Biodynamic Journey to the International Demeter Assembly

Gabe Cipes lives and works at Summerhill Winery in Kelowna, BC. Along with applying permaculture principles to the land, Gabe is transitioning Summerhill to Demeter Status, and is the BC Demeter Representative as part of Demeter International. Demeter is the certification given to farms that meet International Biodynamic standards. Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that emphasizes the holistic development and interrelationships of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. Gabe is a young agrarian with his heart in the earth and hands on the land. Here are his reflections on his recent journey to the U.K. to join Demeter Reps from all over the world!

June 16th 2013 – Conjuring the guides before the journey listening to heart and following the rhythms of the cosmos and the natural world. Frogs, elephants and gnomes came through the lines and colors. Painting to unravel from re-booking a later flight to still make the Assembly. I am sorry to miss Prince Charles’s biodynamic gardens and the stone circle in Avesbury. I took the time to reflect on Canada’s role at the Demeter International assembly. Frogs represent emotional intelligence, empathy and creativity to overcome emotional attachments, elephants are the removers of obstacles, and gnomes are the cleverest of folk.

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Whilst flying and observing the European agricultural landscape I notice that all the farmed zones look to be bordered by hedges and forested areas. This practice of agriculture is done in most places all over Europe. These wild spaces provide for a great diversity of animals, plants and elemental beings to exist; keeping the whole farm ecosystem ‘alive’! We are sorely missing this in our North American conventional farming practices and some Organic practices unless they are bordering a conventional farm. It is in the Standard that all Demeter certified farms must leave at least 10% to wild space for the generational sustainability of the land.  I recommend that all agricultural standards in Canada adopt this principle.
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My partner Kaitlyn taught me to run my hands under water for a while after returning from the  sky to the ground, to re-ground my magnetic field to the Earth. It worked! No air sickness. Walking barefoot on the earth after flying helps too.

This photo is of a statue at Goethe-Bar in Frankfurt Germany Airport. Goethe was a lawyer turned poet and philosopher. He was a pioneer in shaping the ‘holistic’ consciousness that inevitably forged the Biodynamic Movement via Rudolph Steiner.

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The assembly and I had breakfast at the Ruskin Apothecary the evening after arriving to Stroud on day three of the sight-seeing component of the conference. In Kelowna, we will create an Indigenous Apothecary at Summerhill one day soon. There is SO much medicine in Syilxchen/Okanagan territory since it is one of the most bio-diverse regions in all of the world for it’s vast array of micro climates and ecotones.

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Massive swaths of Stinging Nettle sweep across the understory of the wild hedgerows between farms and bordering road sides. Biodynamic preparation 504 is created with Nettle. This plant is quintessential to the Biodynamic practice, human health and well-being of the land.

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I have witnessed White Oak growing in the Okanagan even though it is thought to prefer warmer climates than our winter’s provide. The bark from this tree is used for the Biodynamic preparation 505, and has several medicinal uses.

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I was honored to be in this circle as a guest member to represent Demeter Canada. Check out this short clip I took on my camera!

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Helter Shelter: Demeter certified Community Supported Agriculture Project at Hawkwood College in Stroud. Nice shady place to stir the preps. It was good to see them use wine barrels and sticks like we do at Summerhill. Tying the stick to a high branch or roof makes the stirring easier.
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There stirring the pot was the Denmark Demeter Rep. Brilliant fellow. We discussed how the preparations create the biological resonance in ecosystems for the microbiological kingdom to become enlivened, creating more activity in the soil thus communicating more and specific nutrients to the plants.
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Beans and bamboo in a poly tunnel.

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The building where we had our four day meeting is a flower shaped seven roomed phenomenological research center.  The dome on top is positioned so that the light from the sun during the Summer Solstice shines directly into a pit that leads down into a limestone quarry.
Learn more about it by clicking here!

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Our meetings were full days of discussion around the principles, attitudes and mission of the Biodynamic movement. We are now in communication with the Accreditation council and Demeter International to create a plan to bring Canada back to being a full member. We are also in the process of forming an Advisory Committee to create more Demeter certified farms in Canada. The connections made at this assembly were invaluable. So happy to connect with Jim and Liz from Demeter U.S.A. I see these all being very fruitful relationships to continue growing the Biodynamic movement in Canada.
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There were many interesting new standards to vote on. There is now the first Demeter certified farmed Trout at Ruskin mill. It is a beautiful, handmade, bio-diverse lagoon. Also, debate was ongoing regarding Demeter certified spirits. Canada is not a full member and we did not have a vote this year, so I took the time to listen carefully, take notes and draw a picture. The form of the image looks to be a small dog like a terrier. I wondered why I would draw a terrier. It made sense an hour later when during the solstice ceremony in a phenomenological research center a terrier came to visit me.

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Summer Solstice ceremony Led by Aonghus Gordon and friends.  They made Colloidal Gold to celebrate the Sun. This is done by pouring hydro chloric and Nitric acid onto Gold to dissolve the Gold creating Gold chloride. The Gold chloride is mixed with Tanic acid from Oak bark which brings the gold colloids out in the solution thus creating colloidal Gold. Gold as the sun as Silver as the Moon, Tin – Jupiter, Copper – Venus, Iron – Mars, Mercury – Mercury and Led – Saturn. Short filmhttps://vimeo.com/71317369

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Here are many of the International Demeter representatives including one from Canada:)

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Guiding principles are Health, Care, Fairness and Ecology. The Biodynamic style of gardening has so much diversity everywhere. Perennials, bi-annuals and annuals growing together in harmony. Rows upon rows of different vibrant colors and shapes. I was warmed to see the thoughtfulness and care in all the Demeter certified gardens we visited.

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So many magical aspects of the Ruskin Mill college. It is truly one of the most transformational places I have ever been. It is also a Demeter certified Trout fishery, Charcuterie, Apothecary, Market Garden, phenomenological research center with animal pastures and barns for chickens, cows, horses, pigs, sheeps, goats, not to mention all the wild animals and birds. Incredible communal spaces, gardens and structures. This is a real inspiration for what is to become of Summerhill in our individual way. It supports it’s self in so many realms. The animals are the soul of the agricultural organism. The students of the college are individuals with disassociation disorders. In their three year stay they re-connect with sentient life through working with the animals and the earth. They connect with themselves, reprogramming past trauma and becoming able to concentrate better on things like reading and arithmetic. They also learn  valuable employable skills. The success rate is extremely high.

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After the conference due to the ninja like planning of Iona, Jenny, and Anne, I attempted to sneak up on a dear old friend I haven’t seen for over six years at the Body and Soul festival at the Ballinlough Castle Manor in Westmeath Ireland. I sleuthed my way to a giant circus tent where he was said to be. There from over a thousand yards away his eyes locked from a distance. He thought ‘that looks like Gabe.. walks like Gabe…’ Can’t sneak the sneak. It was so great to connect with Dan and Permaculture tribe in Ireland. DSCF2601

There were many, many zones strewn about the Body and Soul festival. It was comforting to see all the co-creators co-creating. I carry back a few concepts for this winter’s ecotone festival.

In the back ground is the GAMALOTRON
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rM3160LaPmA

Here at the Cambium/Earth Spirit zone there were many willow sculptures, a vegetarian cook kitchen and a fire for acoustic music and storytelling. short film: https://vimeo.com/70388559

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A very nice willow bench… I was inspired by this amongst a myriad of willow sculptures from festivals past that have filled out in foliage becoming living furniture and forts! I picked up a willow sculpting book and a natural basket weaving book whilst in Kinsale Ireland. I am excited to experiment more in Kelowna with this concept and and other natural building technologies.

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Flew back to London for a day to hang out with Jenny. She coordinates empty spaces in the city of London that are for lease. The spaces are leased at no rent to artisans in need of creative space. The Artisans keep the space clean, make renovations and agree to be out in 30 days upon notice. Many small business artists and entrepreneurs exist and thrive being able to build their businesses for months to years in respect to these coordination efforts.

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Nelson Mandela taught us all to stand up for what is right in this world no matter what the personal consequence. The shift is in how we view the Earth and working in harmony with nature. This is a resolution more then it is a revolution. Everything is connected in the circle of life. We in North America need to re-spiritualize and re-wild our relationship with agriculture. We need to become indigenous to the places that we live. We will replace food systems that are hard on the earth with ones that use Biodyanamic and Permaculture principles in co-operation with Traditional Ecological Knowledge.

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Our friend puppeteering the Green Man with thousands upon thousands of children’s behind him singing, wearing costumes, carrying signs and musical instruments, parading through the streets of Bank’s London. In the midst of the parade wearing a long Green Robe was London’s Agricultural Minister there promoting an effort to grow food in the schools and cities.
Movie clip: https://vimeo.com/70388050

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Free the flower! We had long discussions about the branding for Demeter. Many countries had varying approaches to how they wanted to market the Demeter label. Most countries including the U.S. felt to add the word Biodynamic to the label because more people are familiar with biodynamic then they are Demeter. I love this symbol drawn by Rudolph Steiner. I see deep meanings in it. I see the crescent moon which is also the earth supporting the roots which is also the upside down symbol for psychology. Above the roots attached to the stem are leaves which is also the symbol for eternity. Above that is the flower head which is also a seed with a halo of energy around it. What do you see?

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If you are not actively involved in growing food you can Support local farmers whom you can talk to that are growing organically weather they are certified or not. Please support by buying Organic and/or Demeter products! Viva la resolution!

I’d like to thank Demeter Canada for sending me out for this anthroposophic educational experience. As well as Richard Swann and Melvin Mahesh Lourdes  for additional photos.  I look forward to following up with many exiting new endeavors in the near future for Demeter in  North America. I’d also like to thank the Summerhill family business for the support and love!

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