Aura-Soma Products Limited owns and operates close to 500 acres of lush farmland in Lincolnshire, where we are in a process of development to grow as many of the plants and herbs used in our colour products as the English climate can accommodate. With the acquisition of the first 50 acres in 1995 at Tetford, we were able to implement Chairman Mike Booth’s long-time interest in biodynamic farming, an agricultural method which excludes the use of artificial fertilisers or pesticides and relies on the natural symbiosis between the soil and all the diverse elements, plant-life and creatures involved in a thriving farm.
Here we cultivated calendula, clary sage, melissa, lavender and roses within rotations of grass, clover and cereals. In November 2005 and January 2006, another 439 acres were acquired south of Tetford just outside the village of Hagworthingham. This acreage had been depleted by conventional modern farming using chemical fertilisers and sprays, and so we immediately set out to convert and enrichen the land with the biodynamic growing methods we had successfully implemented in our first 50 acres.
The three-year conversion process of the new land was closely monitored by Demeter, a worldwide biodynamic governing agency which monitors all member farms from their UK office. As with our first acreage, this involved resting the land within the rotations of planting to regenerate nutritive life and activity in the soil. Deep-rooted grass and red clover were planted since their roots help to break up the substructure and give nitrogen back to the soil. The planting of sunflowers, poppies and clary sage helped greatly in the healing of the land, and these together with spelt wheat, barley and beans formed our rotation of crops. The southern boundary of the land borders a large Nature Reserve operated in an organic manner. This complements our planting of many trees and hedge rows which encourages more birds and wildlife to find their home on Shire Farm. We also attend to the health of our bee colonies which are so vital for pollination of the plants. The composting of manure from the herd of Dexter cattle and other organic waste material—as well as use of fermented herbal and mineral preparations as compost additives and field sprays—puts more back into the soil than the growing crops take from the earth, so this has played a large part in achieving the full Demeter certification in such a short three-year period.
Those who work on Shire Farm have been deeply affected by the beauty and forces of the land. Farms & Estates Manager Malcolm Robinson says,
Now we have full Demeter certification for the whole of Shire Farm, from the crops grown on the land to the animals grazing on the meadows. This is a great achievement which we continue to experience daily, to be able to see the life in the soil when we plough and cultivate the land. The lush crops growing so well and coming to fruition at their harvest times is very rewarding, and then to see the crops which we have grown used for the extraction of the oils and essences of the Aura-Soma product range puts the whole cycle into perspective with the great feeling of the soil to the soul.
At the heart of the Demeter philosophy is the interconnectedness of all life forms, an understanding of how each impacts the whole and the importance of replenishing energies and nutrients that are used. Biodynamic agriculture began to be developed in 1924 with a series of lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in Germany to address degraded soil conditions and a deterioration in the health and quality of crops and livestock resulting from the use of chemical fertilisers. Demeter standards, which are even more comprehensive and stringent than those for organic farming, govern every aspect and stage of the growing cycle. The biodynamic farmer goes further to create a completely self-sustaining holistic environment in which the farm is treated as a living (biological) organism capable of producing everything it needs within the dynamics of its own unique elements. At the heart of a biodynamic farm’s success are the essential farm-derived soil preparations and fertilisers full of microbial composts that stimulate the soil’s ecosystem and enhance the plants’ abilities to absorb nutrients, fend off pests and retard the spread of disease. Thus, the emphasis is on integrating the needs as well as the contributions of livestock, insects, trees, plants and crops for the generation and recycling of nutrients to improve soil fertility. Soil health and agricultural production are dependent upon the vital interrelationships among insect, animal, plant and human life. There is also the sensibility, most apparent in plant and animal life, of a time to reap and a time to sow, which draws on an astronomical calendar of cosmic rhythms that is in harmony with nature’s cycles.
This fits in very well with the Aura-Soma perspective of the outer landscape as a mirror of the human inner landscape and the interdependent dyamics of soil to soul.
The astronomical connection takes on more relevance with the discernment by author and geomantic explorer, Richard Leviton, that Shire Farm is the site of a major geomantic wisdom temple of planetary significance. Leviton, a specialist in sacred sites, light temples and angelic-earth activity, describes geomancy as the art and science of figuring out all the connections between the Earth and the galaxy. Sacred sites are considered to be places where vital life force…wells up…[and appears to be] Light-filled, spiritually alive [and able to] elevate our consciousness
To support the energy centers of Shire Farm, the land has been mapped into Chakra areas with standing stones and other natural formations to mirror the human chakra energy system. German sculptress Kerstin Schipper has been incorporating glyphs into the Chakra stones to enhance their natural vibrations and messages. Just as human chakras attract, transform and infuse the human body with life force, so the standing stones at Shire Farm enhance the natural flow and well-being of the energy in the landscape and enrich the fertility of the soil. Walking with the stones in the landscape confirms our relationship with and honours the Being of the Earth, helping to create mutual balance, harmony and inner stillness.
In addition, the planting of indigenous seeds and saplings with our current Tree Planting activities at Shire Farm helps to not only nourish the land, but also to ground and attune the chakras of the human etheric body with the cosmic and earthly Trees of Life, both through the landscape and the harvest. This also complements the
soil to soul connection at the heart of our philosophy and practise.
All this, including the land’s proximity to the Earth’s Prime Meridian longitude of 0, as well as the rich mythology and history of the area, supports a wealth of life-affirming influences in Shire Farm from which many of the plant kingdom energies of the Aura-Soma products are derived.
It is of utmost concern to Mike Booth that all activities, products and processes of the Aura-Soma system have at their heart a caring for the earth which supports us.
Speaking to the deeper nature of biodynamics, it’s important for us to have a thinking and feeling relationship with nature in every part of the life cycle. By collaborating with the "egregor," or consciousness of the land, we can come into harmony between what it wants for its own well-being and what our needs are. This involves an attunement with the overall energetics and elementals of the land, and also the devic (nature) spirits and angelic beings that work with the beingness of each plant and field and section of the farm. In this way we respect the earth as a vital partner in our mutual well-being, because we understand that each must receive what is needed to thrive in health and wholeness so that all may thrive.
Shire Farm is a never-ending labour of love for Aura-Soma Products Limited, and its continued growth and development is vital to maintaining the integrity which drives the heart of our philosophies, practices and products. Farm manager Malcolm Robinson and his staff, together with Chairman Mike Booth, are continually listening to and observing the land for what it needs in order to maintain the
soil to soul interdependent connection among all the alive and elemental aspects of a thriving biodynamic farm including soil nutrition, insects, creatures, devas and humankind. Here are some of our latest activities: