What makes a farm Biodynamic®?
In order for a farm to refer to itself as Biodynamic, it must have achieved certification through Demeter by adhering to the Demeter Farm Standard for a minimum of three years if conventionally farmed, or a minimum of one year if organically farmed.¬† The entire farm must be certified, not just a portion of land within the farm.¬† Farms are inspected annually to ensure that the Standard is being met.
What is the Farm Standard?
The Demeter Biodynamic® Farm Standard reflects the Biodynamic principle of the farm as a living organism: self-contained, self-sustaining, following the cycles of nature.¬† It provides the legal definition of BIODYNAMIC in the US marketplace.¬† Sections of the Farm Standard include necessary elements of the farm organism, soil fertility management, crop protection, greenhouse management, animal welfare, and the use of the preparations.¬† Biological diversity within the farm landscape is emphasized, and requires that a minimum of ten percent of the total farm acreage be set-aside as a biodiversity preserve.¬† The Farm Standard is historically significant because it dates back to the beginning of the modern sustainable farming movement, and captures key agronomic principles not comprehensively addressed within any other agriculture certification system.
How does a farmer manage a farm like a living organism?
In practice, Biodynamic farming meets the organic standard including the prohibition of synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, but then it goes much further.¬†Emphasis is on the generation of farm inputs out of the living dynamics of the farm itself, rather than being imported from the outside.¬† Dependence on imported materials for fertility and pest control is reduced.¬† Water conservation is considered.¬† Farms are required to maintain at least 10% of total acreage as a biodiversity set-aside.¬† Riparian zones, wetlands, grasslands, and forests: all are considered an integral part of the life of the farm.¬† Specially prepared medicinal plants, minerals, and composted animal manures help increase the vitality of the grapes grown and further anchor each individual farm in time and place.
If a farm is certified Biodynamic, does that mean that the products produced are Biodynamic?
Not necessarily.¬† The crop that results from a certified farm is Biodynamic, so for example, in the case of a certified winery or vineyard the grapes that are harvested are Biodynamic grapes.¬† However in order for certified grapes to result in certified wine, the Demeter Wine Processing Standard must also be met.¬† As with all Biodynamic products, the intent of the Demeter Processing Standards (there are fourteen in all) is to ensure an unbroken chain of accountability from the farm to the finished product, and deliver a product that allows for the integrity and purity of the agricultural ingredients to define it.
Is there growing interest in Biodynamic certification?
Yes!¬† Demeter is experiencing a groundswell of interest in certification, with an average yearly growth of more than fifteen percent.
What environmental impacts does Biodynamic agriculture have?
Because Biodynamic agriculture treats the farm like a living organism, self-contained and self-sustaining, it is both metaphorically and literally the paragon of sustainability.¬† Healthy farms mean healthy people and a healthy planet.¬† Consumers should be very pleased with the commitment these Biodynamic farmers have made to be better stewards of the piece of the planet on which their farms are located.
May a farm refer to its farming practices or products as ‚ÄúBiodynamic‚ÄĚ without being certified?
In the marketplace, a farm may not legally refer to itself, its farming practices, or its products as ‚ÄúBiodynamic‚ÄĚ without being certified.¬† ‚ÄúBiodynamic‚ÄĚ refers to an entire farming system.¬† We have noted that some farms will suggest they use ‚Äúsome Biodynamic practices‚ÄĚ but, to use an old adage, that is a bit like being ‚Äúa little pregnant‚ÄĚ! In respect to those who go through the rigors of certification, guarantee a consistent definition in the marketplace, and protect consumers, Demeter continues to require the appropriate use of the certification marks by everyone.