Visiting the Skafthold Farm is like visiting the farm you read about in fables. There are adorable animals like chickens, cows, and sheep. The chickens run freely, across the pasture, and happily peck about. The dairy cows munch away at their hay and cautiously approach the new visitors. There is a farmer, wearing a hand knitted sweater his son gave him, who warmly welcomes you. For those who do not know, biodynamic farming 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). It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.” During the first few minutes of our visit, the farmer explains a practice of burying a horn filled with manure. Once the manure has matured during its celestial cycle, the nutrient rich fertilizer is spread throughout the fields. Celestial cycle? Magically nutritious manure? These practices of spirituality and moon phases do not seem to belong in farming. However after touring the farm and sitting with the farmer, I realized that biodynamic farming is much more than fantasy.
This farming practice is an example of outstanding sustainable farming. It is practiced in over 50 countries and Skaftholt claims to be the only one in Iceland. Critics will say that the practice is philosophically based and not scientifically. However a biodynamic certification encourages the farmers to be more connected to their land. One way to do this is by having higher standards compared to organic farming. According to The Guardian, 50 percent of the livestock feed needs to come from the land and 10 percent of the land needs to be set aside for biodiversity. These requirements push farmers to think about their land as a living organism from which they need to maintain. Granted biodynamics are not for everyone. However this method will push us to be closer to our land. In a time where there is environmental uncertainty, we need to strive toward becoming closer with what we are harming.