Translation of Agriculture

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Translation of Agriculture

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Translations of Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture Course (Koberwitz, 1924): The Seminal Text of Biodynamic Farming and Organic Agriculture

John Paull*
Environment, Resources & Sustainability, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

Abstract

The Agriculture Course of Dr Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) is the seminal text of biodynamic farming and the organic
agriculture movement. It has appeared in 16 languages. The Austrian New Age philosopher, Dr Rudolf Steiner, presented his
Agriculture Course in the village of Koberwitz, Germany (now Kobierzyce, Poland) in the summer of 1924. The course of
eight lectures laid the foundations for the emergence, over the following two decades, of biodynamic farming and organic
agriculture. There were 111 attendees at the course at Koberwitz, many were farmers, all were Anthroposophists. The
Agriculture Course was presented in German. It was one of the final lecture series that Rudolf Steiner conducted in his
lifetime. It was a course of what Rudolf Steiner called “hints”, to be put to the test, not prescriptions nor dogmas. The
Agriculture Course appeared in print in German in 1926. It was initially available only to members of the Experimental Circle
of Anthroposophic Farmers and Gardeners (until some time after WW2). Members of the Experimental Circle agreed to test
Rudolf Steiner’s ideas and to report the results back to Anthroposophy headquarters at Dornach (on the outskirts of Basel),
Switzerland, with the view to the publication of the results. The first translation of the Agriculture Course appeared in English
in 1929. That translation was by George Kaufmann (later known as George Adams) who brought to the task his years of
masterfully and extemporaneously rendering into English Rudolf Steiner’s lectures in German for audiences. There have been
at least two other translations into English (in 1938 and 1993). The Agriculture Course has been translated into a further 14 (at
least) other languages: French (1943); Swedish (1966); Italian (1973); Danish (1976); Dutch (1977); Spanish (1988); Hebrew
(1989); Norwegian (1992); Romanian (1997); Russian (1997); Serbian (2004); Portuguese (2005); Polish (2007); and
Esperanto (2009). As organic agriculture continues to increasingly attract consumers, advocates, practitioners, and scholars,
interest endures in the seminal text of biodynamics and the organics movement.

Keywords
Anthroposophy, Dornach, Experimental Circle, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Kobierzyce
Received: September 22, 2020 / Accepted: October 23, 2020 / Published online: November 6, 2020