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Biodynamics is a practical and holistic technique that regenerates your soil and supercharges your organic growing. A system that restores biodiversity and works with mother nature.

Remember the flavour of those freshly picked veges? Would you like to grow food that tastes great? Growing your food biodynamically can unlock those memories and make them a reality every day

Biodynamic Agriculture offers a wide range of products for home gardeners and farmers.  You can select soil activators, kits for home gardens and compost making, specialised pastes and liquid blends all made in Australia ensuring the highest quality and shipped Australia wide.

The Historical Underpinnings of Biodynamic Agriculture in Australia

Biodynamics starts in Australia

The development of biodynamics in Australia owes much to the work of Bob Williams. Bob worked at developing the preparations, becoming a member of the Experimental Circle of Farmers and Gardeners in Dornach and receiving his typed copy of the original  Agriculture lectures by Rudolf Steiner in 1937, which were only shared among members  of  the Experimental Circle (12 in Australia) until it was felt enough was understood about biodynamics to share it with the world.

Ernesto Genoni, Australia’s first member of the Experimental Circle in 1928, had also made preparations in the early years in Melbourne, but more as a personal activity than part of a group one.

Biodynamic agriculture had its “coming out” in 1938 with the publication of Ehrenfried Pffeiffer’s book Biodynamic Farming and Gardening.

Coinciding with the release of Pfeiffer’s book, Bob Williams presented the first public presentation on biodynamics in Australia, on 26th June 1938 at the house of Walter and Marion Burley Griffin at Castlecrag. This public lecture marks the beginning of public advocacy in Australia for an agriculture differentiated from chemical agriculture.

Bob’s interest in agriculture was stimulated by time spent on Bill Bartlett’s property at Curlewis, north west New South Wales, in the early 1930’s. Bob married Louise Bartlett, and they resolved to establish biodynamic agriculture in Australia. In 1938 two acres of bushland was purchased at Roseville, (now Castlecrag), a suburb of Sydney. This allowed them to be near the emerging Anthroposophical Society members so they could continue their studies and friendships.

It was here in 1940 that they set up the Biodynamic Information Centre and from here biodynamic preparations were made and distributed in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and enquiries answered.

The cow manure which was used in these early days came from a farm at Kurrajong, near the foot of the Blue Mountains. This farm was started by Thea Stanley-Hughes, and her League of Health Members, and it must have been one of the first biodynamic farms in Australia.

In those early days development of the preparation work was a challenge, as access to the necessary herbs was not always easy and there was no real way of knowing what the preparations should look like. Bob consulted with Dr Pfeiffer, who was involved in biodynamic research in the USA, to help overcome this problem. Tests by Pfeiffer indicated that the quality of the preparations Bob was making compared well with tests Pfeiffer had done on preparations made in the USA and Europe.

Bob also experimented with adding the Biodynamic preparations 502-507 to the preparation 500 whilst stirring, and Pfeiffer commented that this was the first time he knew of, that the compost preps had been used as a surface spray. Later of course other methods of doing this were developed including Alex Podolinsky’s “Prepared 500”.

Bob and Louise grew a wide range of herbs, set up a herb drying and preparations storage shed, and had an number of other activities happening on their small holding. These included the care of animals such as milking goats and chooks, bees, fruit trees, vegetable gardens and areas of ornamental garden and native vegetation.

As interest in biodynamics grew Bob gave talks to garden clubs and other interested groups

Bob Williams starts biodynamics in NSW and Victoria

In the year 1945, Bob formed an association with Mrs. Ruby Macpherson of Melbourne, who owned pastoral properties in NSW and Victoria. She was very interested in anthroposophy and biodynamics, and regularly stayed with the Williams family whilst attending anthroposophical meetings at Castlecrag.

She offered to support Bob and his family so he could devote his time to working with biodynamics and making the preparations. Bob resigned from his business career, and the biodynamic work became full time. One of Mrs. Macpherson’s properties, at Wonga Park, Victoria, was converted to biodynamics under directions from Bob Williams. Ruby Macpherson had made her farm available for biodynamic research and application. Some of the people involved in those early days were : Colin and Elspeth Allan, George Aronowitz, Andrew Sargood (who carried out the first experiments) and Bob Williams on his visits from Sydney. Alex and Kathryn Podolinsky joined in these activities in 1953 and a few years later, when a new farm manager needed to be appointed, Bob Williams recommended that Alex and Kathryn be given the job.

The work of Alex Podolinsky

Alex began learning biodynamics as a child in 1929 from participants in Steiner’s Agricultural lecture series.

After emigrating to Australia in the 1950’s, it was at ‘Wonga Park’ that Alex applied his biodynamic knowledge to manage a highly productive cherry orchard on poor, shaly soils. It was here that he worked out how to combine the use of biodynamic preparations and sensitive cultivation techniques to develop soil.

 After working the farm for a few years, Alex moved to a degraded potato farm at Powelltown near Melbourne, which he converted for dairying. Together with Bob Williams, Allan Earle

 (a chemist) and Andrew Sargood, ( a veterinarian), Alex converted the farm to biodynamics and researched further into biodynamics.

With rotational and strip grazing and the use of biodynamic preparations which he had started to make, Alex was able to totally rejuvenate the soil without any off farm inputs. Without feeding the cows concentrates, he began topping the Victorian dairy production figures, and many farmers and those in authority became interested. He began training other farmers and the Bio-Dynamic Agricultural Association of Australia (BDAAA) was formed in the early 1960’s with 27 of these farmers and registered in 1967. During the 1960’s the BDAAA began to grow and develop, with Alex as its principle adviser and spokesperson. Bob was still supplying preparations to the BDAAA during the 1960’s from Sydney and was also training Allan Earle who then began making the preparations in Powelltown. Allan continued this work for many years. Bob Williams withdrew from BDAAA in the late 60’s, but continued to make preparations and have open days at his home until 1983.

Alex Podolinsky went on to develop the Farm Advisory work of biodynamics and trained many farmers in Victoria, around Australia and overseas in biodynamic methods. Alex also registered the world wide Demeter trademark in Australia in 1967 under the Bio-Dynamic Research Institute, of which he, Andrew Sargood and Allan Earle were members. He was then able to certify BDAAA farms so that the produce could be recognised as biodynamic. The BDRI is not associated with the biodynamic certifying agency Demeter International. Alex had great success with the dairy and wheat/sheep farms, to which he was the biodynamic adviser. He realised that the limitations of hand stirring could be circumvented by mechanical stirring as long as the farmer held the stirring alive in his consciousness. Kevin Twigg and Murray Gartner designed and built a stirring machine, using paddles suspended from the top. This machine was able to retain the essential aspects of hand stirring. In this way farmers could apply the Preparation 500 to large areas of land.

A few years later, Alex also developed the method of incorporating the compost preparations (502-507) into the preparation 500, to make a new compound preparation, Prepared 500, which when sprayed on the land, greatly accelerated soil structuring and fertility development.

Alex developed a series of lectures, culminating in three books on the practical application of biodynamics. He also appeared on an ABC TV documentary “A Winter’s Tale”, which spurred considerable interest in biodynamics. People still remember this show and many have joined the various Australian biodynamic associations to learn more of biodynamics. BDAAA members now farm over 800,000ha (over 80% of the total BD area worldwide).

Alex also went on to set up the Biodynamic Marketing Company in the early 1980’s to get biodynamic produce to consumers as cheaply and efficiently as possible.

He also trained gardeners and small-holders in Australian capital cities to form the Biodynamic Gardeners Association Inc.  Alex has travelled Australia all over many times and overseas to teach his methods. He is currently making annual pilgrimages to Eastern European Countries and to Italy, which has the world’s largest biodynamic production under glass.

Terry and Sophie Forman take on preparation making with Bob Williams in NSW

Terry and Sophie worked with Bob at Roseville, learning to make the preparations and carefully storing and distributing them. Terry had obtained his BSc in Agriculture at the University of Sydney and also had a Diploma in Soil Science. He had come into contact with biodynamics in Germany, when working on biodynamic farms there after completing his first degree, so was well suited to take this work into the next century.

He had also made a deep connection to anthroposophic studies and has increasingly developed that part of his life’s work.

In 1982, Terry and Sophie Forman, having trained for the task of making biodynamic preparations, were ready to buy some land and get started. They sent out a call for some help with finance to friends and enthusiasts. This is what brought an unconnected group of people together. The response to the Formans’ call for help was sufficient to assist the purchase of Rosencross Farm, near Armidale, NSW, where Terry was able to continue the biodynamic work and making of the preparations.

Charley Sievers work for biodynamics in NSW

There were other farmers taking up the biodynamic work in NSW, namely Charley Sievers and his wife Mary. Charley had attended a Waldorf School back in his native Germany and came to Australia in 1951 to work on the Snowy Mountains scheme. Charley and Mary saved to buy their own property in Bemboka in 1961, dairying and growing mixed vegetables and a famous strawberry patch. Charley’s reputation spread as the results of biodynamics could be clearly observed. It was not long before Charley started lectures in biodynamics and anthroposophy. Charley was also present at the formation of the BDAAA along with 38 others. He travelled extensively on behalf of the Association, giving talks and advice. He was called on more and more to share his knowledge in both biodynamics and anthroposophy and was also instrumental in setting up a biodynamic shop in Canberra. Charley and Mary moved up to Dungog to be nearer to the Sydney markets, but the financiers pulled out and Charley and Mary lost everything. So he had to return to his building work. Later he built their home at Lake Macquarie.

Charley wrote two booklets: An Introduction to Biodynamic Farming and Growing BD Vegetables Under Australian Conditions. He remained a strong anthroposophist and conducted meetings at his home twice weekly on biodynamics and anthroposophy, as well as field days in his gardens. Today’s strong Hunter Biodynamic Group has grown out of Charley’s work.

The “Robert Williams Biodynamic Foundation” founded

In 1984, following Bob Williams death, some ‘Rosencross Farm’ supporters were left with the very strong fear that any person wanting to practice the biodynamic method, and not owning a farm, must have a huge battle in front of them. The idea of the consequences of people not being able to attract enough support to start and carry on biodynamic farming began to foster the thought that agricultural lands and food are not only the concerns of farmers! These are the problems of the whole community and the whole community must raise its collective concern, lest we eventually be left with foods of low life quality and high toxic residues, by our own apathy and default! A group formed as a result, consisting of Beryl van Leer and John Shaw, Louise Williams, Louis Tromp, David Julien, Scott Douglas, Terry Forman, Ron Haack, Hein van der Hagen and Hamish Mackay. They became the “Robert Williams Biodynamic Agriculture Foundation” to foster the growth and development of all aspects of biodynamic agriculture within Australia, and to continue the work that Robert Williams started. They also saw a need to buy biodynamic farms back when the farmer wished to retire, so that they may be kept going in perpetuity. The only problem was insufficient funds.

Biodynamic wheat first exported and biodynamic bread bakery

In the early 70’s, David Williams, Bob and Louise’s son, had bought ‘Demeter Farm’ at Breeza, in northwest NSW and he started growing wheat and fat lambs biodynamically. With the opportunity to finally get biodynamic wheat, Erwin Berney, who was part of the Anthroposophical Activities Group, decided in 1973 to start baking the unyeasted baking ferment loaves in Butlers Bakery at Northbridge (Sydney) three nights per week. He also was researching how to export biodynamic wheat to Europe, as export regulations at that time would only allow it to be stored with insecticides. Discussions with CSIRO led to tests to see if CO2 would work to retard insect infestation of wheat, and in 1976 these tests were successful. The first container of biodynamic wheat with CO2 was exported to Europe in 1978. Over the next year 450 tonnes of  biodynamic wheat was exported to Europe and this method of poison free insect control opened up new possibilities for storage and transport of biodynamic produce.

In 1997 Helios Enterprises became legally incorporated to continue the bread-making and marketing Dr.Hauschka Cosmetics and Elixirs. Directors and subscribers were Hal Gingis, John Shaw, Bruce Ross, Erwin Berney, Hamish Mackay and John Street. Terry Forman was also working at the Demeter Bakery at this time. In 1979 the bakery was moved to Glebe where the old existing bakery had been rebuilt.

The impact of the Demeter Bakery as a meeting place of people coming into contact or working further in anthroposophy and biodynamics should never be underestimated. Erwin and others ran study groups at the bakery for staff, and it was a wonderful learning experience. Many a bread was kneaded or pies filled to the discussion of spiritual scientific issues! Many people all around the world can take their connections to anthroposophy and biodynamics to their time at Demeter.

Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association of Australia Inc. (now Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd)

Terry carried on the preparation making and distribution, and on 28th June 1988, a foundation meeting was held at Rosencross Farm, where a group of farmers, gardeners and anthroposophists who had been supporting Terry and Sophie’s work decided to form the Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association of Australia Inc.  Peter Proctor, the visiting New Zealand Farm Adviser, lent his support and suggested that they could base their constitution on the New Zealand Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association.

Anne Tillett was the Association’s first secretary in 1988, travelling to Rosencross farm three days per fortnight to deal with correspondence, membership enquiries, to pack preparations and later to start the journal News Leaf.

The Association was officially incorporated on January 8th 1989, the first meeting being in South Australia.

Brian Keats took over from Anne Tillet to become the first official secretary and he and Hamish Mackay organised the burial of 10,000 cow horns at Braidwood on the Mackay sheep property.

Brian created the first data base of BDFGAA members and took over as editor of News Leaf.

In 1993, founding member and Executive Secretary, Alan Johnstone, began part time work at an office in Bellingen administrating this rapidly growing Association. The office then moved to Alan and Cate’s biodynamic citrus orchard in the Thora Valley near Bellingen where the full range of biodynamic Preparations was made and distributed to members.

Terry became the National Field Advisor, travelling to all Australian States except Victoria and has helped many groups and farmers setting up and making the preparations. Terry was also asked to write a module on biodynamics for the University of Sydney (Orange) for their post-graduate course in sustainable agriculture.

Along the way other memorable personalities joined in the association work. Eventually Cheryl Kemp took over editing News Leaf in 1998 and when Hamish Mackay returned to Australia in 1999, after a number of years working overseas, he and Cheryl developed other educational work. It was around this time in 1999 that Terry Forman moved away from the association, feeling he no longer felt connected to the direction it was taking.

With the help of funding through schemes such as Farmbi$, a rapid expansion of educational work through workshops was undertaken by Cheryl and Hamish. Biodynamics was spread into a wider farming community who were able to access this funding support.

In 1999, BFGAA wrote Biodynamic Standards that were taken up by NASAA (National Association of Sustainable Agriculture) and BFA (Biological Farmers of Australia), so that farmer members of these organisations could be certified by them as Biodynamic. This Biodynamic certification has been taken up by many farm members of BDFGAA and their biodynamic produce is available alongside that certified as Demeter by BDRI.

Biodynamics in Australia (BAA) since 2014

The BDAAA (Bio-Dynamic Agriculture Association of Australia) continues with Alex Podolinsky at the helm with other trained farmers helping with advisory work. The Biodynamic Gardener’s Association continues under John Bradshaw’s guidance with Introduction to Biodynamics workshops are held throughout Australia. John also edits  Biodynamic Gardening magazine, which is sold in newsagents Australia- wide.

In 2024 BAA (Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd.), formerly the BDFGAA, now has over 700 members, and has encouraged the formation of 24 regional biodynamic groups throughout Australia. They have published the News Leaf membership journal quarterly since 1989, and hold workshops and conferences around Australia. All the biodynamic preparations are made in Bellingen, located on the NSW Mid North Coast. An e-zine called Between the Leaves has been published monthly since 2019 and goes out to approximately 8500 subscribers.

A number of innovative products containing biodynamic preparations are available from BAA, including manure concentrate, soil activator, combined soil preparation, fish and seaweed concentrate and biodynamic paste for shrubs and trees.

Farmers are finding that the increased and regular use of the biodynamic preparations is quickly building the resilience, soil structure and fertility of their farms with minimal off-farm inputs. Their biodynamic produce is acknowledged by all who taste it as the premium in food quality available.

This article was compiled from articles by Cheryl Kemp, Anne Tillett, John Paull and John Bradshaw, and more recent experience at BAA.


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