|Born||19 February 1899|
|Died||30 November 1961|
Ehrenfried Pfeiffer (19 February 1899 in Munich, Germany – 30 November 1961 in Spring Valley, New York, United States) was a German scientist, soil scientist, leading advocate of biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophist and student of Rudolf Steiner.
Ehrenfried Pfeiffer began work with Rudolf Steiner in 1920 to develop and install special diffuse stage lighting for eurythmy performances on the stage of the first Goetheanum. 800-acre (3.2 km2) experimental biodynamic Loverendale farm in Domburg in the Netherlands. This farm was set up to carry out some of the agricultural studies of the Goetheanum laboratory. The work of testing and developing Rudolf Steiner's Agriculture Course of 1924 was an international enterprise coordinated by Pfeiffer at the Natural Science Section of the Goetheanum. Pfeiffer’s most influential book 'Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening' was published in 1938 simultaneously in at least five languages, English, German, Dutch, French, and Italian. The following year, and just months before the outbreak of World War II, Pfeiffer ran Britain's first biodynamics conference, the Betteshanger Summer School and Conference, at the estate of Lord Northbourne in Kent. Pfeiffer's Betteshanger Conference is regarded as the 'missing link' between biodynamic agriculture and organic farming because the following year (1940) its host, Lord Northbourne, published his manifesto of organic farming 'Look to the Land' in which he coined the term 'organic farming'.After Steiner's death in 1925, Pfeiffer worked in the private research laboratory at the Goetheanum in Dornach, (Switzerland). He became manager and director of the
Pfeiffer first visited the U.S. in 1933 to lecture to a group of anthroposophists at the Threefold Farm in Spring Valley, New York on biodynamic farming.His consulting was essential to the development of biodynamic agriculture in the U.S.
Pfeiffer developed an analytical method using copper chloride crystallization and used this technique as a blood test for detecting cancer.As a result, Pfeiffer was invited to the U.S. in 1937 to work at the Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia While in the U.S., he continued to consult with those interested in biodynamic farming and helped to form the Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association in 1938. in 1940 he immigrated to the U.S. from Switzerland with his wife Adelheid, escaping the advance of German troops into France. They brought with them their son Christoph and daughter Wiltraud.
With the advent of World War II in Europe, Pfeiffer took his family to Kimberton, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia), where Alaric Myrin offered Pfeiffer the opportunity to create a model biodynamic farm and training program. Starting in the late 1930s he taught biodynamic farming and gardening at the Kimberton Farm School. One of his students, Paul Keene, who worked and studied with Pfeiffer there for two years and shortly thereafter co-founded Walnut Acres, recalls: "... he helped bring all of life together for us in a definite coherent pattern"
While at Kimberton, Pfeiffer led the initiative to found the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, and to start its journal. While at Kimberton, Pfeiffer also met J.I. Rodale, founder of Organic Gardening and Farming magazine, and of the organic movement in the USA. This relationship gave biodynamics a little-known place in the history of the American organic movement. Interpersonal difficulties - a motif of Pfeiffer's life - brought to a close the Kimberton Farms chapter.
Aiming to continue his work training biodynamic farmers, Pfeiffer bought a farm in Chester, New York, where a small colony arose focused on farming, education, and the administration of the Biodynamic Association.
His copper chloride sensitive crystallization theory brought him an honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine from Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital in Philadelphia in 1939.He studied chemistry and became a professor of nutrition in 1956. Pfeiffer wrote on the dangers of pesticides and DDT and Rachel Carson consulted with him when she was writing Silent Spring.
In 1961, at his home in Spring Valley, N.Y., he suffered from a series of heart attacks, lingering for several days, but ultimately was not given the proper medical care and died. His wife subsequently took over the operation of their farm in Chester, New York.
Pfeiffer was a pioneer of biodynamic agriculture in Europe, Britain,and America. He is most widely known for his innovative work in composting. He conducted extensive research on the preparation and use of biodynamic compost and was the inventor of BD Compost Starter, a compost inoculant. For many years Pfeiffer served as a compost consultant to municipal compost facilities, most notably Oakland, California, as well as countries in the Caribbean, Europe, and the Far East. A technical difficulty with the resulting compost, that it would not spread readily with the commonly used fertilizer spreader, could not be overcome and the project ultimately failed.
Pfeiffer invented two anthroposophic Image forming methods, a method using a round filter chromatography (circular chromatography or chroma test) and the copper chloride crystallization method,developed together with Erika Sabarth. In the latter method, a solution of copper chloride and the test solution is allowed to evaporate. The pattern of the copper chloride crystals can be "read" based on the patterns of known samples. Similarly, the patterns of the circular chromatographs can be "read" based on known samples. Both methods require much practice to "read" and interpret the images.
Pfeiffer's work at Hahnemann earned him an honorary Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital of Philadelphia on June 8, 1939 at the 91st Commencement ceremony.
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, economist, esotericist, and claimed clairvoyant. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.
Organic farming is an alternative agricultural system which originated early in the 20th century in reaction to rapidly changing farming practices. Certified organic agriculture accounts for 70 million hectares globally, with over half of that total in Australia. Organic farming continues to be developed by various organizations today. It is defined by the use of fertilizers of organic origin such as compost manure, green manure, and bone meal and places emphasis on techniques such as crop rotation and companion planting. Biological pest control, mixed cropping and the fostering of insect predators are encouraged. Organic standards are designed to allow the use of naturally occurring substances while prohibiting or strictly limiting synthetic substances. For instance, naturally occurring pesticides such as pyrethrin and rotenone are permitted, while synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are generally prohibited. Synthetic substances that are allowed include, for example, copper sulfate, elemental sulfur and Ivermectin. Genetically modified organisms, nanomaterials, human sewage sludge, plant growth regulators, hormones, and antibiotic use in livestock husbandry are prohibited. Reasons for advocation of organic farming include advantages in sustainability, openness, self-sufficiency, autonomy/independence, health, food security, and food safety.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to organic gardening and farming:
Vegan organic gardening and farming is the organic cultivation and production of food crops and other crops with a minimal amount of exploitation or harm to any animal. Vegan gardening and stock-free farming methods use no animal products or by-products, such as bloodmeal, fish products, bone meal, feces, or other animal-origin matter, because the production of these materials is viewed as either harming animals directly, or being associated with the exploitation and consequent suffering of animals. Some of these materials are by-products of animal husbandry, created during the process of cultivating animals for the production of meat, milk, skins, furs, entertainment, labor, or companionship; the sale of by-products decreases expenses and increases profit for those engaged in animal husbandry, and therefore helps support the animal husbandry industry, an outcome most vegans find unacceptable.
The organic movement broadly refers to the organizations and individuals involved worldwide in the promotion of organic farming and other organic products. It started around the first half of the 20th century, when modern large-scale agricultural practices began to appear.
Sir Albert Howard was an English botanist, and the first westerner to document and publish the Vedic Indian techniques of sustainable agriculture, now better known as organic farming. After spending considerable time learning from Indian peasants and the pests present in their soil, he called these two his professors. He was a principal figure in the early organic enlightenment in the western world. He is considered by many in the English-speaking world to have been, along with Rudolf Steiner and Eve Balfour, one of the key evangelists of ancient Indian techniques of organic agriculture.
Biodynamic agriculture is a form of alternative agriculture very similar to organic farming, but it includes various esoteric concepts drawn from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). Initially developed in 1924, it was the first of the organic agriculture movements. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, is a loose network of national organizations that facilitate homestays on organic farms. Australia with 2,600 hosts has the most host farms and enterprises, followed by New Zealand with 2,340 and United States with 2,052 hosts. The UK has 688 WWOOF hosts. While there are WWOOF hosts in 210 countries around the world, no central list or organization encompasses all WWOOF hosts. As there is no single international WWOOF membership, all recognised WWOOF country organizations strive to maintain similar standards, and work together to promote the aims of WWOOF.
Biodynamic wines are wines made employing biodynamic methods both to grow the fruit and during the post-harvest processing. Biodynamic wine production uses organic farming methods while also employing soil supplements prepared according to Rudolf Steiner's formulas, following a planting calendar that depends upon astrological configurations, and treating the earth as "a living and receptive organism.
Organic horticulture is the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants by following the essential principles of organic agriculture in soil building and conservation, pest management, and heirloom variety preservation.
Demeter International is the largest certification organization for biodynamic agriculture, and is one of three predominant organic certifiers. Its name is a reference to Demeter, the Greek goddess of grain and fertility. Demeter Biodynamic Certification is used in over 50 countries to verify that biodynamic products meet international standards in production and processing. The Demeter certification program was established in 1928, and as such was the first ecological label for organically produced foods.
Traditional farming was the original type of agriculture, and has been practiced for thousands of years. All traditional farming is now considered to be "organic farming" although at the time there were no known inorganic methods. For example, forest gardening, a fully organic food production system which dates from prehistoric times, is thought to be the world's oldest and most resilient agroecosystem. After the industrial revolution had introduced inorganic methods, most of which were not well developed and had serious side effects. An organic movement began in the 1940s as a reaction to agriculture's growing reliance on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. The history of this modern revival of organic farming dates back to the first half of the 20th century at a time when there was a growing reliance on these new synthetic, non-organic methods.
The North American Biodynamic Association is a United States-based company that promotes Biodynamic agriculture system through educational and research programs and has headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Walter Ernest Christopher James, 4th Baron Northbourne, was an English agriculturalist, author and rower who competed in the 1920 Summer Olympics.
Betteshanger is a village near Deal in East Kent, England. It gave its name to the largest of the four chief collieries of the Kent coalfield. The population of the village is included in the civil parish of Northbourne.
Alan Chadwick, English master gardener, was a leading innovator of organic farming techniques and influential educator in the field of biodynamic/French intensive gardening. He was a student of Rudolf Steiner and is often cited as inspirational to the development of the "California Cuisine" movement. The Chadwick restaurant in Beverly Hills was named after him. His grave is marked by a stupa at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in California. Chadwick is the subject of a 2013 retrospective by a former University of California, Santa Cruz professor, Paul Lee, called There Is a Garden in the Mind: A Memoir of Alan Chadwick and the Organic Movement in California.
Marjorie Spock was an environmentalist, author and poet, best known for her influence on Rachel Carson when the latter was writing Silent Spring. Spock was also a noted Waldorf teacher, eurythmist, biodynamic gardener and anthroposophist.
Hans Krüger was a pharmacist, anthroposophist, botanist, lecturer and researcher.
The Australian Organic Farming and Gardening Society (1944–1955) was founded in Sydney on 5 October 1944, during the closing months of World War II. It came into being two years before the United Kingdom's Soil Association, thus becoming the first agriculture organisation in the world to call itself an "organic" association.
Margaret Cross was a British educator and school principal, a pioneer of Co-education and of Steiner Waldorf education in Britain as well as of Biodynamic agriculture. Together with Hannah Clark she founded the Kings Langley Priory School, later the Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley, which was closed in March 2019.