With "DIRT", model and environmental activist Arizona Muse is committed to support biodynamic agriculture - In our exclusive interview, she reveals what it's all about
© Shope Delano
Author: Julia Schindler
From internationally renowned model to environmental activist and sustainability consultant. While the devastating environmental impact of the fashion industry is well known and should encourage particularly active participants, brands and those responsible often preach empty phrases about environmental protection. Arizona Muse, on the other hand, makes a clear statement. On the basis of research, she became a passionate advocate of sustainability and ecological regeneration. With the establishment of DIRT, Foundation for the Regeneration of Earth, in June 2021, Muse manifests her sustainable commitment.
The charity is dedicated to the practice of regenerative, biodynamic, agriculture to promote soil health, biodiversity, ecological balance and local communities. To achieve this goal, Muse relies on fundraising, cooperation and educational initiatives. In our interview, Arizona Muse explains what exactly DIRT is pursuing and what role biodynamics can play in the future.
Where did your interest in sustainability come from and has it been further strengthened by your work in the fashion industry?
My journey started at 27 when I was 6 years deep into my modeling career. I realised that I had no idea where clothes came from nor who made them. I took a deep dive into educating myself about the fashion supply chain, found that i'm ridiculously curious about raw materials and quickly arrived at the understanding that everything we use or need is grown in soil: all the fashion fabrics, ingredients for cosmetics and medicine, leather for car seats, and metal is mined from the earth.
I have since become an educator and changed my social media platforms into educational spaces where I share my enthusiasm for a more sustainable life. I have recently launched my charity DIRT, Foundation for the Regeneration of Earth.
What opportunities are there for further training in sustainability and biodynamics?
The best education I’ve given myself and my children has been to volunteer on Biodynamic Farms. I find that nowadays we are so disconnected from nature that we end up disconnecting from each other and even ourselves! I’ve realised that we won’t be able to understand what the problem is, let alone find any possible solutions, if we can’t connect to the Earth and continue treating it like an object.
After spending time with Biodynamic Farmers I’ve realised how special they are, how much slower they move, how much more intelligent they are, how much more appreciative and connected they are to their surroundings. It’s an incredible experience, I highly recommend and in fact encourage everyone to spend a day on your local biodynamic farm.
What was your motivation to found DIRT?
I've spent a long time sifting through solutions to the Climate Crisis we all currently face and to me, Biodynamic Agriculture seems to be one of the simplest and most enjoyable, waste-free solutions there is. Soil is everywhere and anyone can become a Biodynamic farmer or gardener and help to regenerate the life within soil. Everything we need comes from it. Which is why I chose to create DIRT, a charity to support regenerative farming practices. I decided to focus on the Biodynamic movement because it is protected by a certifying body called Demeter who maintains its high standards of regeneration.
What exactly is biodynamic farming and what are the benefits?
Imagine a farm as a closed, circular organism. Everything you need is there, which is why biodynamic farmers don't need to buy anything: they grow their own food, they fertilise their soil with the compost they make with their cow manure. It will never be a monoculture and the fact that it’s biodiverse makes it less susceptible to diseases and pests. All this makes the soil rich and healthy, brings the farmers numerous harvests and all in all, higher yields, and brings communities together.
A Biodynamic farm will never pollute rivers, on the contrary, it will heal the soil beyond its perimeters as the biome of the healthy soil beneath the biodynamic farm expands naturally year on year. A Biodynamic farmer does not need expensive machinery, which means there are no debts weighing on their mental health.
The most distinctive feature of biodynamic farming that sets it aside from other agricultural practices is the acknowledgment plants are not only physical matter, that within each one is something intangible, but undeniably there that keeps it alive. Biodynamics Farms the life within the plants, animals, humans, and the Earth. Biodynamics is a practice that can enrich the life of the farmer immensely. Personally, it is my ambition to become a Biodynamic Farmer.
DIRT operates on a fundraising model. How exactly does it work?
Dirt’s purpose is to increase the amount of land that is farmed biodynamically. DIRT sources projects on Biodynamic Farms around the world and seeks donors to support each project. The reason behind this strategy is to build more than a monetary relationship between the farmers and the donors. There is a lot of learning and growing that can happen when you listen to a Biodynamic Farmer!
DIRT will create beautiful footage of the project as a valuable asset for the donor to use and share. Please take a visit to DIRT's YouTube channel channel to see what we’ve already created.
How many projects do you currently support? Is there a representative example that is close to your heart?
At the date of our launch we had 10 projects available, each from a different country. All of them are very meaningful and close to my heart. For example, regenerating a gold mine and its community in Uganda; or providing a home and mental health support to women who find themselves without a place to live on a Biodynamic Farm in Romania.
We have just completed a series of 60 events to educate conventional farmers in Egypt and more than 60 cotton farmers have signed up to transition into biodynamics! We will soon have more new Egyptian Biodynamic cotton farmers that will join the supply chain.
Why have industries, especially the fashion industry, so far attached so little importance to biodynamic agriculture?
Biodynamics, presently is producing food products and grapes for winemaking. Only very small quantities of fibre and leather are grown on biodynamic farms, so essentially, the raw materials of the fashion industry are not yet available on the market. The fashion industry could pour support into the biodynamic farming movement, and thereby regenerate soil, if the supply of biodynamic raw materials such as cotton, wool, cellulose from wood pulp and leather were available on the marketplace.
Dirt is working with the Biodynamic Farming movement to encourage the production of these raw materials and simultaneously working with the fashion industry to create demand for the raw materials. One of DIRT’s main purposes is to build a strong and meaningful relationship between the fashion industry and Biodynamic Farmers.
How do you spread your mission - Both privately and professionally?
I love video content as a way of sharing information. On my personal instagram @Arizona_Muse and on @Dirt.charity you can find some of the videos I’ve created as an activist. And on DIRT’s Youtube channel you will find a mini series explaining raw materials and where they come from that aims to help each of us make better informed decisions about what we buy. The mini series is called "Explained By DIRT".
What are the goals you want to achieve over the next five years?
DIRT wants to see a world where all 37% of terrestrial land that is managed by humans, is cared for using biodynamic methods. I hope we are well on our way toward that goal in 5 years.
Thank you so much for the interview, Arizona!