What is Biodynamic Farmign all about? And why are biodynamic foods just so incredibly tasty?
Mark Rathbone is an easygoing, seemingly typical Aussie farmer. But when you hear the story of biodynamic farming in Australia you quickly realise just how much he has been influenced by this movement.
“My father was one of the first biodynamic dairy farmers, starting in 1965,” says Mark. “He was really conscious of the relatively poor quality of farming soils. When he attended a series of lectures by Australian biodynamics pioneer, Alex Podolinsky, he became convinced that biodynamic farming offered a realistic alternative to what was then normal practice.”
Buildling a biodynamic busines
“From the very beginning I have always seen just how much more productive and sustainable our land has become as Dad changed to biodynamic practices. And the real clinch has been the taste and quality of the biodynamic food. Truly, it is magnificent.
“But in the end we also have to be financially successful. I decided that direct-selling our food to the public was the best way to educate people on the quality of biodynamic food as well as offering a best-value product. So from 1996, we established a home-delivery service throughout northern Victoria. By 2009, we built a website and started selling across Australia. At this stage,we were also sourcing and retailing excellent biodynamic and organic products from other farmers and manufacturers.
“One of our keys to gaining customers,” explains Mark, “is food tastings. We organise regular information sessions for groups of people who want to find out how biodynamic farming methods differ from other food-growing methods. From our experience, once people have tried and compared biodynamic food to conventional fruit and vegetables they almost always become customers.”
Synthetic Fertilisers VS Organic/Biodynamic
“If you want cheap food and are not too concerned about your health and the environment, then buy conventional food,” says Mark. “If you want to live a healthier life, have a better environment and just enjoy the flavour of food more, then buy organic or biodynamic. If you are a farmer and want to make money and enjoy what you do, I think eventually you are going to have to think about organics or biodynamics.
“I think we should also be aware that many conventional vegetables have many chemicals on them — herbicide, pesticide or fungicide ... or all three. Some of them are systemic, which means they cannot be washed off. That alone should be food for thought,” Mark suggests.
“I believe we are on the cusp of big changes in how people live. Living more simply and more sustainably will be an essential part of how our community copes with climate change and other environmental pressures. I think, more and more, we will see natural healing, solar power, organic/biodynamic farming and more self-reliant lifestyles as the way to go. And I hope the government encourages people in this direction.
5 Tips For Going Green
1 Grow your own food (without adding fertiliser but rather learning how to build humus in your soil).
2 Eat organic and biodynamic where you can. It lasts longer and tastes delicious. Plus, you'll be supporting the farmers that grow it.
3 Buy food as close to it's natural source as possible, with less packaging
4 If you don’t have a garden where you can grow your own fruit and veges, shop at Farmer’s Markets and local fruit shops and support growers who practice green eithics and sustainability.
5 Or, if you live in an apartment in a large city, find out about community gardens close to you where you can drop off compost, help to grow produce and get involved!
Learn More about Biodynamics and Taste-Test the Results
One of the main benefits of biodynamic food is its flavour. Most people don’t have the opportunity to experience this first-hand. As a solution, there is a series of tasting and information sessions (in Victoria and southern NSW). If you would like to have one in your area or be invited to one, just Google “Save Our Soil” and find out more on the website.
If you have a club or group who would like to find out more about biodynamics and how it differs from other food-growing methods, Mark can come to your meeting place and hold an information session. He does talks on biodynamic wine, organic cosmetics, biodynamic farming and vegetable growing and more.
For more information, head to biodynamicfoodandwine.com.au
By Joseph Natoli