Founded in 1924, Biodynamics is the oldest 'green' farming and gardening movement, and forerunner of organics. Often described as organic plus, it is founded on a holistic and regenerative approach to farming building on the pioneering research work of Rudolf Steiner, and his series of Agricultural Lectures given in 1924. Biodynamic farming is widely known as the gold standard in organic.
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was the person who brought us biodynamic agriculture. He was an Austrian philosopher, scientist and social reformer
Steiner. His agricultural lectures, given in 1924 to a group of over a 100 farmers and landowners, gave novel insights and suggestions on how to regenerate and improve agriculture, which led to the foundation of the Biodynamic movement, and lie at the heart of its ethos and farming practices.
Whereas other forms of sustainable agriculture are primarily concerned with producing food sustainably, biodynamic farming is regenerative and aspires to be transformative and seeks to maximize health and vitality of the soil, ecosystem and crops. Some practices include:
Replacing chemical herbicides with farm produced herbal sprays to enhance and enliven their crops.
Replacing chemical pesticides with farming practices that encourage healthy predator / prey balance through plantings.
Replace the use of chemical fertilizers with natural farm produced compost to fertilize their soils.
Planting cover crops in the off season, which draws carbon back out of the atmosphere and improve soil vitality and nutrient content are common practice.
Regular crop rotation builds soil vitality and helps with water retention.
Unlike organic which is mainly crop focused, biodynamic certification certifies the entire farm and all aspects of the farm.
Biodynamic farming, products and manufacturing is certified using the Demeter trademark logo, and is the legal guarantee to consumers that food has been grown and produced to international biodynamic production and processing standards. Their certification goes above and beyond the national organic program standards here in the US.
The Demeter brand uniquely enjoys worldwide recognition. It is fast becoming the organic brand of choice in Europe. The brand stands for organic integrity and vitality; its authenticity is fiercely upheld by each member of Demeter International, and overseen by its board.
Scientific research into the health benefits of organic food - which applies to biodynamic food as well - is well documented. In addition, repeated experiments for many years by people who grow and eat biodynamic food, and by biodynamic research establishments, confirms biodynamics regularly produces high quality nutrient-rich foods, that keep fresh longer, store better, and have greater vitality. Anecdotal evidence suggests that eating biodynamic food reduces allergic reactions and contributes to improved general health.
The biodynamic movement is adamantly opposed to genetic modification (GM) in agriculture, gardening, packaging (compostable packaging made with GMO crops) and in food processing. Demeter standards forbids the use of any GM organisms and ingredients, including animal feeds; and also forbid cyto and protoplasm fusion techniques for seed production.
Biodynamic products are generally priced higher than other products in their category for a few reasons. The first and possibly the most important is that the biodynamic farms that we work with are small family run businesses. We always like to pay a fair wage to our farmers for their crops. Unlike large industrial farming operations, most of the farms that we work with are small family run businesses that have a passion for growing biodynamic crops.
As biodynamic farms forbid the use of all chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, biodynamic farmers need more labour to manually care for their crops and manufacture their own herbal sprays and natural compost to replace the damaging effects that these chemicals have on our health and environment.
Biodynamic farmers do a lot of crop rotations to keep their soil healthy and prevent weed growth, this promotes healthy soil and helps with pest control but comes at an additional cost to the farmer.
After harvesting a crop, a biodynamic farmer may use that area to grow "cover crops," to benefit the soil and draw carbon back out of the atmosphere. Other industrial farming uses every acre to grow the most profitable crops and rarely plant “cover crops” to replenish the soil.
Synthetic pesticides repel insects and antibiotics maintain the health of the livestock. Since Biodynamic farmers don’t use these but instead replace with natural pest control methods their losses are higher, which costs the farmer more and increases the cost to the consumer. Biodynamic farmers have to account for this in their pricing.
Biodynamic farms are typically smaller than conventional ones, but they also, on average, take more time to produce crops because they refrain from using the chemicals and growth hormones used by conventional farmers to boost growth and productivity.
Also, To reassure the customer of the quality that they they are purchasing, certification costs are high on a biodynamic farm, which the biodynamic farmer has to account for.