News - November 2009

Peter Kunz, seed selector (left): a charismatic pioneer achieves his aims

Pioneer work for tomorrow’s bread

Based in Hombrechtikon, Peter Kunz’s ‘Wheat Research’ business has been conducting research for 25 years on wheat and spelt varieties specially suited to organic agriculture. 

There was once a young, very idealistic agronomist, who made it his task to cultivate wheat and spelt varieties suited to organic agriculture. After achieving the first cross-breeding of two cereals in 1984, he created his first variety of spelt, ‘Alkor’. Since then his business has grown to a dozen employees. 

Perseverance pays.
In the first years, the new seeds changed hands only among bio-dynamic farms, because the market was strictly regulated. At the time, to create one’s own seeds was considered completely utopian, because the cultivation of cereals was entirely a matter for public authorities. 

Peter Kunz and his colleagues succeeded in their objectives, despite such a setback as the loss of their entire stock due to a flood. Finally, in 1996, ‘Alkor’ was officially recognised as a seed variety and, in 2000, definitively authorised.

The cultivation of cereal varieties specially adapted to organic farming meets a great need, particularly from agronomy, baking and nutritional points of view. One can hardly imagine that, in Switzerland and Germany, there are now 16 officially listed varieties of organic wheat and spelt created by Peter Kunz.

Consolidating success for his anniversary.
This year Peter Kunz’s business celebrated its 25th year. Throughout that time, its work has been supported by donations from both individuals and foundations now numbering 250 and 12 respectively.

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Isidor Steinemann, courageous and active

The “GEN Child” of Isidor

In the first week of July, non-GM Swiss agriculture received powerful support from Isidor Steinermann from Arlesheim, near Basel. On his own initiative, this 11 year old Steiner school pupil collected more than 700 signatures in favour of non-GM natural agriculture. But he did not want to send his petition by post to its intended recipient, the Economics Minister, Doris Leuthard; so he took it on foot from Basel to Berne!

Isidor had the idea in the spring of 2008, after having taken part in a ‘Sow the Future’ demonstration. He met with a lot of support, and in the summer of 2008 went with his mother to reconnoitre the route and organise overnight stays on farms.

His parents supported the initiative. Some friends went with him, bringing with them their parents and other friends. In the end, 30 to 40 people took part in the march, which set off from Basel on Sunday 28 June. The ‘action’ was called ‘GEN Child’.

As the Economy Minister was away on 4 July, when Isidor arrived in Berne, she could not herself receive the signatures. So Isidor took his petition to the national office of Basel’s Federal Representative, Mayn Graf, who then passed it on to the Minister.

The next day, at the Annual Meeting of the Swiss Biodynamic Association, Isidor was rewarded for his ‘action’, with a gratis membership until the age of 25.

– Alfred Schädeli

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Agriculture reinforces therapy

I am in my third year of a biodynamic training. I also work with people with special needs.

Melchior Pfeil, Student

I have discovered that farming can be an important part of therapy, because it helps people with special needs to have their feet on the ground. Later on, I would like to work in biodynamic agriculture as an ergotherapist.


Full of vitality at the full moon

Sowing apple seeds just before the full moon increases the vitality of the trees.

Today, a wide range of apple varieties depend on direct protection of their trees. These varieties are so often affected by illnesses such as scab and mildew that their apples are of bad quality. The trees also suffer. Niklaus Bolliger of ‘Poma Culta’, experiments with biodynamic methods to strengthen and increase the sustainability and health of apple trees. He has shown that seeds sown at the time of full moon have greater vitality, and that regular treatment by curative eurythmy for a couple of weeks after sowing has very positive effects. These trials are only at their beginning, but the first results encourage one to continue.


Niklaus Bolliger: sustainably strengthening plants with gentle methods.