HHK, a German national, ran the Biodynamics course in Emerson college in the 80’s and was responsible for the following texts

  • KOEPF, H.H. (1981): The Principles and Practice of Bio-Dynamic Agriculture. Stonehouse, B. Biological Husbandry: a Scientific Approach to Organic farming, 237-250 Butterworths, London
  • KOEPF, H.H. (1993): Research in Biodynamic Agriculture: Methods and Results. Bio-dynamic Farming and Gardening Association Inc., USA, 78 pp.
  • KOEPF, H.H.; PETTERSSON, B.D.; SCHAUMANN, W. (1976): Biodynamic Agriculture: an introduction. The Anthroposophic Press, 1-224 New York, USA
  • Koepf, H. (1989). The Biodynamic Farm, Agriculture in the service of the Earth and Humanity. Anthroposophic Press, New York, U.S.A.

One of his books is publicised – “Herbert Koepf was a pioneer of biodynamics in Germany, the USA and in the UK. He was an expert teacher, and drew on his own practical background in farming.”

He wrote an article called: “WHAT IS BIO-DYNAMIC AGRICULTURE? in the Summer/Fall 2007 edition of Biodynamics

A not particularly flattering article says this:

Alan Chadwick had been in London during the bombardment of that city by the Germans in World War II. The death and devastation he witnessed there were beyond words, he said, and had utterly destroyed whatever faith in humanity he had earlier possessed. As the captain of a mine sweeper he saw action against the Germans in European waters, and then, more directly, against their allies, the Japanese, who sank his ship off the coast of India. It was then that he was forced to witness the horrible deaths of his crew members. He described to me how he had looked down from the bridge and seen his men screaming in agony as the flesh burned off the bones of their legs during that last battle.

After the war, he came to know the Countess Freya von Moltke in South Africa who eventually became his best friend and muse. Her husband, Helmut von Moltke, had been tortured and murdered by the Nazis for his role in the German resistance movement. Although Alan was very fond of Freya, her two sons, and her mother—and therefore not categorically anti-German—still he would have been wary of Germans in general, especially those who had the airs of Nazis or Nazi sympathizers.

During the decades following the war, one would occasionally meet former Nazis or their family members in various parts of the world. They all seemed to possess the common characteristic of needing to draw you into their way of thinking, or of finding out if, perchance, you shared their world view. I met a man in southern Mexico in 1969 who, over drinks of Tequila, told me that Adolf Hitler was the greatest man who had ever lived. When I disagreed, the lunatic nearly shot me.

In the mid 1980’s that scene strangely repeated itself. The elderly director of a firm that we were doing business with in Germany invited me and an associate to participate—as their guests—in the Faust festival held in Dornach, Switzerland, the international headquarters of the Anthroposophical Society. He was a director of the largest Anthroposophical bank in Europe. During a casual walk we took together in the forest surrounding the Goetheanum, he cursed the bad luck that resulted in Germany’s defeat, declaring that they really should have won that war.

Having learned my lesson in Mexico some years earlier, I affected a non-committal attitude about his opinions. His English was not perfect, nor was my German, and so I could feign a bit of confusion about exactly what was said, and the moment passed without incident or offense.

* * *

So when Herbert Koepf arrived at Santa Cruz in the summer of 1971, Alan Chadwick would have been keen to know if he were a soul of the type kindred to Freya von Moltke, or of a type rather more akin to those who had murdered her husband. I remember the day well and was watching when the two of them met. Alan shook hands politely, said a few courteous words, and then withdrew to one side to get a sense of the man from a distance. When, a few minutes later, Herr Koepf began to lecture about anthorposophical agriculture it was immediately obvious that he was an academic with little practical knowledge. Yes, he could very well have been the world’s expert on the sugar beet or some other equally limited field of specialization. But he seemed to have little appreciation of beauty, and probably could not have told you the difference between a petunia and a snapdragon. He was a curious mixture between a theoretical scientist who lacks experience of the practical world, and an ardent Anthroposophist who can tell you in detail about what Rudolf Steiner said about gnomes, sylphs, undines, and salamanders, but who couldn’t sow a lettuce to save his life. In short: He was a pedantic intellectual full of self-important concepts, but decidedly lacking in practical horticultural wisdom.

Alan politely drifted away unnoticed during Koepf’s long and extremely boring talk. I didn’t see him again in the garden for the rest of that day.


― Contributed by Greg Haynes, February, 2014


* * *


An alternative view of the above events as described by Steve Kaffka in his oral history interview with Ellen Farmer of UCSC on August 31, 2007:


Kaffka: When Francis Edmonds came, he suggested [that] he send Herbert Koepf to Santa Cruz, [and that] Herbert Koepf would like to see this place. I don’t know if you know who he is.

Farmer: I don’t.

Kaffka: If you were to read about biodynamic agriculture, you would find his name as the principal name in the late twentieth century. He wrote the standard book on biodynamic agriculture, in German and in English, and was in what they called the Vorstand in the Anthroposophical Society. There were seven leaders of different divisions of the Anthroposophical Society, and Herbert was the leader of the biodynamic agriculture movement worldwide, and was also teaching biodynamic agriculture at Emerson College. So the next summer he came, and he stayed in my house on Western Drive, which was short on amenities and very primitive, really. It was really extraordinary. Here was another middle-aged man who was willing to stretch his limits. Herbert came and gave a lecture about biodynamic agriculture in its more formal (Steinerian) sense.

It was also interesting that Alan didn’t want to have anything to do with him. He was almost rude. Herbert was there, but Alan didn’t interact with him at all. It surprised me. I think partly Alan’s reaction may have been a residue of Herbert being German, but he was also a separate authority, a different authority, different from Alan. Whatever the reasons, they didn’t interact at all. Herbert subsequently returned several times after the Farm had started, at my invitation. He came on two or three occasions to give lectures and again stayed with us. He became a friend and mentor. He was a scientist and well trained. He was a soil scientist and had been in a German university professorship in soil science at Hohenheim Univeristy in Stuttgart. But he also had the capacity to tolerate cognitive dissonance: to handle, or be interested in and committed to, alternative agriculture notions. I hadn’t met anybody like him before.

Farmer: He could hold all those different things in his head at the same time.

Kaffka: He tried to integrate those different ideas. He became something of a mentor for me. And subsequently, when I [later] left Santa Cruz and had a Fulbright to go to Germany, he helped set that up. We wrote a couple of papers and a book together, later. So it was a lifelong connection for me. It was enriching.”

I’m putting him as missing in action in that I don’t have much information about him but would very much like more – if you have some please get in touch on https://www.considera.org/conts.php


Summer/Fall 2007 Biodynamics 27



The following excerpts are reprinted from the booklet, “What Is Bio-Dynamic Agriculture?” (internal citations omitted), also published in German by Freie Hoschschule für Geisteswissenschaft Goetheanum. These chapters present a concise and clear overview of the biodynamic method of agriculture.


Many substances and forces have to work together to ensure that even the humblest plant grows and ripens in themanner of its species. Natural plant communities develop in areas undisturbed byman. They develop according to the soil and climatic conditions of their locale.Within these living communities many kinds of interrelations exist among the single plant species, and among these and the living world of the soil: Bacteria, fungi, worms and other creatures. Insects, birds and larger and smaller mammals of the area also belong to these communities. It rarely happens that one ormore plant or animal species gains the upper hand over others within such a living complex, as can be the case with weeds and [pests] in cultivated ground. The cyclic exchanges of substances and forces between the soil and plants are almost entirely closed systems, and losses by leaching or erosion areminor. The soil fertility that has developed in the course of centuries is stable.Many-sidedness and well-nigh closed cycles within an area are characteristics of a stable, natural eco-system. Cultivated landscapes present a different picture. Here, productive species are grown in pure stands, rarely inmixed-culture. Managedmeadows and fields give higher yields but contain a narrower range of species than do natural stands. Or course, managed land supports many times the number of animals, supplies more fodder and produces more manure than does a natural system left to itself. Plow and spade promote the aeration of the soil, and the break down of organicmatter is thereby accelerated. The cycles to which substances are subject run their course more quickly and are exposed tomore losses. Natural animal habitats shrink in size. These are some of the conditions under which the high yields of food and fodder are achieved on cultivated soils, while the yield fromareas left in a state of nature is comparatively small. However, “many-sidedness of living communities” and “maximally closed systems” are characteristics to be desired for cultivated areas as well, if these are to remain lastingly fertile and healthy. Specialized vegetable or grain growing with no—or only slight—crop rotations, huge animal herds, and so on, mean, with the present-day demand for high yields, the introduction of large amounts of chemical fertilizers, toxic compounds to control pests, expensive feed concentrates, antibiotics and hormones. Intensification and high yields can be achieved, however, without relying on specialization and the use of objectionable supportivemeasures. Biologicalmanagement also represents an intensive use of a given area. Here too, high yields are obtained, but by othermeans. The biologicallymanaged garden or farmenterprise relies on amany-sided cropping system. Nitrogen-enriching legumes, other humus-encouraging plants, and the use of intercropping and greenmanuring, all raise the yields of cereals and row crops. Animal populations are geared to what the land itself can support. Feed is largely produced on the farm, and feeding aims atmaintaining health and performance. Care of the land, including the planting of hay crops,manure handling, composting, companion planting in the garden, herb raising, careful soil cultivation, unobjectionable protective measures, chosen on the basis of an integrated plan of plant protection, and many othermeasures belong to the biologically managed system. Biologicalmanagementmeans reconciling the life-conditions of a healthy, enduring, producing systemwith economic necessities, and with the skills and interests of the farmer or gardener. There will always be conflicts between biological and economic goals. If the life of the earth and of future generations is to be provided for, the taskmust be carried out with an eye to the totality of nature’s growth. In bio-dynamic agriculture, the “farmas organism” is the formof organization which does justice to these points of view.


Anthroposophy enables us to broaden our knowledge of nature and man.What we explore with our eyes, our hands and other senses in order to arrive at a rational explanationmerely results in a science of dead nature. But this is not a really adequate approach to plants and animals. K. J. Schroer, an instructor of Rudolf Steiner during his student days, wrote: “. . . organization overrides the streamof cause and effect; cause and effect cease to exist purely physically within an organism; they are endowed with a certain character by an indwelling principle of life.” The effects of this principle reveal themselves to the attentive observer in the way the plant builds its shape and substance, as well as in its permanent form. The principle is seen in the innumerablemetamorphoses of the archetypalmotif spread out before us inmany species; one finds it in the process of localization, that is, in environmentally provoked changes of single species or of whole plant communities. Growth, nutrition, propagation and characteristic form-building are activities which appear at the life stage in addition to those of the inorganic processes involved. This second principle is called the life or etheric body by anthroposophical spiritual science. It is active in all living organisms. Anthroposophy offers trainingmethods open to everyone which strengthen the human capacity for ideas and lead in the long run to the perception of the working of this etheric world. Those who cannot perceive this etheric body for themselves can nevertheless acquaint themselves with a concept of it derived fromsupersensible reality. As one becomes familiar with this it throws light on the world of phenomena,makes one’s own thinking and observation richer andmoremany-sided and leads in the end to the attainment of higher perception. At a still higher level a person who does exercises for this purpose comes to a corresponding awareness of human and animal soul life, and lastly, to the spiritual individuality that is active in every human being. The advice given by Rudolf Steiner in his agricultural lec28 Biodynamics Summer/Fall 2007 tures thus sprang froman extended insight into what goes on in nature. This insightmust of course be pursued into depths considerably beyond what is expressed here. But what was communicated dawns in time on the understanding of those who have concerned themselves with it. There are paths that the practical person and scientist can travel to this understanding. One learns to comprehend how the life of the plants is connected with their environment in the widest sense. On the other hand, one can learn to apply the dynamic effects of smallmaterial entities. In the fourth lecture of the agricultural course, Steiner says; “You have now seen what is essential in the discovery of spiritual-scientificmethods for Agriculture, as it is for other spheres of life. Nature and the working of the Spirit throughout Naturemust be recognised on a large scale, in an all-embracing sphere. Materialistic science has tendedmore andmore to the investigation ofminute, restricted spheres.” Nowadays indeed, scientific investigation, having gone to the extreme of breaking up living processes into a tremendous number of separatemechanisms, wants to apply separatemeans to theirmanipulation. The successes and drawbacks ofmodernmethods of agricultural production are founded on such separation. The results are high yields but also diseases, poison sprays and lessened quality. In contrast to this, the foremost endeavor of the bio-dynamic method is to keep each singlemeasure related to life’s overarching wholeness. This is taken account of in themethods ofmanuring, in cultivating the soil, in the observing of cosmic rhythms, in the interrelationships of farmand environment, and so on. The bio-dynamic preparations have dynamic effects. These preparations are specially prepared substances which are applied in very small quantities. Research in the last decade furnishes impressive examples of themanifold influences of trace minerals and organically-active compounds on plant growth. The effects are not always as drastic as those for nutrients out of the fertilizer bag. On that account it would not be right to neglect them. The bio-dynamic preparations are, however, different fromthose naturally occurring, physiologically-active compounds. The preparations are substances in a condition which does not occur in the same formin nature. Plant and animal substances, and in one case amineral, are exposed at certain times of the year to environmental influences. To grasp how and why, it is necessary to enter into the underlying connections in detail. To do that wouldmean going beyond the scope of this article. However, nothing should be accepted on faith. Experimental results, available in ever-increasing number,must decide the issue. The farmer himself is in a position gradually to grasp even themore subtle effects through actual experience. Perhaps as a result of ingrained habits, people are generally not sufficiently clear on the fact of how close andmany-sided is the relationship of earthly life-processes to the great cosmic expanses. Of course there is no question of this in the case of the growing season and the solar year.We are familiar with the warmth rhythminvolved in growing summer and winter grains and perhaps also with the light rhythms of the long- and shortday plants. In addition to the abundance of circadian or one-day rhythms, there are also dozens of knownmoon or tidal rhythms in the animal and plant kingdoms. There are some that are “built into” the organismas it were, and othersmore or less closely related to themomentary extra-terrestrial occurrences. Up until the last few decades traditional farming kept to various moon rhythms (synodic, tropicalmonth, etc.) in sowing, planting, fertilizing and pruning vines and trees and so on. To continue these practices out of piety would amount to superstition.We need amore comprehensive and well-founded understanding. In his lectures on agriculture, Rudolf Steiner drew attention to the relation between the watery element in soil and plants and the phases of themoon. And indeed, in the decades since 1924, research into rhythms has discovered a greatmanymoon rhythms occurring chiefly in water-dwelling organisms and in weather events. Experimental findings are also available, based on the behavior of the fluidmedia. In numerous planting experiments, Maria Thun has singled out fromamong the great host of overlapping rhythms a number of outstanding relationships. Growth types emphasizing either root, leaf, flower or fruit (seed) development can be distinguished, in the case of a number of cultivated plants, as related to the sidereal (i.e., with reference to the zodiac)moon cycle. However, it is important to see that these results rest upon a procedure that takes totality into account. It is not just amatter of seeding or planting: soilmanagement and further treatments such as those with the preparations are pursued in rhythmical sequence. In a doctoral thesis that appeared recently, Thun’s results were confirmed in principle. Taking into account and successfully applying cosmic rhythms, of which there aremany, rests upon exact knowledge, penetration and painstaking observation. Two groups of dynamically effective substances are in use as preparations. There are six substances that are added to compost and other farmmanures . . . . The two preparations Hornmanure (also called preparation 500) and Horn-silica (preparation 501) are sprayed directly on the soil or on the growing plants. As the names suggest, they aremade fromanimalmanure and finely ground quartz, respectively. In the case of the first, the application rate is approximately 200 g per hectar (ca. 2½oz. per acre), which is about 0.1 ppmfor the plow layer (1 ppm—1 g per ton). For the quartz, only a few grams per hectar are used. Both preparations are sprayed after being stirred very thoroughly in water for one hour.Wherever possible, Horn-manure is applied at the time of cultivating the soil in preparation formaking a seed bed. Or else it can be spread in drop formonmoderatelymoist soil in the late afternoon, about the time when the evening damp is beginning to fall. This preparation stimulates soil life. The quartz preparation is sprayed on the green leaf, except for special ormore frequent applications, around the time when the part of the plant destined for use is beginning to develop. Themorning hours of a sunny day are best for the purpose. A wealth of observations have beenmade on the effects of these preparations on growth and ripening; exact field experiments have also beenmade, with some surprisingly high and statistically significant increases in a yield.We can witness the fact that these two preparations belong to the realms of forces which constitute a plant’s environment—the earthly (terrestrial), and the cosmic, influences, respectively. . . . Summer/Fall 2007 Biodynamics 29 THE FARM ORGANISM The pursuit of principles of biological and dynamic procedures leads to a thorough shaping and harmonising of allmeasures— to building the so-called farmorganism, described in the following passage fromthe second lecture of Rudolf Steiner’s agricultural course: “A farmis true to its essential nature, in the best sense of the word, if it is conceived as a kind of individual entity in itself—a self-contained individuality. Every farmshould approximate to this condition. This ideal cannot be absolutely attained, but it should be observed as far as possible.Whatever you need for agricultural production, you should try to possess it within the farmitself (including in the “farm,” needless to say, the due amount of cattle). Properly speaking, anymanures or the like which you bring into the farmfromoutside should be regarded rather as a remedy for a sick farm.” Here, a goal is clearly indicated.Where correctly pursued, it has proven itself over the decades. It presents a contrast to the present-day widely adopted procedures in agriculture at large, organized as it is around specialization, considerable dependence on purchased supplies and aminimal work force. The questionable nature of these procedures is beginning to be felt bymany farmers in their own operations . . . . The farmorganismis properly developed when it is based on the natural conditions of the habitat. In this picture belong the composition of the soils and its parentmaterials, the surface configuration, the regional and local climate, forests,meadows, fields, ponds and streams in the near andmore distant surroundings, andmany other factors. The size of the farmdictates the ideal number and kinds of domestic animals. The farmer has to discover what this is. However, each farmalso represents a certain human and economic situation. The stage of development reached in breeding,mechanization, and building; the economic andmarket situation; the needs and desires of consumers; the interests, education and special skills of the farmer and his co-workers are all decisive factors. All of themaffect a farm’s ormarket garden’s own life and its relationships to the world about it. The greatest possible degree of self-containment, the development of the right relation of soil-depletingmarket crops to soil-improving fodder crops, animal raising and so on are all characteristics of bio-dynamic operations. Of course, thesemust not be confused with those of the old-fashioned self-sufficient farm. A certain amount of concentration in one or another area of production is entirely possible within the bio-dynamic method. Use ismade ofmachines to lighten labor wherever this is indicated. It is important to find the right relation of capitalintensivemechanization to hard and expensive human labor. Self-containment is certainly not a rigid dogma; that would only alienate the farmer fromlife and bring about socially undesirable conditions. Necessary improvementsmust bemade and obvious deficiencies overcome. The animal raising should be a permanent practice, that is, based as far as possible on raising one’s own stock and feed. Existing farms and gardens prove that where there is crop diversity and good soilmanagement on a farm, in private gardens or inmarket gardens, the biocides used to combat weeds, diseases and pests lose the significance that they have in agriculture at large. It is not always easy to do without herbicides, considering today’s labor shortage. Farming and gardening skills are essential. Bio-dynamic growers have worked out satisfactory procedures for themselves. But there are also instances of successful bio-dynamicmanagement of such special crops as fruit and grapes without resort to poisons. Soil cultivation, organic fertilization, cropmanagement, painstaking observation and unquestionable supportivemeasures are all applied. Rudolf Steiner’s advice was actually intended for definite situations. The idea of the necessary self-containment of the farmwas suggested in the temperate-humid zone, where from earliest times diversified farming with stock had been the usual practice. A greatmajority of instances of and wide experience in the development of bio-dynamic farms have arisen in Europe and also in the temperate zones of the other continents. There exists a rich variety of farmtypes which have developed in the course of several decades. The question is often asked, whether thismethod is suited to other climatic zones too. The principles of biological and dynamicmethodsmentioned here in the . . . [previous] sections are generally applicable, but themeans of carrying themout vary fromplace to place. As experience shows, it ismore important to have permanent cover and shading in warm, humid areas than tomaintain humus bymanuring. In warm, dry areas well-ripened compost and protection against over-grazing are important. The bio-dynamic preparations are used just as they are in various climatic zones, without thereby cutting out the possibility of alternative uses. The farmorganism is not built on a rigid systemofmeasures thatmust be taken, but should be adjusted and developed to suit the locale. What has been said thus far applies to farming as well as to commercial vegetable and fruit raising. Vegetables, berries, stone fruits and flowers are grown in numerous private biodynamic gardens around the world. . . . The home garden ought also to be a source of satisfaction and recreation. It keeps the family provided with fresh vegetables and fruits, not tomention a mixed variety of culinary herbs and teas. Blossoming shrubs and ornamentals should not be left out. Variety should be an objective— something which is not always possible in commercial operations. Here too, however, there can be a rotation and one canmake use of soil-improving legumes. Care of the soil, mulching and wind protection should be considered. Spraying with the bio-dynamic preparations can be done intensively; composting should be done very carefully. Companion and border planting, the provision of nesting opportunities, the supplying of flowers to attract butterflies, and various othermeasures offer opportunities to observe nature. The control of diseases and pests is done with non-poisonous remedies and preventive measures. A garden such as described here is an organism in a slightly different sense, although as a rule use is made of brought-in manures or other composting materials.

I’m putting him as missing in action in that I don’t have much information about him but would very much like more – if you have some please get in touch on https://www.considera.org/conts.php