Ernesto Genoni:Pioneer

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Ernesto Genoni:Pioneer

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Ernesto Genoni: Australia’s pioneer of biodynamic agriculture

John Paull

Abstract
Ernesto Genoni (1885-1975) pioneered biodynamic agriculture in Australia. In 1928 he was the first of (ultimately) twelve Australians to join Rudolf Steiner’s Experimental Circle of Anthroposophical Farmers and Gardeners (ECAFG) which was based at the Goetheanum, Dornach Switzerland. Ernesto trained as an artist for five years at Milan’s prestigious Brera Academy. He visited his brothers in Australia, broad-acre immigrant farmers in Western Australia, in 1912 and 1914 and during these visits he worked on their, and other’s, farms. In 1916 he enlisted in the Australian Infantry Force (AIF) and served as a stretcher bearer on the battlefields of the Somme, France, before being conscripted into the Italian Army and serving jail-time in Italy as a draft resister and conscientious objector. Ernesto joined the Anthroposophical Society in Milan in 1919. He first met Rudolf Steiner in 1920 at the Goetheanum, the Anthroposophy headquarters in Switzerland. Ernesto left the Goetheanum in 1924 when Steiner retired from public life. He migrated to Australia in 1926 with aspirations for establishing a career as an artist in Australia. Instead, having arrived in Australia, he was again drawn into farm management and agricultural work. Ernesto was a champion for biodynamic agriculture, Anthroposophy, and the Austrian New Age philosopher, Rudolf Steiner - causes to which he devoted the rest of his life. In 1928 he initiated the first Anthroposophy meetings in Melbourne. In 1930 Ernesto made a grand tour of biodynamic enterprises in Europe and met the leading biodynamics advocates and practitioners of the day in Germany, Switzerland and England, including Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Erika Riese, Ernst Stegemann, and Carl Mirbt. In 1935 Ernesto and his partner, Ileen Macpherson, who was also an anthroposophist and a member of the ECAFG, began their biodynamic farm called Demeter Biological Farm in Dandenong, Victoria. Ernesto was a founder of the Anthroposophical Society Victoria Michael Group in 1932, and he became its leader in 1962.

Keywords: Biodynamics, biodynamic farming, organic agriculture, organic farming, Anthroposophy, Milan, WWI, Somme, Pozières, Dornach, Goetheanum, Broomehill, Broome Hill, Western Australia, Demeter, Rudolf Steiner, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Ernst Stegemann, Ruby Macpherson.