Updated: Mar 21
Agriculture is what makes us human.
The moment the first farmer planted a seed with intention everything changed. We stopped hunting and gathering, and started to put down roots, we began building cities and specializing into the modern civilization that we live in today.
The conventional agriculture that accounts for over 99% of the farmland in the United States is a backwards broken system that incentives the wrong things, and is built to value profit over people. Conventional agriculture is literally breaking humanity.
The good news is that we can fix it. Agriculture is about more than just growing crops, it also involves what we eat, and the impact this has on health of humans and ecosystems.
Agriculture = Food + Farming + Health
Organic agriculture was a step in the right direction, but we need to go beyond organic. Some say "sustainable agriculture", but, unfortunately, we cannot sustain what we have in regards to agriculture and call it sufficient...regenerative is the new sustainable.
Regenerative Agriculture champions methods that grow soil, not just plants. The result is an increase in farmer profitability, and a decrease in the toxic impact that conventional agriculture has on ecosystems and human health.
Regenerative Agriculture brings a new focus to farming, where the goal is not only to grow nutrient dense crops, but to deliver biodiversity and balance to the ecosystem, to use less to get more, to recognize natural rhythms and develop process around them, and, in the process, grow healthy thriving people.
The methods and the science are at hand to address big global challenges through Regenerative Agriculture. What is missing is public and political will.
The solutions will not come from politicians, they will come from an awakened and empowered populous that is expressing our creative agency, buying power, eating our ideals, and growing as much of our own food as we can.
It is time that we all take a seat at the table at recognize that eating is an agricultural act. And that if we fix the soil, we fix ourselves.
Empty and toxic food results in weaker humans. This is very easy to see in the alarming increase in chronic disease that is threatening to overwhelm our health care system.
According to Dr. Phil Landrigan and Dr. Zach Bush, in the 1960’s 6% of the population was diagnosed with a chronic disease, in 1986 it was 12.4%, in 2020 that number is 54%.
Literally and figuratively we are further from our food than we have ever been. Estimates tell us the average meal travels over 1500 miles to our plates and the number of children that don’t know french fries and ketchup come from potatoes and tomatoes is heartbreaking.
Let’s face it, most people eat food for fun or convenience rather than nourishment. Estimates say up to 70% of the average American diet is processed food, and according to the CDC only 1 in 10 people eat enough fruits and vegetables.
Food science and fast food have done a wonderful job of making it easy to eat, but we are selling ourselves short in the process. We are eating very dangerously.
From health care to hunger, or climate change to the economy, the adulteration of agriculture and our food system explains essentially every issue facing modern humanity. And the source of this adulteration is very simple — we have been growing plants at the expense of the living soil.
Follow the logic, how do we grow natural ecosystems with artificial inputs? If we are feeding plants with synthetic fertilizers, we work against the soil process, weakening plants, inviting pests and disease, and, in turn, weakening humans.
Soil is everywhere under our feet, but we are using it up. THIS study titled, "The extent of soil loss across the US Corn Belt", shows how up to 1/3 of topsoil has been used up in the Midwest. Healthy soil is a finite substance.
Soil is mysterious. Leonardo da Vinci stated, “We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than we do about the soil underfoot.” In many ways this remains true today.
Soil is humble, derived from the root of humus. Humus is produced in the soil by the activity of microbes and earthworms and living plant roots, and more. It is the purest and most generative form of organic chaos, and the lowest decomposed state of organic matter before it returns to help construct life once again.
Many identify with life, and the world, as a purely physical experience. After all, this is what we find in conventional wisdom and school textbooks, and in the scientific method that we have employed to explain the natural world.
But there is more to life than what is physically here, we are more than the sum of our parts. Life has a force, an energy that ties us together and connects us all, and approached consciously, these forces can be leveraged to radically improve agriculture.
The most recognized method of involving life force in agriculture was introduced by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in lectures given in 1924 that have come to be known as the Agriculture Course. The methods Dr. Steiner developed have come to be known collectively as “biodynamics” and represent the very first reaction to chemical farming, even before the organic movement.
I first learned about biodynamics and Dr. Steiner's work 20+ years ago through the book Secrets of the Soil.
Next, I read his Agriculture Course lectures where he gives a remarkable answer to a question from one of his students Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer that, for me, explains the world that we live in..
Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer: “How can it happen that the spiritual impulse, and especially the inner schooling, for which you are constantly providing stimulus and guidance bear so little fruit? Why do the people concerned give so little evidence of spiritual experience, in spite of all their efforts? Why, worst of all, is the will for action, for the carrying out of these spiritual impulses, so weak?”
Dr. Rudolf Steiner: “This is a problem of nutrition. Nutrition as it is to-day does not supply the strength necessary for manifesting the spirit in physical life. A bridge can no longer be built from thinking to will and action. Food plants no longer contain the forces people need for this.”
Our food is not fueling our will, what a profound observation. In this answer is the solution to what is ailing modern humanity. Simply put, we are growing food for the wrong reasons, and we are living to eat, rather than eating to live.
With this insight, I was moved to start a retail garden center that I operated for 15+ years. I started a wholesale company that manufactured vortex-style compost tea brewers and biodynamic farming products, an organic lawn care company, an organic wheatgrass business, and a market vegetable farm. Herein I put many methods to the test, it was biodynamic boot camp.
In my first attempts to implement biodynamic methods I quickly recognized that it was not a complete farming system. Biodynamics does not address mineral balance, cover cropping, microbial diversity, and many other facets of farming that are vital for growing regenerative nutrient dense crops.
So my efforts broadened to try and bring all of the facets of agriculture I was discovering into one place so they could be put into action. I called it "BioEnergetic Agriculture”.
It is quite an unoriginal name, and the content I was bringing together stands on the backs of giants like Steiner, William Albrecht, Viktor Schauberger, Nikola Tesla, and others; but my intentions were not to start a movement, only to develop a way of addressing the entirety of a living system as a method to meet people where they are.
BioEnergetic Agriculture operates off of the principle that a wholistic living system can only thrive when all required physical, mineral, biological, and energetic components are present and working together in resonant synergy. It is a pallet of consideration towards what humans can do to nurture the innate regenerative and resonant capacities of living systems.
These four pillars — physical, mineral, biological, and energetic — work as four legs of a chair. Follow the logic — conventional agriculture is physical and mineral, the farmer plows and fertilizes (then uses toxic rescue chemistry in an attempt to deal with all of the problems created!). Organic agriculture incorporates the biological realm, but both conventional and organic fail to recognize life force.
To put it another way, if conventional agriculture is like drowning, and organic agriculture is treading water, BioEnergetic Agriculture is swimming where you want to go.
BioEnergetic Agriculture seeks a union of geology, chemistry, hydrology, spirituality, biology, physics, and beyond. When we frame our agronomy from the perspective of physical, mineral, biological, and energetic capacities we expand the potential for healing the Earth and improving our agricultural results.
Let’s take a look at each component individually.
The physical aspect of BioEnergetic Agriculture primarily involves the things we can get our hands on, such as soil structure and the plants themselves.
In many ways proper soil structure is created as a result of proper mineral balance and microbial diversity, so there is not much action in the Physical realm. Plowing and fertilizing are actually compensations for the inability of the soil to fend for itself. So if proper agronomic practice is approached there is very little growers need to do to correct and maintain healthy soil structure.
The mineral component of BioEnergetic Agriculture involves attention towards elemental diversity and balance.
The mineral realm is the mechanism of soil fertility. Plants cannot “eat” minerals in the traditional sense, they uptake the elements used for growth in an ionic elemental form that, in a healthy living system, are primarily delivered through the activity of micro-organisms, or microbes.
The ionic ingestion of plants is the basis of hydroponic growing that feeds plants directly using salt-based and sometimes organic forms of nutrition. However, direct supplementation of mineral fertilizers cannot replace the quality of nutrition delivered through a healthy microbial soil food web.
So much of modern conventional agriculture and hobby gardening is based on NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous & potassium), or the three numbers you see on the front of a fertilizer package. This is a very short sighted articulation of plant and soil fertility. Why would Mother Nature make an element not needed in the garden?
If it is not it in the soil it is not in the plant, and if it is not in the plant it is not in the people. For more on this concept, read the blog post Sea Energy Agriculture HERE.