application in the world does first and foremost depend on the connection with the anthroposophical, spiritual-scientific work fostered at the Goetheanum.
As already before and during the Second World War, annual Agriculture Conferences took place at the Goetheanum. They are an international centre for meetings and discussion within the bio-dynamic movement. During the ’50s the agricultural work within the Natural Science Section, amongst other things through the activities of Dr Gerhard Schmidt, doctor and nutrition researcher.
In 1963, shortly before the death of Guenther Wachsmuths and the taking over of this part of the Science Section by Hermann Poppelbaum, the Council at the Goetheanum announced on 10th February the forming of the “Section for Nutrition and Agriculture” led by Gerhard Schmidt. As Section leader Schmidt worked closely with the Medical Section and the Natural Science Section at the Goetheanum; he dedicated himself mainly to questions of nutrition. In the ’60s the discussion initiated by Hans Heinze on minerals in bio-dynamic manuring and in nutrition occupied a large part. From1963 to 1971, alongside the conferences on Agriculture and working meetings, the Section organised 16 mostly shorter conferences on nutrition in Dornach, Austria and Italy. Farmers and farming advisors, German consumer associations and individual medical doctors took part. The impressive contributions of Udo Renzenbrink should be mentioned.
After Dr Gerhard Schmidt retired in1970 from the leadership, the Natural Science Section led by Dr Jochen Bockemühl took up again the tasks of the Agriculture Section. Dr Bockemühl organised the work so that agricultural concerns could be adequately covered. In order to meet the growing international bio-dynamic movement, a “Group of Representatives for Agriculture” was formed which met twice a year. In this international committee bearers of initiative and experiencd co-workers in the bio-dynamic work from various countries still meet. In these meetings ever since their inauguration, the annual theme is decided for the whole movement, and the annual winter conference is organised as regards content and contributors. Moreover, the movement includes spiritual-scientific studies and discussion of professional concerns.
1972 a one-month training course began for young farmers, which included studies in spiritual science, art, and agriculture. Each year the number of participants increases.
1972 Prof Dr Herbert Koepf took over the leadership of the department for agriculture. In the ’70s and ’80s the agriculture department accompanied and supported the international growth of the movement. Koepf could make use of his connections and support the developments in North and South America, in New Zealand, Poland, Israel and Italy through lecture-journeys, courses and advice. To participate in the winter conference was still by invitation, yet according to the increase of invitations it rose to 500-700 people, especially with young people.
1988 Dr Manfred Klett was asked to become the main leader of the agriculture department.
Since 2001 Nikolai Fuchs has been responsible for the leadership.
On Michaelmas Day, 2004, the Collegium of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum decided to transform the “Department for Agriculture” of the Natural Sciences Section into its own Section within the School. An adequate form was given to the activities which had already existed for several years. Firstly, the realm of responsibility and representation in the Collegium of the School of Spiritual Science was already practised as in the other Sections. Secondly, expression is given to the autonomous impulse and the equal relationship of agriculoture not only to science but also to other professional fields, like medicine and education. In future the esoteric identity of the Agriculture Section has to be newly developed. Nikolai Fuchs for the Section for Agriculture and Johannes Kühl for the Natural Sciences Section strengthen their mutual will for a further strong collaboration which also lies in the destiny of these two Sections as regards themes and methods.