Hugh Lovel is a farmer, educator, and scientist well-known for his experience in biodynamic farming and operating the first CSA in Georgia. He hosted the South-East Biodynamic Conferences at his home for 12 years and since 2005 he has spent his time between Australia and the U.S. teaching and writing. He founded the Quantum Agriculture Consultancy with his wife, Shabari Bird, and has just released a new book, Quantum Agriculture: Biodynamics and Beyond, which covers the practical applications of biodynamics and its ethical and ecological approaches to agriculture.
Lovel will lead a day-long biodynamics workshop at the 18th Annual Georgia Organics Conference, Recipe for Change: Better Farms, Better Flavors, which will be held on Feb. 20-21, 2015, at the Classic Center in Athens, Ga. We talked to Lovel about his new book, and about how he became involved with agriculture and biodynamic farming.
How did you become interested in biodynamic farming?
Shabari introduced it to me back in 1977. Back then she was my next door neighbor, and she had gotten Peter Escher, a well-known biodynamic consultant, to stop in and visit. Peter really was a great introduction to biodynamics. He was working at that time with Barbara and Kerry Sullivan at the Mother Earth News farm in North Carolina which was founded in 1970 and has since sought to promote ecology and self-sufficiency.
What are the environmental and economic benefits of growing biodynamically?
Because biodynamics involves a different way of thinking about agriculture, it can take a bit of fumbling around at first. It is a holistic approach, so the benefits include everything—soil biology, fertility, flavour, nutrition, better weed and pest control, easier breeding, better animal health, better profitability, and greater ease the more progress you make. Just about any parameter you can name improves.
What about biodynamics makes it unique from regular organic farming?
Biodynamics clearly recognizes that organization arises at boundaries. Its origins go back to projective geometry where you describe living organisms by both their content and their context. Rudolf Steiner, who launched biodynamic agriculture, asserted that we would not have a mathematics of living organisms until we used both point centered and contextual geometric systems to describe the boundaries of living organisms. In other words, what gives rise to life is the interaction of the context with the content of the organism. Living organisms draw a stream of order to themselves out of their surroundings, which ultimately comes down to the neighborhood of the sun, moon and planets against the starry background.