Most of us don’t know much about the term Biodynamic, though we’ve probably spotted this word on a wine bottle or two in our time. Biodynamic is actually an incredible practice that paves the way for how people everywhere can shift their view about our connection to the earth.
Biodynamic farming is truly about Regenerative Agriculture. The term “biodynamic” was in many ways the inspiration for the organic movement we know today, but it goes even further beyond organic. Biodynamic farming connects the farmer to the overall sustainability of the land and it’s true, holistic connection to the elements as a self-contained entity. Our body’s health reflects that of the environment’s health, and when we begin to eat in support of both our bodies and the planet, we can see a synchronistic relationship between every aspect of this process: from the vibrancy of the soil, to the biodiversity on the land, to the wellbeing of a humanity who encourages its growth.
Biodynamic originated in Europe in 1928 from Rudolph Steiner, who is now known today as the Father of Biodynamic Agriculture. He incorporated composting and nutrient cycling principals from around the world with his personal observations of living systems to develop the foundation for Biodynamic practices. It stands today as the oldest ecological certification in the world, and developed in America around 1985.
Biodynamic was actually the inspiration for the organic movement we know today, but with biodynamic, the regulations not only meet the “organic” standard, they go above and beyond. The wine industry was the first industry to really take on the biodynamic standard and embrace it. Soon, people learned that some of the best wines in the world are biodynamic and this helped to build the marketplace. UNFI and FIN have just released their 2017 trend report and noted a 64% increase in sales outside of whole foods from 2015-2016. it’s the top trending certification to look for now!
Some principles of Biodynamic Farming are:
• Encouraging biological diversity on all levels (soil microbiological life, cropping systems, wildlife, livestock, etc.)
• All Organic certification must be met on the farm.
• Generating fertility on the farm.
• Farm disease and insect weed control utilizing solutions based on maintaining the internal living dynamics of the farm, rather than importing from outside sources.
• Water and waterway conservation, as well as soil and human resource conservation.
• Integration of livestock.
• Gentle post harvesting and handling
In the world of Biodynamic Agriculture, soil is key. Developing nutrient-rich soil is the foundation for everything that grows on the land. From an intensive use of cover crops, crop rotation and compost to ensuring the humus of the soil is retaining proper water, fertility is then able to thrive.
The mission of Demeter, USA, the Biodynamic certifier in the US, is to heal the earth through agriculture. Biodynamic farmers are called practitioners because the practice of nurturing the soil and farm organism goes hand in hand with the production of crops. Organizations such as Demeter strive to educate farmers to create farmer-to-brand relationships and create a direct relationship with complete transparency. They have created their own farming and processing standards which “ensures an unbroken chain of accountability from the farm to the finished product.”
In 2016, Demeter achieved some incredible accomplishments for their work:
• Increased certified biodynamic acreage 16% – from 18,720 to 21,791 acres, which includes more than 2,200 acres protected in biodiversity preserve
• Welcomed 27 new Biodynamic farms and brands to their family of 218 members
• Advised more than 350 farmers and brands about Biodynamic certification
• Hosted 20 farmer workshops providing Biodynamic training for 1,155 farmers
• Worked with more than 50 national brands bringing Biodynamic products to market
• Announced 2017 Regenerative Farming Initiative to encourage the growth of carbon sequestering soil on Biodynamic farms
Biodynamic is both a foundation of our history and a method for the future. Explore these resources to learn more about how you, too can support this important practice and help regenerate our soil, our health and our world.