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Past Workshops on Biodynamic Farming

Renewing Human and Natural Systems Through Agriculture, 2009
On-Farm Workshop held at S&S Homestead Farm
Over the last 85 years of the development of Biodynamic Agriculture, practitioners have extended the understanding of plant morphology initiated by poet and scientist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In this workshop, participants will learn these advanced principles of plant metamorphosis through instructive plant demonstrations, through artistic work, and by applying these principles in their own plant observation and collection in the field. Participants will thus better understand the dynamics of biodynamic practice. This 6th annual workshop will also include on-farm slaughter using the USDA mobile unit, harvesting of animal sheaths and demonstration of biodynamic prep making and usage, a farm walk on various topics on how to form a healthy farm organism, and most of all, celebrating farm-produced food and drink.

Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants:
How to become better acquainted with the life on your farm

Henning Sehmsdorf, Ph.D.: S&S Homestead Farm, Director, S&S Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Adjunct Faculty, WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources; Barry Lia, Ph.D.: Educator, S&S Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Regional Coordinator for the North American Biodynamic Apprentice Program and Washington Biodynamic Group; Lia BD Consulting; Heather Mitchell, M.S.: Apprentice, S&S Homestead Farm; Waldorf Teaching Certificate; education consultant; Colleen Conboy: Intern, S&S Homestead Farm; Environonmental Science program at Seattle University and Kelly Palmer-McGrady: Intern, S&S HomesteadFarm; Arts & Sciences at Fairhaven College, Western Washington University.
Jochen Bockemühl’s study of the sequence of leaves that unfold as the plant grows makes us better aquainted with the “morphic body” guiding the plant, and better able to understand the the dynamics of biodynamic work.  Successively sown garden cress plants will demonstrate such a developmental sequence for instruction. Participants will also observe and collect plants on the farm for their own hands-on, phenomenological leaf sequence study, being able to apply the morphic principles of Goethe’s theory of plant metamorphosis. 3 hours.  

Experiencing Goethe’s Morphology Artistically 
Janet Lia: Artist and art educator, with extensive training in biodynamic farming; Waldorf Teacher Training Faculty; AWE Studio
Participants will undertake a hands-on artistic exercise of the concepts of Goethean morphology, taking a plant through growth and decay from seed to seed. 2 hours. 

Applied Morphogenetics: Preliminary experiment with the sowing calendar
Barry Lia
The leaves of arugula plants sown in different constellation signs may show differences reflecting Bockemühl’s morphic principles.  1 hour. 

Making and Applying Biodynamic Preparations on the Farm 
Barry Lia & Hennning Sehmsdorf
Participants will gain hands-on experience in harvesting the animal sheaths in which to ferment the preparations in the soil, filling some of them, burying others, pressing valerian flowers to extract the juice, as well as stirring and spraying preparations. 11 hours.

How to Form a Healthy Farm Organism
Henning Sehmsdorf
This farm walk and discussion explores the biodynamic concept of the farm as an individualized organism in interaction with the ecological, social, economic and spiritual whole of which it is a part.  2 hours.

Celebrating Farm-Produced Food
Elizabeth Simpson, Ph.D.: S&S Homestead Farm; Co-Director, S&S Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Ecological Food Production Educator, Lopez Island School District
Lunches and dinner will be prepared from farm-produced ingredients. Participants will experience the broader context of real food on the farm. Feel free to bring biodynamic wines you would like to share. 5 hour


Renewing Human and Natural Systems Through Agriculture, 2006
On-Farm Biodynamics Workshop held at S&S Homestead Farm, Lopez Island

Developing a New Biodynamic Field Spray and Compost Starter: Results of a Multi-year Project 
Dr. Walter Goldstein, Research Director, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
The 2-hour lecture and discussion will describe the BD field spray developed in the 1990’s and tested in the laboratory and field trials comparing organic, biodynamic, and conventional production methods, and will show how producers can replicate this field spray on their own farms.

The Integrated, Self-Sufficient Farm Organism
Henning Sehmsdorf, S&S Homestead Farm; Director, S&S Center for Sustainable Agriculture
The 2-hour farm tour and discussion explores the biodynamic concept of the farm as an individualized organism in interaction with the ecological, social, economic and spiritual whole of which it is a part.

Training the Next Generation in Biodynamics
Janet Gamble, Garden Student Program Director
The 2-hour session describes the garden student program, vegetable enterprises and internships at Michael Field Agricultural Institute.

Making and Applying Biodynamic Preparations on the Farm 
Dr. Barry Lia, convener of biodynamic growers in Washington State, Henning Sehmsdorf, Walter Goldstein
There will be three sessions over two days demonstrating the techniques of making the herbal, compost and mineral preparations by which biodynamic growers enliven the soil. Participants will gain hands-on experience in harvesting the animal sheaths in which to ferment the preparations in the soil, filling some of them, burying others, pressing valerian flowers to extract the juice, as well as stirring and spraying preparations, as seasonally appropriate. 6 hours.

Making Sausages on the Farm
Elizabeth Simpson, S&S Homestead Farm; Co-Director, S&S Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Biodynamic farming culminates in preparing and enjoying the foods grown on the farm. In this session, participants will be able to make sausage from beef, pork, or lamb grown on pasture and feed produced on the farm according to biodynamic principles. 2 hours.

Celebrating Farm-Produced Food
Lunches and dinner will be prepared from farm-produced ingredients with the help of students from the Farm-to-School program and members of the Food, Faith and Sustainability Group of the Lutheran Church of the San Juans. 3 hours.

Plant Observation and Representation
Barry Lia, and Janet Lia, Waldorf art teacher with extensive training in biodynamic farming
This session explores biodynamic concepts through pictorial representation. Participants observe and draw plants to demonstrate the practice of Goethean science. 2 hours.

Planning Session, Future Farm Project

Christoffer Mann, Director, Michael Field Agricultural Institute, and Henning Sehmsdorf
The 2-hour session will convene representatives from national and local land trusts, the public school district on Lopez Island, Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, teachers and organizers of the farm-to-school program on Lopez Island, and the owners of S&S Homestead Farm, to discuss the means by which the farm’s commitment to biodynamic food production and community-based education can be perpetuated and expanded in the future.

Renewing Human & Natural Systems through Agriculture, 2004
On-Farm Biodynamics Workshop held at S&S Homestead Farm

The Biodynamic Farm Organism and the Economics of Self-Sufficiency
Henning Sehmsdorf, S & S Homestead Farm; Director, S & S Center for Sustainable Agriculture
”Central to biodynamics is the concept that a farm is healthy only as much as it becomes an organism in itself–an individualized, diverse ecosystem guided by the farmer, standing in living interaction with the larger ecological, social, economic, and spiritual realities of which it is part” (BDA, Biennial Report, 2004). This 2-hour farm tour will tell the story of S & S Homestead Farm in its 35-year journey toward becoming an integrated organism that balances plant and animal production to achieve ecological balance. Topics will include : resource self-sufficiency, food security, educational and community outreach, and economic viability.

Biodynamic and Lacto-Fermented Foods: Preparation and Preservation
Elizabeth Simpson, S & S Homestead Farm; Co-Director, S & S Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Traditional cultures preserved food by processes of lacto-fermentation. Biodynamic food preparation, like biodynamic farming, enhances natural microbial action and has benefits far beyond food preservation. Lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhance flavor and digestibility, increase vitamin content, promote the growth of healthy flora in the intestine, and provide antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic enzymes. Culturing dairy products increases beneficial bacteria and protein content. There will be two 2-hour sessions demonstrating processing milk into butter, yogurt, cheese, and whey, and cabbage into sauerkraut.

Horticutural Therapy/ Therapeutic Agriculture
Sarah Wanless, S & S Homestead Farm, Intern, Horticultural Therapy Trainee
Agriculture is the vital connection between the soil and the body. It is through food, its cultivation and celebration, that earth and human communities are physically and spiritually connected. This 90-minute workshop session will be an interactive exploration of how biodynamic agriculture can be therapeutic. After an open, lively discussion identifying specific ways that the earth and individuals need healing, we will visit various farm sites in order to examine how working with the farm organism can promote healing and wholeness. For example, creating a compost pile from start to finish can give purpose, exercise, and life to someone recovering from depression or drug addiction. Caring for animals can build self-confidence in a child with disabilities. How can we naturally and sustainably restore the vitality of the earth and our human selves? These are the questions we will talk and walk together.

Science Looks at Biodynamics
Dr. Lynn Carpenter-Boggs, Soil microbiologist, Department of Plant Pathology, WSU, and Jennifer Reeve, M.S. doctoral student, Department of Soil Sciences, WSU
In this 1-hour session, Dr. Carpenter-Boggs and Jennifer Reeve will offer the scientist’s perspective on Biodynamics. Both have conducted replicated research with biodynamic applications and will discuss possible biological and biochemical mechanisms for the action of the preparations. They will present the results of their own and other studies and introduce a current research project on S & S Homestead Farm comparing the use of lime vs. application of non-commercial microbial (biodynamic) stimulants to improve on-farm forage and hay production.

Making Biodynamic Preparations on the Farm
Laura Riccardi, Lloyd and Harold Nelson, Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Bio-Dynamics (JPI), Woolvine, Virginia. Lloyd and Harold divide their time between JPI and running their family’s biodynamic blueberry farm, “Blueberry Hill.”
Biodynamic growers use nine medicinal-herbal, compost, and mineral preparations to enliven the soil, stimulate plant growth, enhance the decomposition process in compost piles, and ultimately heal the earth. In most of the preparations, plant or mineral ingredients are placed in an animal sheath and fermented in the soil. During Monday’s workshop sessions (6 hours) we will demonstrate these techniques and offer hands-on experience to participants in making several preparations, including silica, yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, dandelion, and the Biodynamic compound preparation. Additional preparations, one of which is based on oak bark, will be made in extra sessions on Tuesday morning.

Shannon Weiler, certified teacher and graduate of the American Eurythmy School, Mt. Shasta, California
Eurythmy is a social art that explores the interaction between nature and spirit in human experience. As a dance form, Eurythmy uses movement and gestures to express the flow of natural and creative energies. Shannon will offer three interactive 1-hour sessions to introduce workshop participants to the practice of eurythmy.

Current Workshops