I have been obsessed with biodynamic farming practices for as long as I can remember. Rudolph Steiner’s alchemistic methods for transforming soil, sun, moon, and plant into an amazing end-product are breathtaking to see in action when walking the biodynamic tea fields in India and Sri Lanka.
With an established popularity in the wine and cosmetics industries, biodynamic farms, of which there are about 100 in the U.S., are growing in number each year as new farms gain the stringent certification for vegetables, wines, fruits, and herbs. There are very few tea gardens with the certification, but Ambootia, Oothu, Dunsandle, and Makaibari in India are all exceptional examples of what is possible with biodynamic, as well as Idulgashinna in Sri Lanka, where I was married and from where we source most of the teas for our line.
The beauty of biodynamic methods is that they massively improve the vitality of the soil, seed, and overall crop by increasing the soil’s micronutrients and trace minerals while reversing the damage to the soil from chemicals faster than even organic methods. The feeling is exhilarating when walking these gardens – the plants practically glow and the birds, bees, and other animal life are vibrant and teeming with activity. The difference is palpable, and the teas are of the most exceptional quality I have tasted.
Here are some facts about Biodynamic:
- The founder of biodynamic farming, Rudolf Steiner, envisioned a farm where everything was homemade, recyclable, and sustainable.
- Steiner designed nine homeopathic preparations for biodynamic fertilizer. These preparations include ingredients such as quartz crystal mixed with rainwater, yarrow blossoms, chamomile blossoms, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion flowers, valerian flowers, and horsetail plants.
- Biodynamic products do not contain any additives nor are they refined or filtered. The products are meant to be unadulterated and simple. That is, it’s all about the leaf.
- Biodynamic fertilizers are all natural. These fresh products decompose in the soil and release huge amounts of micronutrients to enrich the soil and add trace minerals like calcium and silica to increase the nutrients in the plants.
- Demeter USA is the only organization in the U.S. that can certify a farm as biodynamic. This non-profit organization has reported a 15-20% increase in the number of applications for certification per year for wine processors and vineyards alone.
- Demeter USA’s standards include guidelines for biological diversity, variety in perennial planting schemes and crop rotations, preservation of green cover, fertilizer that is generated from natural farming processes, and water conservation. Some farms must even create a buffer zone to prevent pesticides from drifting over from neighboring farms.
I will be taking a group of tea lovers with me to the biodynamic tea fields of Sri Lanka from January 7-15, 2011. If you are interested, please contact me and experience the vibrant beauty of this phenomenal method of nurturing the tea plant to perfection.