“Preparations work is communal work”
The heart of biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic preparations are the heart of biodynamic agriculture. Just making them requires active involvement, care and attention. Andreas Würsch offers some insights.
Andreas Würsch is a farmer. Since 1993, he and his wife Käthi have run their goat and vegetable farm in Nidwalden Canton biodynamically. Besides goats, there are cattle, pigs, chickens and other small domestic animals on the farm. For many years he has been studying the effect of the biodynamic preparations, and with their aid has overseen the growth and maturation of his produce.
The preparations working group
As soon as he converted the farm to biodynamics, Andreas joined the local preparations working group, consisting of a core of five people who organize the “preparations day” each autumn, when the preparations are made communally. All the region’s biodynamic farmers are invited to this, and newcomers to biodynamic agriculture are especially welcome. The group also meets two or three times in the winter to deepen their understanding of specific themes and to share thoughts and experiences.
Over the past twenty years, Andreas Würsch has gained wide-ranging insights into the production, storage and use of the biodynamic preparations, and has tested this knowledge in practice. He would like to inspire his colleagues to develop their own personal relationship with these preparations, to understand them better and to improve their work. He knows how hard it is to make the necessary time for the preparations amidst all the other pressing tasks on a farm.
Finding successful ways to make it work
Making the two spraying and six compost preparations communally on one of the farms gives these biodynamic farmers the chance to meet, talk, and engage in a valuable common endeavour of like minds. During the spring many of the group’s members take on particular tasks and thus responsibility for all the other members by, for instance, gathering and drying the plants destined for the compost preparations.
Käthi and Andreas Würsch grow the camomile on their farmland. When it blossoms, the group members are invited over to help with harvesting. The harvested young flowers, already fully open, are dried in the shade. As to dandelion, it has been agreed that every farmer in the group harvests this separately from their own land. Drying and storing it is especially difficult since the flowers stay moist for a long time. This needs everyone to get involved. One member of the group harvests valerian at the end of June and makes the extract from it. Another member is in touch with a crystal hunter and gets second-grade quartz crystals from him, which are crushed to make a fine powder.
The farmers discuss the quality of the harvested blossoms together, and this is always instructive and useful. The majority of the biodynamic preparations they have made together are buried in the ground at Andreas’s farm to mature. After they are lifted out in the spring, he stores them and tends them until the farmers need them.
The importance of working in peace and pleasure
Andreas believes it is very important to work with the preparations peacefully, and with a good feeling. He is certain that the way people work affects the outcome. Their pleasure in working with the preparations is clear during their shared activity on preparations day. Each one of them feels encouraged to keep developing what they do. The insights gained from shared conversations have an enriching and inspiring effect on their individual work with the preparations on their own farms.
Andreas Würsch, Demeter farmer