Biodynamic agriculture is an ecological farming approach that views each farm as a living organism. The health and well-being of the farm animals, the farmer, the farm and the Earth are all viewed as integral parts that make up the whole.
What makes biodynamic farming different?
Biodynamic farmers approach their farms as self-sustaining ecosystems. Like organic farmers, biodynamic farmers avoid synthetic chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and GMOs. In addition, Biodynamic farmers focus on specific, farm-made solutions to pest control, soil health and fertility. They strive to reduce the volume of imported materials and to nurture the potential of the farm’s own resources, which include water and biodiversity.
Why does it matter?
These days, we all want to know more about where our food comes from and how it is grown. When you choose Biodynamic products, you’re supporting farmers who raise food with the big picture in mind: people, plants, animals and the environment.
One of the simplest ways to understand the advantages of Biodynamic agriculture is to think specifically about the connection between people, plants and pollinators. After all, more than one out of every three bites of food we humans eat relies on bees and other pollinators. But synthetic pesticides can impact pollinator health, and farming monoculture — in which large tracts of land are devoted to a single crop — makes for hungry pollinators whenever the main commercial crop is out of flower.
In contrast, Biodynamic farmers avoid synthetic pesticides that may be harmful to pollinators, and they set aside at least 10% of their land for biodiversity, which means more variety of forage for bees and other pollinators. Healthy pollinators help grow crops, which translates into more of the delicious fruits and vegetables that you love.
Who can be certified Biodynamic?
For a U.S. farm or product to legally refer to itself as Biodynamic, it must be certified by Demeter USA, a nonprofit formed in 1985 to promote Biodynamic agriculture. Demeter USA is a member of Demeter International, the oldest ecological certification organization, which operates in 45 countries around the world.
In order to qualify for Demeter Biodynamic status, a farm must first meet the National Organic Program standards as a base. However, certified Biodynamic farms are not automatically certified organic. Demeter also requires a careful examination and eventual reduction of the volume of imported materials necessary to sustain the life of the farm. Furthermore, Demeter requires that farms set aside a minimum of 10% of their total acreage for biodiversity.
The number of Biodynamic products available in the U.S. is small but growing. Look for the certification label on fresh produce, pasta, pasta sauce, rice, wine and more.
Meet biodynamic farmers
“Our intent with our farm is to try to provide the purest food for our children,” says David Byrnes of Yellow Barn Biodynamic Farm. Watch the video to meet David and his family and explore their farm in Alfred Station, New York.