Social Agriculture NOW!

Frank Agrama

The health question is a question of nutrition. The nutrition question is a question of agriculture.The agricultural question is a social question.” ~Karl Konig

We took a little road trip into the hinterlands of WI. To visit our ol’ pals Martha & Nick Karris on their Biodynamic Cranberry Marsh, Nekoosa Farms. The big sky reflecting on the spring fed marsh was soul refreshing. The blushing cranberries plumbing up in the summer sun; the crystal clear reservoir with water lilies & cat tails on the banks; the sand hill cranes, green heron, Ibis, duck & geese; the huge osprey & eagles nests right off the beds. The wild flowers teeming with bees & butterflies, the deer, frogs & dragonfly’s, the voles & chipmunks, turtles & birds of every color…an adventure in reverence for this city-girl!

It was a daily ritual to go fishing & skinny dipping in the spring fed waters. They know all the good fishing spots, where you throw the line in & the huge Northern Pike & Bass jump right on – Every meal a sacred blessing & social experiment. We brought our CSA box from Angelic Organics & eggs from Zinniker Farm to round out the feasts.

Martha & Nick Karris are at the forefront of the fight to keep the CAFO factory farming from moving into their township, which would endanger their pristine air & waters.

One night we watched ‘The Real Dirt on Farmer John’. Friends, if you still haven’t seen this epic tale directed by Taggart Siegel & written by our beloved, eccentric, maverick, Farmer John; the time is now! (there’s so much there, that even if you saw it years ago, its worth another immersion) Documented through home movies & tons of beautifully shot footage, we see the tragio/comic hero’s journey of a human being: Farmer, artist & progressive thinker.

In the late 1960s, after his father’s death & uncle’s suicide, under the loving embrace of his hardworking mother, & the guidance of his own unique star, while going to college in Beloit, John turned his traditional family farm into an experiment of art & agriculture, making it a haven for hippies, radicals & artists.

Then in the late 1980s his local community vilified & harassed him; & the farm debt crisis of the time brought about the tragic collapse of the farm.

Through travel & inner development, defying all odds, John bravely transforms himself & his farm, amid a failing economy, vicious rumors, & arson; creating a revolutionary extended village where people & art thrive alongside agriculture. Through thick & thin, our hero succeeds in creating a bastion of free expression by becoming a bio-dynamic organic small-holder whose business, Angel Organics, is all the buzz. I laughed, I cried, I am ever inspired.

The folks working on the Karris Nekoosa Farm don’t know any anthroposophical concepts, but they can build a prep-stir machine using common sense that is shear perfection, & they are open to putting bio-dynamics into practice, where they see 1st hand the changes in the crop. They take on their tasks with joy & a real love of the land. (They are always looking for good hands, contact Nick if you are serious about working).

One of the first thoughts Rudolf Steiner brings to us in the farmers Course, is that “Agriculture touches every aspect of human life.” Last Michaelmas, when we met up with Farmer John at Angelic Organics, with the Elderberries crew, one of our big questions was: ‘In what ways does bio-dynamics intersect with social justice?’

The Himalayan tea train that's running out of steam - BBC News

The world changed dramatically in Steiner’s lifetime (1861-1925), with advances in communication & transportation technology accompanied by tremendous social unrest in Europe. Many countries were experiencing the crumble of social structures in the old empire with its monarchy, as part of the chaos around WWI (which also brought on the ‘Spanish Flu epidemic’)

Steiner responded to the unrest with ideas & initiatives to encourage social health. Steiner’s concept of the 3-fold Social Organism is founded on 3 ideals:

  • Equity & Equality in our human to human relationships in the ‘Rights Realm’, community empowerment, & government policy;
  • Freedom in our individual & cultural expression, spirituality, art, education & initiative;
  • Cooperation (Sister/Brotherhood) in our Economic activities, allowing everyone’s needs to be met.

Bio-dynamics began in this 3-fold vision of social justice. Some of the 1st farms worked to implement alternative labor/management relations. Associations were formed with businesses, including farms & mills in a cooperative called Der Kommende Tag (“The Coming Day”).

What Is Biodynamics? | Biodynamic Association

Embedded in the 3-fold economic picture is a striving to understand the health of the land as a source of wealth, whose ideal is the Healing or Spiritualizing of the Earth. The original title of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on agriculture was ‘Spiritual Scientific Foundations for a Renewal of Agriculture’.

What Is Biodynamics? | Biodynamic Association

At the core of Steiner’s work is the concern that materialistic thinking is permeating every aspect of human life & becoming a global epidemic. What are the consequences of seeing nature, plants, animals, & people as only physical, things? How do we grow food that nourishes the whole human being, in body, soul, & spirit, recognizing & honoring the spirit in all life, cultivating interdependence, growing community?

What Is Biodynamics? | Biodynamic Association

Steiner suggests that it’s less important to see food as providing substances for our physical body alone, but more significant that food provides fuel for our will.

Daphne Odjig, Enfolding
Daphne Odjig

So if the warmth that is generated by our metabolic system through the food we eat can be seen to have spiritual directives, & moral qualities, what role can food play in social justice? Can food help or hinder the development of this aspect of ourselves that is sensitive to the impact we have on others? How can we encourage the food that is grown & eaten to connect us with the spiritual world so that we may develop as moral human beings?

Kristena West

Steiner suggests that, as spiritual beings, one of the main reasons we even have a physical body, is to be able to convert physical warmth into compassion, empathy & LOVE.

Sea Cooke

A good place to start is to see that  bio-dynamic food can nourish our will to social justice.

Steiner wrestled as we do, with the dynamic of individuals living in community. He tried to express a healthy relationship in this verse:

A healthy social life is found only when, in the mirror of each soul, the whole community finds its reflection, and when, in the whole community, the virtue of each one is living.” ~Rudolf Steiner

Patricia Glibert

What does the mirror show us today?

~hag (special thanks to Cory Eichman)


23 July 2020 – “Speaking with the Stars”: TONIGHT! COMET NEOWISE’S CLOSEST APPROACH TO EARTH: Tonight could be your best chance to see Comet NEOWISE for the next 6,800 years. It’s visible to the naked eye from dark sky sites, & an easy target, look just below the Big Dipper

inkl - Liverpool Echo - Comet Neowise spotted over the river ...


August 8-18 ‘Classroom Alive’ Youth Open-Source Learning in Chicago

We’re starting up with Culture in our community – join young people here in Chicago for a 10 day walking journey – Classroom Alive Chicago!

Exploration & experiencial learning all over Chicagoland, starting at at Elderberries 3-Fold Bio-dynamic Outpost & Cultrual Hub 4251 N. Lincolon Ave. Chicago, IL. 60618

for more info. contact Ultra-Violet Archer, or Frank Agrama

Details TBA


Thank you for forwarding this flier for any interested young people –

Co-sponsored in part by The Rudolf Steiner Branch Chicago Hazel Archer-Ginsberg, Festival & Program Coordinator

August 20-23, 2020 Questions of Courage Youth Conference at Elderberries

Questions of Courage 2020 in Chicago – August 20-23 Elderberries Biodynamic Outpost and 3Fold Cultural Hub 4251 N. Lincolon Ave. Chicago, IL. 60618

August 20: Check-in, share conversation, build the ground for the journey together.

August 21-22: Travel to Wisconsin Move together towards the land, link up with Farmer John and Haidy Angelic Organics Biodynamic Farm, and also with Dana and Phil Burns at Healing Traditions and Alizur farm. Connect with the land, plants, animals, and one another, through creative explorations and “roughin’ it” type amendments. Sleep under the stars or indoors.

August 23: Return to Chicago Enter back into the metropolitan context, into the social questions of urban life, and close the gathering together at Elderberries, setting the ground for future work out of questions of courage that are present.

Other locations and collaborators are currently in dialogue, and will be updated here.

The gathering is essentially about stepping into the living natural element, step by step, making an integral connection, with one another, ourselves, and the elements that support us here on the Earth…”


Thank you Elderberries for giving us an anchor to build our heartland gathering around!

Elderberries Biodynamic Outpost + Threefold Cultural Hub, 4251 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618

Co-sponsored in part by The Rudolf Steiner Branch Chicago, Hazel Archer-Ginsberg, Festival & Program Coordinator

August 27-30, Dr. Michaela Glockler and Nicanor Perlas, + more -HOW WE WILL 2020

SAVE THE DATE – August 27 – 30 2020 Elderberries Biodynamic Outpost and 3Fold Cultural Hub in person in Chicago and also Online

Friends, Dr. Michaela Glockler and Nicanor Perlas, storyteller Melody Brink, biographer Linda Bergh and Seneca Gonzalez! are added to our collaborators for this How We Will – Forming Curative Communities.

We have a few more responses that we are waiting for before we send out our invitations and our website. Turning Point in Time!

At Elderberries 3-fold Bio-Dynamic Outpost 4251 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL. 60618

for more info. contact Frank Agrama or Dottie Zold

Details TBA

Co-sponsored in part by The Rudolf Steiner Branch Chicago, Hazel Archer-Ginsberg, Festival & Program Coordinator

Michael: His Mission & Ours! Michaelmas Festival Sept. 27-29, 2020

Save the Date for Our Michaelmas Festival & Yourth Gathering Sunday 27 September 2 pm – 4 pm, Monday 28 Sept. & Tuesday 29 Sept.  

Sponsered by: The Rudolf Steiner Branch, Elderrberries Biodynamic Outpost & 3-Fold Cultural Hub, & Angelic Organics  Biodymanic Farm

In person & online presentations

Details TBA

contact Dottie Zold or Festivals coordinator Hazel Archer-Ginsberg

2 thoughts on “Social Agriculture NOW!

  1. Hazel,

    You may like this quote from Karl König:

    Farming leads us into the rondel of the seasons.
    The rondel of the year however, leads us directly to and understanding of the Being of Christ that now lives within the sphere of the earth.

    From Karl König’s notes for a lecture in London, June 2, 1939. Cited in Social Farming: Healing Humanity and Earth.

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