The Agricultural organism

Ueli Hurter

Taking hold of and developing the farm as a living whole is one of the most important principles of the biodynamic Impulse. In particular, Rudolf Steiner introduces three concepts, he speaks of the farm organism, of the farm as an indi- viduality and in lecture 8 of the ego organisation. These concepts can be sources of inspiration in order, time and again, to come a step further in our understanding, in our observation and in our structuring and shaping of our farms.

If we conceive of an agriculture as an organism – whether it is an individual farm, a village or a valley –, then we are speaking of an organism that has been formed through cultivation from nature underlying it. The model for example can be seen in natural organisms in the way in which they are formed, especially with mam- mals. In their case the particular organs are there to totally serve the whole. Cor- respondingly in the farm organism the particular branches of farm work become organs of the farm organism. This opens up a new view of the part that is now seen as an organ, i.e. is there to serve the whole and from this whole receives a large part of its task. The organism is self-contained, that is its principle. This is possible through great inner diversity, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, through a self-contained cycle of substances via fertilizers – soil – feed.

Steiner, by introducing the term ‘agricultural individuality’, actually introduces a cultural concept into agriculture and thus transcends the framework of classical agronomy. The human being as an individuality becomes the model for the farm as a complete entity. Thus it is taken beyond the concept of the organism.

A place that has been developed in the sense of a whole entity and has been cared for over the years – farm, garden, park or valley – develops within itself all the elements, which nature has produced so comprehensively. From this strained relationship between the particular and the universal the identity of the farm is established.