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Fri, 13 Apr 2012

Biodynamic cordial business celebrates first year

Tom Morrow's is a Devon-based family-run producer of Demeter-certified biodynamic and organic cordials, the only makers of biodynamic cordial in the UK. The business celebrated its first anniversary in January. Here Tom Morrow tells what the first year was like.

TOTNES (NNA) - Our first year has been an exciting journey - we were led through the seasons by the ripening fruit ending up with a unique and delicious product, and sales that exceeded our expectations. We have met and formed relationships with many lovely people on the way. Now we are looking to expand.

Our story began in January last year when we first started making the cordials. Part of our aim was to support local biodynamic growers and get biodynamic produce into the wider public domain, and after several years of pressing our own apples and making jams and syrups from the hedgerow it felt like a natural progression. The biodynamic community is an inspirational environment and we really enjoy working within it, and it enables us to offer a product that has real integrity, from the plant to the finished cordial in the bottle.

We started from scratch, fitting a new commercial kitchen into a barn next to our house and experimenting with lots of fruit and flavours. We registered with Demeter in May 2011, embarking on some rapid learning, meeting growers, sourcing fruit and deliberating over different techniques to extract the best flavour.

We've been able to involve our family in the manufacturing of the cordials and the business, helping to get our children to understand more about where food and drink comes from. As parents at the South Devon Steiner School our whole family have been inspired by biodynamics, and contact with our local biodynamic growers at Velwell Orchard and Cholwell Farm have brought us nearer to this nurturing and sustainable method of growing and gardening.

In the last year we've sold the cordials to local cafes and shops interested in an alternative to sugary drinks and we found people willing to support local producers. We are also reaching out to conference centres, shops and cafes across the country interested in the biodynamic nature of our product. We have total confidence in the superiority of fruit grown the biodynamic way; it simply tastes better and our customers' comments re-enforce this.

We are now looking for more Demeter fruit and we are keen to learn more about bringing the biodynamic method to our processing and preservation.


If you're interested in getting involved, please contact Tom Morrow's on becky@tomorrowscordial.co.uk.

Item: 120215-01EN Date: 15 February 2012

Copyright 2012 News Network Anthroposophy Limited. All rights reserved. See: www.nna-news.org/copyright/

More NNA reports at: www.nna-news.org/en/

Weleda chief executive steps down

BASEL (NNA) – The CEO of the Swiss-based Weleda Group, Patrick Sirdey (63), has stepped down from this function and as chairman of the Group management, the company has reported.

According to Weleda, Sirdey retired at his own request on 13 January: “With this step he permits the operational management of the Group at the highest level to be entrusted to younger hands,” the company said. Sirdey will officially take his leave at the forthcoming Weleda AG annual general meeting on 1 June 2012. “On that occasion his great achievements during more than 30 years of service for the company will be suitably honoured,” Weleda said.

The administrative board has appointed Peter Braun, head of the Medicines Business Unit, as interim CEO until a final decision on the appointment of a new chief executive is made in early May, when the result will be announced by the administrative board.

Patrick Sirdey, whose contract runs out on 30 June 2012, will continue to look after the managements in Schwäbisch Gmünd (Germany), Huningue (France), Arlesheim (Switzerland) und Vienna (Austria) until 31 May 2012 as a member of Weleda Group management, the company said. He would further be at the disposal of the company until the end of 2012 in his capacity as chairman of the management at Weleda Huningue as well as for special tasks, and would thus maintain his links with Weleda.

Sirdey was only recently honoured by France with the National Order of Merit, the first time in the history of Weleda that an executive has been honoured in this way. (See NNA report of 12 December 2011).


Item: 120207-01EN Date: 7 February 2012

Copyright 2012 News Network Anthroposophy Limited. All rights reserved. See: www.nna-news.org/copyright/

More NNA reports at: www.nna-news.org/en/

A cycle trip to buy a fire engine

The Mulberry Tree Early Years Group in Cromhall, South Gloucestershire, runs a thriving class 1 and 2, kindergarten and parent & toddler group which aims to provide children and their families with an unhurried approach to early childhood. When it needed to expand its premises, the initiative found an unusual new classroom with the help of dedicated fundraisers, as Clare Benson from the project explains.

CROMHALL (NNA) - Since 2001, the Mulberry Tree Early Years Group has provided education for over 150 children and their families from a village hall in rural South Gloucestershire. In the spring of 2011 it became clear that there were a few committed parents who required the choice of Steiner education beyond kindergarten. Thus the idea of a class 1 and 2 was born.

Our motive has always been to provide education working on a not-for-profit basis. What small savings there are, are very small. The site itself has a car park and the idea of using a bus for a classroom began to germinate. But instead of a bus, something much more interesting came along: a former Fire Services Command vehicle (strictly speaking, classified as a fire engine). The reason we ended up with a “fire engine” was because buses are more difficult to insulate. The fire engine is a cross between a panel van and a bus. It was sourced through eBay, and bought after a series of bids which terrified the buyer and shocked the school community. It is twenty years old and has 11,000 miles on the clock because it was only used for major incidents. It is still taken out for a drive and cost £4,500, with another £4,000 for the conversion into a classroom.

The financial challenge to collect all the funds to support this endeavour was taken up by all touched by the need to provide this facility. Individuals and trusts have dug into their pockets and contributed to our project. Others have kept us in their meditative thoughts and prayers. Others still have been inspired to take on a personal challenge and be sponsored.

An ex-Waldorf pupil at university ran a sponsored half-marathon, and a dear single parent cycled on the Winter solstice from the kindergarten in South Gloucestershire to Rudolf Steiner House in London with the intention of using 160 miles of cycle paths.

It was a challenge. Her experience wasn't easy because she and her companion found the cycle track to be in such a bad state that, coupled with the wet weather, their progress was slowed down so much that, although they left before dawn, the chance of making their destination during the shortest day began to recede as the sunlight dwindled.

But they persevered and made it to hospitable overnight accommodation kindly offered by a parent at the Alder Bridge Steiner-Waldorf School near Reading, about 50 miles from London. The next day was easier because they had to abandon the cycle track and use the old A4 route and in the afternoon when the cyclists arrived at Steiner House it was quiet and still as the evening light was waning.

I wonder what inner challenge our parents, friends and others who care for the Mulberry Tree will find the courage to do next this year. There is a Michælic quality in those who take up a challenge for the sake of others. There is an inner gesture which to me is kindled by the generosity of giving yourself to a deed.

The Mulberry Tree “fire engine” provokes questions about the siren, blue lights and water hoses. Little children say “fire engine” gently and smile. The sound of rain pattering on its roof gives one a sense of wellbeing as one listens to the outside from inside.

The fire engine engages the imagination. The story ignites delight in people's hearts generating enthusiasm to engage. It's strengthened our community because it gives parents and teachers hope, and inspires courage and grace. Most of all it brings joy and Waldorf education to the class, their parents and their teacher.


If you would like to support or help these endeavours, contact details can be found on the school's web site at www.mulberrytree.org.uk

Item: 120216-01EN Date: 16 February 2012

Copyright 2012 News Network Anthroposophy Limited. All rights reserved. See: www.nna-news.org/copyright/

More NNA reports at: www.nna-news.org/en/

Documentary “The Challenge Of Rudolf Steiner” to premiere at end of February

LONDON (NNA) - A new documentary about the holistic pioneer Rudolf Steiner by the award-winning documentary film-maker Jonathan Stedall will have its premiere at Rudolf Steiner House in London at the end of February.

The documentary, “The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner”, involved filming in five countries and three continents. The two-part documentary (each part runs for 90 minutes) gives an historical overview of Steiner's life, as well as looking at examples of his legacy around the world.

“This documentary will confront both the challenge of understanding the essence of Steiner's message, as well as the challenge of taking what lay behind that message into the future,” Cupola Productions, the company specially set up to make and distribute the film and raise funding for it, says on its website. “How can his genius help us to tackle the ecological, psychological and spiritual crises that we face today? How do we balance our inner quest with our outer deeds?”

Filming took place in Austria, Switzerland, India, the USA and in Britain. As well as relating the story of Rudolf Steiner's life, the film looks at some of the current work inspired by his insights - in particular the Waldorf School movement, biodynamic agriculture, eurythmy, Camphill communities and Ruskin Mill, Weleda and the worldwide network of anthroposophical medical work, including the Hiscia Institute in Arlesheim, Switzerland, and the Blackthorn Medical Centre in Maidstone, UK.

Stedall was also present at an AGM in London of Triodos Bank, a biographical counsellor training course at Emerson College, a conference in Hyderabad of the Asia Pacific Region of the Anthroposophical Society, and an international medical conference at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, the headquarters of the General Anthroposophical Society.

Another aspect the documentary examines is moves to take Waldorf educational ideas into mainstream schooling through the charter school movement in the USA and the academies programme in Britain.

For Jonathan Stedall the documentary marks the fulfilment of a project which has been long in the making: “The two parallel threads in my life have been my work as a documentary film-maker and my deep interest in the work of Rudolf Steiner,” he told NNA.

“Having made a number of films for the BBC about Camphill schools and village communities in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and the USA, and in 1994 a promotional film for the Steiner Schools Fellowship in Britain, I have now, at last, had the opportunity to explore the broader picture - the life and legacy of someone whose ideas and insights are, I believe, ever more relevant,” Stedall explained.

There is also something else which made this appear the right time for the film-maker to realise this project: “Filming during 2011 - the 150th anniversary year of Steiner's birth - I realised that quite by chance (if you believe there is such a thing as chance) it was my fiftieth year as a filmmaker. And although I have on a number of occasions in the past tried to launch such a project, I am in fact grateful that I have had to wait so long; for although there is much that I could still learn about film-making - and certainly a great deal more about Steiner's extraordinary life and gifts - I am at least marginally more experienced than I was ten or twenty years ago - or even yesterday!”

“The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner” is aimed at television audiences throughout the English speaking world, as well as at the art house and film festival circuits. It will also be available for distribution on DVD.  If funds are forthcoming, there are also plans to make available as separate downloads some of the unused material, such as longer versions of the interviews with the people featured in the documentary.

Last year marked director Jonathan Stedall's fiftieth year as a documentary filmmaker, 27 of those at the BBC, having worked with many prominent figures in public life. His previous films include documentaries on Tolstoy, Gandhi and Carl Jung, and on the work of Camphill. His book “Where on Earth is Heaven?” was published in 2009.


Links: Cupola Productions Ltd.: www.rudolfsteinerfilm.com, Jonathan Stedall: www.jonathanstedall.co.uk

Screenings for 2012 so far announced:


LONDON: Rudolf Steiner House, 35 Park Road London NW1 6XT, 27 February Part One 19.30pm. SHEFFIELD: The Showroom Cinema, Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX, 07974 906421, 3 March Part One 10.00, 4 March Part Two 10.00. OXFORD: Quaker Meeting House, 43 St Giles, Oxford, 17 March 13.30 for 14.00pm. STROUD, Subscription Rooms, George Street, Stroud, GL5 1AE, 18 March Doors 16.30, Part One 17.00, Part Two 20.00. TALK to Stroud Anthroposophical Society about the making of film, 21 March. DARTINGTON: South Devon Steiner School, Hood Manor, Dartington, 21 March Part One 20.00, 29 March Part Two 20.00. WINCHESTER: Conference Scientific and Medical Network Mystics and Scientists, 21 April Part One time tbc. ABERDEEN: Newton Dee Community, Phoenix Community Centre, 28 May Part One 19.30, 29 May Part Two 19.30. BRISTOL: Redland Park United Reformed Church, Whiteladies Road, Bristol BS6 6SA, 9 June Part One 10.00. LONDON: Rudolf Steiner House, 11 June Part Two 19.30. FOREST ROW: Michæl Hall, Kidbrooke Park, Forest Row, East Sussex, RH18 5JA, 30 June Part One time tbc, 1 July Part Two time tbc.


DORNACH: Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland, 25 March Part One 20.00, 26 March Part Two 14.00.

Item: 120210-02EN Date: 10 February 2012

Copyright 2012 News Network Anthroposophy Limited. All rights reserved. See: www.nna-news.org/copyright/

More NNA reports at: www.nna-news.org/en/

Narrow escape for Waldorf class at killing spree in Liege

WITTEN (NNA). A tenth class from the Rudolf Steiner School in Witten, Germany, narrowly escaped the attack by a lone gun fanatic in the Belgian city of Liege shortly before Christmas which ended with the death of five people and the injury of over one hundred more.

On the morning of the attack, the 26 students were on their way to Liege Christmas market accompanied by two teachers. The purpose of the trip was for the children to practice their French in a natural setting.

For an hour the school was left in the dark as to the fate of the pupils when it heard about the attack. Only then was it confirmed that they were safe, upper school teacher Gerti Strothmann-Rath told the online edition of WAZ newspaper. The pupils were taken back to Witten by bus and did not have to attend lessons the next day. Teachers also offered counselling to help them come to terms with what they had experienced.

The Waldorf students were on their way to Liege city centre at 12.30 when they heard explosions and gunshots. At Place Saint-Lambert they ran into people screaming and crying. They shouted to the pupils in French to get themselves to safety.

Police and ambulances were speeding through the city. The students fled and sought protection with the Belgian police. Only then, in a cafe, did they realise what was happening as pictures of the incident were broadcast on Belgian TV. At about 15.00 the police announced that they had the situation in the cordoned off Liege city centre under control.

According to eyewitness accounts, the attacker, a convicted gun fanatic, first let off a hand grenade and then opened fire with a machine gun on a crowd of people waiting at a bus stop near the Christmas market. At the end of the massacre he committed suicide.


Item: 120123-02EN Date: 23 January 2012

Copyright 2012 News Network Anthroposophy Limited. All rights reserved. See: www.nna-news.org/copyright/

More NNA reports at: www.nna-news.org/en/

Camphill Loch Arthur wins prestigious BBC food award

BEESWING, Dumfries (NNA) – The Loch Arthur Camphill community near Dumfries in Scotland has won the “Best Food Producer 2011” award for its cheese in the prestigious BBC Food and Farming awards at the end of last year.

In winning what Loch Arthur called “the Oscars of the food world”, the community was awarded its prize for a product which was described by the radio programme as “a great cheese, absolutely perfect”.

Clearly delighted at having won the award, Barry Graham, who established the Loch Arthur creamery in 1986 and since then has gradually built up the farm shop and other aspects of food production at Loch Arthur, told NNA that establishing a thriving biodynamic farm, creamery and farm shop had helped give an increased sense of pride and purpose to those who work there.

“We see this remarkable Food & Farming award as recognition of the work that we’ve been doing here for 25 years. Through the food we produce we’ve forged wonderful links to the wider community and shown just what can be achieved by a social enterprise working with care and conscience,” Graham said.

Loch Arthur is a working community in South West Scotland which includes men and women with learning disabilities. There are nine houses in which altogether more than 70 people live, including about twenty-eight people in supported tenancies. There is a farm, a large garden, a creamery, a bakery, a wood workshop, a weaving workshop and a thriving farm shop. The farm and creamery are Demeter certified.


Link: www.locharthur.org.uk

Item: 120206-01EN Date: 6 February 2012

Copyright 2012 News Network Anthroposophy Limited. All rights reserved. See: www.nna-news.org/copyright/

More NNA reports at: www.nna-news.org/en/



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