The Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Biodynamics (Virginia)

The JPI focus is on biodynamic preparations

Howdy cowdy! I thought it would have been easier to write while on the road to the west but in fact it hasn’t been so. Well, well, well…After more than 4000 miles driven since the last post in Holy Terroir english version, we are arrived on the other side of the american continent on the west coast. California dreamin’ with its temperature above 100°F (more than 40°C). Here

In the middle of the Appalachian mountains

it is! On this side of the continent, no more Amishs to take me away from writing and no more so long distance driving until the beginning of September when I’ll be back to Toronto. Then, I’ll have to cross the american continent once again from west to east, but in Canada this time.

While on the route 66 for 10 days from Chicago to Los Angeles, I didn’t write as much as I wanted to on Holy Terroir. It’s quite something to cross the whole country overland. I believe strongly that it is the way to do it when we want to discover a new land: ride overland and immerse yourself with the

The preparations are sent all over the country

culture and the belief systems of the people you are going to meet. Many more stories to come about this famous route 66 which kept us Claire and I busy for the last ten days. I will talk about it in the appropriate post dedicated entirely to the route 66: the Mother Road as they say. Claire is now in Los Angeles doing some volunteer work in a permaculture garden very close to Hollywood. Our roads split here after 5 weeks of travelling together, while I’m heading myself towards San Francisco.

Hugh Courtney gives a brief explanation about Biodynamics in the forword he has written in the book “What is biodynamics?”, a compilation of lectures from Rudolf Steiner

So where did we leave you? Since the last post about the Finger Lakes in New York, we went south in Pennsylvania to visit the Kimberton Hills Camphill Village where amongst many other things you’ll be able to find there, the “Stella Natura” moon calendar for North America is being published.

Sherry Wildfeur publishes the North american “Stella Natura” moon calendar

Actually, an old student from Emerson college in the name of Sherry Wildfeur is publishing it now for more than 30 years. Kimberton Camphill is an other vibrant and energetic place to visit if you happen to pass in the region in the future. You’ll find pictures in Holy Terroir french version. This region drains many other project concerning sustainability, organic and biodynamic farming, Steiner schools, CSA(Community Supported Agriculture), etc…

When I talked on the phone with Philippe Armenier, a biodynamic consultant in California about my wish to meet with him this summer, he recommended vividly some places of interest where I should go in the United-States beforehand. The Josephine Porter Institute (JPI) is one of them. In Virginia in the lush and green Appalachian mountains range, the JPI sits few miles away from the scenic Blue ridge parkway which runs north-south on the edge

The horns are stuffed with grounded quartz for the silica preparation #501

of the mountains. Hugh Courtney was expecting us for two days, just enough time for Claire and I to help prepare the silica preparation #501 and the yarrow preparation #502. Jeremiah, his grandson , shown us around. The JPI focus is to make the Biodynamic preparations. To give you an idea, each year they bury no less than 8000 cow horns for the horn manure preparation #500 and stuff 70 stag bladers for the yarrow preparation #502.

“The Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Biodynamics (JPI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the memory of Josephine Porter. With single-minded determination, Josephine Porter carried on the work of making biodynamic agricultural preparations in the United States for nearly 30 years. Many farmers and future farmers came to her Cherry Valley, Pennsylvania farm to learn about biodynamic agriculture and

The quartz is made into a paste mixed with water for the stuffing

preparation making. Hugh Courtney apprenticed with “Josie” each spring and fall season for over seven years. When she died in 1984, Hugh decided to carry on her work by creating JPI. In 1985 the Institute was established in Woolwine, Virginia and is dedicated to making biodynamic preparations, and conducting biodynamic agricultural research and education. JPI’s efforts are concentrated in the areas of biodynamic agriculture, horticulture and forestry.

The preparations are kept in a root cellar

As taught by Josephine Porter, the making of quality biodynamic preparations can only be accomplished by emphasizing the spiritual, as well as the practical, aspects of their production. Those who are new to biodynamic agriculture require a source of quality biodynamic preparations

Dried yarrow flowers

if they are to do their own research and educate themselves about biodynamic agriculture. JPI’s mission is to serve as a reliable source for biodynamic preparations for the beginning or seasoned practitioner; as an education center for all biodynamic practitioners as they begin to make their own preparations; and as a research venue which focuses specifically on the BD preparations.

Biodynamic agriculture originated out of the spiritual scientific research of the Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposphy and Waldorf education. In 1920s Europe, the use of chemicals

Stuffing the stag bladder with the yarrow flowers

in agriculture was causing great concern for a number of farmers and soil scientists; especially with regard to its effects on seed viability, deterioration of food quality, and health related problems in both livestock and crops. In 1924, Steiner presented a series of eight lectures on these issues, which are now published as Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture. During this lecture series, Steiner gave indications for producing several different preparations to be used in agriculture which are now referred to as Biodynamic Preparations (BD preparations).

Colourful blowing baloons inside the bladders, for them to dry and to  take shape

A different viewpoint is required when approaching agriculture from the biodynamic perspective. In our “conventional chemical” or “organic” approach to agriculture, we tend to think in terms of substances (or more specifically, chemical requirements that can be met by this or that substance). In chemical-based agriculture, we bring nitrogen to the soil via

The bladders are then hangged all summer outside

ammonia or urea, and in organic-based agriculture we bring nitrogen via manure. For phosphorous the substance of choice is super-phosphate or rock phosphate. We are thinking in terms of chemical substances or NPK, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the soil. With biodynamic agriculture and biodynamic preparations, we learn to think in terms of forces in addition to substances. This does not mean discarding all knowledge of soil chemistry; it means we need to go beyond solely the chemical point of view. Just as the effects of the force of gravity or the force of magnetism can be observed without actually being able to see these forces, so too can we recognize the forces that are released though biodynamic preparations.”

Finished yarrow preparation #502