Our star instagramer, reflects on his experience with biodynamics and how his garden enriches his and his family’s life and well-being.
“I began to learn about biodynamics as a contributing writer for Psychologies Magazine, working with our friends at Weleda in documenting A Year in the Garden, and felt hugely drawn to the deep understanding of land, plants and natural energies flowing through their practices and biodynamic gardens; of working with nature rather than a sense of mastery.A process of listening, offering and receiving. My wife Emine and I wrote about biodynamic growing in our book Sattva because it chimed very harmoniously with the sense of seeing the whole – tapping into a bigger picture – that we so appreciate in Ayurveda, as well as the principles of natural self-healing and meeting the world at a deeper, conscious level rather than only the physical surface.
We live in a terraced cottage in Kent where the small back garden has become our kitchen garden. I’ve tried to make it flow in this way. Little harvests giving us immediacy and vital energy through the stable door and directly into our meals, and the trimmings returned to the garden through our compost. We have our beds of herbs, vegetables, greens and leaves and grow plants and flowers like calendula, lavender, yarrow, chamomile and lemon balm for homemade healing preparations. When we moved here we planted fruit trees, and around these we let the garden grow and invite as much life as possible into the space through unchecked growth and incidental woodpiles, ‘weeds’ allowed to grow to flower. Clumps of nettles, dandelions and herbs are valuable in our food, compost, teas, natural brewing and little decoctions to help us adjust to feeling and change; part of preparative healing. The wild clover nourishes the soil. Herbs enliven our food and make wonderful preparations for sprinkling on the garden.
At the front of the cottage we’ve made a tiny meadow from a sloping swatch of grass with bulbs and wildflower seeds and by allowing the garden to do what it will. It makes the resonance and feeling of home more joyful and uplifting; a new buzz, good vibrations. This feeling of vitality in the garden comes before things we will take, but we find that life and balance in the garden brings quality and abundance to our crops, and if they feed other beings sometimes, this in turn feeds the garden. So we invite, rather than deter all forms of life.
Why is biodynamics special for you?
I love the emphasis placed on our intention and our relationship with nature: that this is conversational and reciprocal. I love that we take nothing in or out of our garden; that our garden, like a woodland or meadow, holds all it needs to grow in abundance and that we can share and facilitate this. I appreciate the pace, the light tread and I love the feeling of our garden now, the life that has returned and food we receive gratefully without ecological cost. I love that through our intention we can improve a small piece of the world and make it hospitable and protective to diverse species. Deeply appreciated too, is the way it has helped us to tune into ever subtler energies, lunar and celestial movements and the elemental changes they bring, the ability to adjust in small ways. It helps us to look up and around; brings out the magical moments that come from simply taking a breath to look at the world.
Top advice for members who are new to biodynamics?
My advice is to focus on your intention, to allow yourself to converse with your space and tune into the effects of care on the wellbeing of the garden, and your own wellbeing. Biodynamics is very rich and it can help to choose the elements to which you feel drawn, those that make you feel good. To focus on the terrain, the ground, the soil, your intent and inviting life and health rather than warring with or warding off any particular aspect of nature.
Gardening organically, especially incorporating biodynamic practices, is a wonderful vehicle for mindful action and holistic healing, to align ourselves with nature and reap all the benefits of being outdoors, to practice care, patience, simplicity and nurture, to detach intention from expectation and look to a wider health. All of these aspects are deeply healing in our modern context, for adults and children alike. So enjoy without the need to be aggressively productive or to fulfil every aspect of biodynamic growing. To improve a swatch of soil naturally, to provide refuge, flower and cover for insects and animals is wonderful work.
Grow and let grow and tune into the changes you feel. “