Themen

The Agricultural Course

Because many people were asking for a deeper understanding of agriculture, Rudolf Steiner decided to hold a series of lectures in Koberwitz, in 1924. There he developed a new understanding for agriculture from a spiritual scientific perspective.

The beginnings

Rudolf Steiner's Agricultural Course

Because many people were asking for a deeper understanding of agriculture, Rudolf Steiner decided to hold a series of lectures in Koberwitz, in 1924. There he developed a new understanding for agriculture from a spiritual scientific perspective.

The "Anthroposophical Farmers Research Group" started to immediately test Rudolf Steiners indications on their farms. Three years later they founded a cooperative for the use of products using the Biodynamic method. Today, more then 80 years after the Agricultural Course, about 3,500 farms manage 670,000 hectars of land and more then 3,500 Demeter (Biodynamic) products are available in specialized stores from Antipasit to whole-meal bread, from wine to icecream, from textiles to cosmetics. The group of producers using the Demeter certification mark is the largest provider of certified organic products worldwide.

The Situation of Agriculture around 1924

In the early 1920’s agriculture was gripped by clearly visible changes. The orientaton towards technolgy and science and profit-making became dominant. Already since the middle of the eighteenth century agriculture was carried out in England from a one-sided economic point of view. In 1810 Albrecht von Thaer proclaimed that agriculture is a profession for the purpose of gain. This view became more dominant during the nineteenth century, leading progressively towards a non-distinction between agriculture and ind industry. Many farmers inwardly faced this development with great concern and with growing doubts.

What is new in the lecture-course on agriculture?

In the report, already prepared during the conference, written for the News Sheet of the Anthroposophical Society, Steiner himself wrote on the aims of the lectures:

“As lecture-content I placed the being of the products which are delivered by agriculture and the conditions under which these products come about. These discussions aimed to reach those practical considerations that can spiritually illuminate the decisive questions. This is then added to the practical insights and what is gained from the scientific researches of today.”

The lectures are not a normal textbook on agriculture, yet they open up new ways of understanding for the wholeness out of which agricultural products come into being. That which later developed after the lecture-course under the name “bio-dynamic” basically embraces three dimensions: 

  • the conditions under which the products come about in agriculture;
  • the concrete measures described in the lectures;
  • the elements of a continuously yielding, environmentally friendly production of food which fosters the body as well as the soul and spirit of the human being.

Even if the concept of an ecological, organic farming is not clearly defined, it does show firstly a clear direction of work. Secondly, with the concept of bio-dynamic agriculture the “conditions of production” are penetrated by knowledge as well as adding specific measures and preparations.

In an impressively coherent composition, agriculture is presented in the context of the earthly-cosmic forces. This basic motif, central to the whole concept, pervades the whole lecture-cycle. It presents a complete reversal of the mechanical-materialistic causal analysis of matter in agriculture. On these methods rest the obvious results in modern agribusiness. At the same time, however, it is also one of the cardinal causes for the questionable biological condition of the earth.

During the lecture cycle for agriculture, Rudolf Steiner drew this image on the black board.