"Koberwitz – what a wonderful time that was! What a lot we experienced there!" That's how Paula Eckardt, a servant of the House of Keyserlingk, begins her memoirs of the Agriculture Course given a hundred years ago in June 2024, which is also the birth of the biodynamic impulse. The same could be said of the anniversary conference, where about 1000 participants from all continents gathered from 7 to 10 February 2024 at the Goetheanum in Dornach (CH). Surprisingly, the political, economic, and agricultural situation in 1924, with galloping inflation, was at least as serious as today. This current situation prompted many farmers around the world to demonstrate. Farmers are expressing their despair. And a few subsidies will not solve the problem in the long term. What they are looking for is much more profound: it's a search for dignity.
As one last conference participant said: "What can the small biodynamic movement contribute to this global slump?" The motto of the conference, "from the sun through the earth for man – may man become sun for earth", served as a guiding theme, evoking the loss of human connection that has led to the possibility of freedom but also to separation from nature, from other human beings and oneself. How can man become the sun for Earth?
In his opening lecture, Tho Ha Vinh outlined three facets of the fundamental role of agriculture in the future, which were explored throughout the conference:
- Transforming the Earth to elevate it, as the poet R. M. Rilke put it: «Erde, ist es nicht dies, was du willst: unsichtbar in uns erstehn? – Ist es dein Traum nicht, einmal unsichtbar zu sein?» ("Earth, isn't this what you want: to become invisible in us? - Isn't it your dream to be invisible one day?") Biodynamic preparations can bring the Earth to life and transform the soil. What's more, they offer many farmers, particularly in the global South, the chance to revive their farming traditions by trying to acquire the necessary local know-how.
- Caring for the communities by caring for the land, the plants, and the animals is the role of the farming organisation, which must increasingly extend to the human collective, as has been shown in several examples. The art of farming has the power to bring together people from all walks of life, of all ages and from all countries, in the spirit of Nelson Mandela's antisegregation principle Ubuntu, which includes all human beings.
- To awaken to the spirit present in every living being, plant, animal and human being, to recognise and respect its dignity and integrity. And to create a living unity in each place that simultaneously is unique and a reflection of the universal: the farm individuality.
These seeds for helping society rediscover the meaning of agriculture in the future were shared through lectures, panels, workshops, open spaces, and so many conversations. They were energised and spread throughout the hearts of all the participants at this congress in a Goetheanum vibrant with life, human warmth, exchanges, movements, surprises, smiles, laughter, songs, music, eurythmy, dances and exhibitions.
We want to thank all the visitors (on-site and online), the contributors, the sponsors and supporters, and the Goetheanum team for this grand celebration.
May the strength of our enthusiasm and commitment help every one of us to get through the trials and tribulations without losing our spiritual sovereignty as farmers.