London - When the Prince of Wales embraced “biodynamic” farming and admitted planting seeds according to phases of the moon, many thought he was probably showing lunar tendencies himself.
But rather than ploughing a lonely furrow, it seems the Prince has inspired a new generation of “cosmic” farmers, who grow fruit and vegetables according to signs of the zodiac and encourage their cows and sheep to develop a personality.
Indeed, personality is so important that Worcestershire biodynamic farmer Sebastian Parsons admits to meeting with other enthusiasts to “talk about the politics of the herd, who is the leader, who is coming up, who is the troublemaker, and who likes to do what”.
Prince Charles’s cows, meanwhile, are said to listen to BBC Radio 2 while they are being milked.
Apple-grower Julian Temperley – father of fashion designer Alice – is among those crediting the Prince with influencing commercial growers, domestic gardeners and consumers to take up “super-organic” produce in the belief it improves the quality of crops and livestock.
“It has become something of a revolution,” Mr Temperley said. “Prince Charles is doing things that we should look at. He is a wonderful guy to listen to.”
The Prince first learnt about biodynamics during a trip to Australia in 2005. The theory, developed almost a century ago by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, bases its planting schedule on the astrological calendar and the positions of the Sun, Moon and Saturn.
Prince Charles later organised workshops for farmers and gardeners who work his land in the Duchy of Cornwall and at his Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire.
Biodynamic farming involves the use of homeopathic potions sprayed on to leaves and soil fertilisers developed using horn manure – prepared by rotting down dung by stuffing it into cow horns which are then buried. The potions are said to generate harmony between the land and the cattle. Although the Prince is not a certified biodynamic farmer, according to the Duchy website, his Ayrshire dairy cows are treated better than most and are milked less, which means they live twice as long. They also have names, such as Duchy Buttermilk.
Mr Temperley was speaking at the launch of ‘Flavour First’, a campaign set up by Tom Parker Bowles, the Prince’s stepson and Mail on Sunday writer, to promote fresh, great-tasting produce while rising above “hyped-up fads”.
Prince Charles’s influence is being credited with doubling the membership of the Biodynamic Association (BDA), which in five years has grown from 500 to 1,000. Farmers using the technique include former Formula 1 world champion Jody Scheckter, who has a 2,500-acre farm in Hampshire.
Clarence House declined to comment on biodynamics but said: “The Prince has been pioneering agriculture techniques for over 30 years and continues to do so.” - Mail On Sunday