The Sauce (TS): Perhaps we can start with sharing about your journey or experiences in farming so far?
Derrick (DR): I was kinda thrown into farming because of a car accident after a Biodynamics conference in Namibia. I was a co-worker (volunteer) with the children/School community of Camphill Hermanus (South Africa) but for my recuperation and therapeutic healing I moved to the adult/Farm community and became part of the food garden team. I dove into gardening work even with my body mould on. When I moved back to be with the children, I was no longer in the garden. Only in 2011, when I joined Camphill Ballybay (Ireland) adult community did I request to be fully in the garden. For three years, I was involved in the day-to-day work of a three-acre veg and fruit garden and I helped out a little in the farm side of things, for example the milking of cows.
At the turn of the millennium, I was convinced we can have agriculture that treats the land and everything on it holistically and really honours the Earth like “we borrowed it from our children”.
TS: How did you get into Biodynamics practices and what have been your experiences with this approach?
DR: I was introduced to Biodynamic rice and products when I was helping out at Brown Rice Paradise (Singapore) and finally curiosity got the better of us and the directors of Brown Rice Paradise invited Terry Forman to give some lectures and conduct a backyard gardening workshop. I helped out with registration and got to attend all the events. Through Terry, I found the radical holism of Anthroposophy which I have been longing for since I was 14. Three years later in 1999, I was in New Zealand and attended a Biodynamic workshop as part of my study. Our college land was maintained in a Biodynamic way and I tasted Kiwi fruits bursting with flavours. Through that year, I encountered both saline land and wasteland turned into fully fertile gardens and farms. At the turn of the millennium, I was convinced we can have agriculture that treats the land and everything on it holistically and really honours the Earth like “we borrowed it from our children”.
It is called Regenerative agriculture now and it has been part of Biodynamics since the 1920s. I looked for communities practising Biodynamic gardening and farming even though I was training to work with children and education. I joined Camphill Hermanus (South Africa), living and working with children with special needs and I cooked for the children using ingredients directly from the garden a stone’s throw away. When the children were on winter holidays, I found myself at a Biodynamic conference in Namibia. I was amazed by the different ways of practicing Biodynamic and some have roaming wild animals as part of their agriculture landscape. This has been my experience of Biodynamics; expanding the circles of care and consideration.
TS: What inspires you?
DR: That we are on a living Earth and both the world and cosmos are wise. There is so much to learn and to know deeply in this world. The many people who work tirelessly to bring connections between people, and between people and the world. People who care – those who stack stones on a path; those who grow and/or collect seeds, those who feed strays, those who smile at strangers or just smile.
TS: What are some of your experiences working with soil?
DR: An important aspect of Biodynamics is recognising the aliveness of soil so looking after the welfare of the soil is part of gardening. We also work with the moon, planets and zodiac influences on the soil so we are also informed on the times for different kinds of landwork. Working with the Biodynamics preparations made from cow manure, quartz and herbs also give a boost to the soil, plants and compost, allowing them to be more sensitive to the other elements of the environment and promote communication and sharing.
TS: How do you see farming with soil and other soil-less techniques?
DR: Soil is known now to be home to most varieties of life and it is mirrored in our gut. Latest research has shown that our gut microbiome are an indicator of health and illness: not just physical but also psychological. Good soil produces nutrient-dense food which is what we need for our well-being and if I may add, it is what we need to being truly connected to this Earth we call Home. Industrial, intensive and chemical agriculture are already producing nutrient-starved food.
Are we willing to sacrifice even more quality for the sake of quantity that could spell irreversible changes to our genetic makeup?
…we are on a living Earth; both the world and cosmos are wise. There is so much to learn and to know deeply in this world.
Derrick Lim is born and bred in Singapore, starving Ethiopian children woke Derrick’s wondering heart and led to his involvement in different aspects of civil society. At 30, Derrick sojourned further to live and work with people of various abilities in intentional communities from New Zealand to South Africa, U.K. to Ireland. There, he experienced different roles – from caring for a child, to running a household, being a shopkeeper to a full-time gardener. After 15 years, he’s settling back into Singapore with his spouse, hoping to contribute in her becoming. Together, they share the realisation that each person can improve self and society; with each step, we are all being moved along.