Avena Botanicals is the first Certified Biodynamic farm in Maine, specializing in high quality hand-crafted herbal remedies. It’s founder, Deb Soule, began studying the medicinal uses of herbs at the age of 16. In 1985, she launched her company from a small room in her home with a simple goal: to help people heal using plants. Today, everything at Avena Botanicals is still done by hand, from seed planting, to pouring tinctures, to shipping packages. Their herbal products are manufactured on-site using biodynamic herbs grown on the farm. Continue reading to learn more about biodynamic farming and for a special Q&A with Deb!
“We make herbal remedies using fresh, organic & biodynamic herbs. These vital plants along with a sacred connection to place promote wellness of the body, mind, and spirit and encourage humans to be mindful and loving stewards of the Earth.” -Deb Soule, Avena Botanicals Founder & Herbalist
Biodynamics is an approach to farming based on the spiritual insights and practical suggestions of Dr. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy. The principles of biodynamic farming have been developed through the collaboration of many farmers and researchers since the early 1920’s. One of the core beliefs and practices of biodynamics is to help heal the Earth.
Biodynamic farmers manage their farms as a diversified, self-contained, self-sustaining organism. According to the Biodynamic Association, “It is the biodiversity of the farm, organized so that the waste of one part of the farm becomes the energy for another, that results in an increase in the farm’s capacity for self-renewal and ultimately makes the farm sustainable.” Biodynamic farms don’t use GMOs, synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides. Instead, they rely on methods such as compost, green manures, cover crops, and companion plants.
Q&A with Deb Soule
How were you called to do this type of work?
My grandmother introduced me to the beauty and stillness of the natural world and transmitted to me as a young child a deep reverence, curiosity and love for plants, trees and birds. I was given my first medicinal herb book written by Juliette de Bairacli Levy, at age 16 which inspired me to begin herb gardening and studying the healing properties of plants. Biodynamics came into my life in the mid 1980’s and I immediately felt a deep resonance with the spiritual and ecological principles biodynamics embodies.
In your words, what is the goal of biodynamic farming?
The biodynamic system of gardening and farming relates the ecology of Earth to the larger cosmos, views the soil and farm as living organisms, places significant attention on the health, vitality and consciousness of soil, compost and the gardener/farmer, consciously works with seasonal, solar, and lunar rhythms, and recognizes and nurtures the spiritual presences and unseen life forces active in the garden.
Tell us about the role of spirituality in biodynamics.
It is in the spiritual realm that biodynamic farming goes beyond standard organic agricultural practices. Dr. Rudolf Steiner taught that behind all physical substance is a spiritual impulse. This spiritual impulse connects the material world with the larger cosmos and with the unseen life forces that give energy and physical form to minerals, animals, plants, and humans.
One of the core beliefs of biodynamics is to help heal the earth by using specially made preparations that are applied to the soil, leaves and compost pile following the natural rhythms of the day, the seasons, and the moon and planets. Steiner believed that the vitality of the food and herbs we ingest, revitalized by the use of the biodynamic preparations, would help humans become more fully conscious, more spiritually awake, more aware of the divine energy present in all of life.
How are biodynamic principles used in the production of Avena Botanicals products?
First and foremost I practice gratitude on a daily basis starting with arising at dawn and going outside to offer my heart-felt thanks for the new day and for the opportunity to continue to learn, grow and to give back to our Mother Earth as she is so generous. We follow the biodynamic planting calendar closely when we seed and transplant seedlings, when stirring and spraying the different biodynamic preparations and when building our compost piles. I am continuously learning how to create vitally alive compost and to better understand the biodynamic compost preparations which are made from 6 different medicinal herbs. As an herbalist, I strive to be mindful and joyful when gathering our herbs so that the energy infused in Avena’s herbal products feels harmonious, balanced and alive and in turn spiritually supports a person’s healing journey.
Look for herbal products including glycerites, elixirs, and sprays at your neighborhood Kimberton Whole Foods! We especially love Avena Botanicals’ Rose Petal Elixir and their line of women’s health products, including Into the Flow, Menopause Support, Menstrual Support, and Urinary Tract Support.