The International Agriculture Conference took place online last week at the Goetheanum in Dornach with 'Quality through biodynamics' as its main theme. More than 1,000 people from all continents took part in a diverse programme of lectures, interactive workshops, open space activities and artistic performances.
In the last century, agricultural production was mainly focused on quantity; today the focus is turning to quality. But what kind of quality are we talking about? Of a simple external quality that guarantees a certain appearance and nutritional content, or of a comprehensive quality that includes vitality, authenticity and even the ethics of food production? For we nourish ourselves not only with substances, but also with forces and meaning.
From the beginning, the production of comprehensive food quality has been an essential concern of biodynamic agriculture. The many facets of this living quality were presented by the various speakers during the conference. A detailed report as well as the conference documentation will be published soon.
We move into the next working year strengthened from our encounters in the conference; understanding the quality of biodynamics in a deeper and more multi-faceted way.
Jasmin Peschke and Jean-Michel Florin for the Section for Agriculture - Goetheanum
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Agriculture! What a wonderful world By Stephanie Stein and Nelson Jacomel Junior
Agriculture is without a doubt a human space of phenomenal achievement
In the labour of farmers, we perceive the moment in which all life acts, from the soil and minerals, through the plants that fill spaces with the most fragrant flowers and fruits, and thus carry the tastiest foods to please and serve animals.
From the field to the table, processes take place in which the farmer has the opportunity to enhance the events of nature, so that life flows more harmoniously in the plants that become food for those who consume them.
The stage of “handling” these foods, its commercialization, is almost like an “art of telling the story of the emergence of life”. This is the interpretation that we can bring to the important and definitive action of “putting life on people's tables”.
It is also the ideal time to find partners with aligned ideals and to recognize the other, with their own stories.
Farmers are naturally good storytellers
The stories that Carlos, Stephanie, Lucas and many other partners tell us: it's a partnership, it's the story of how a group of people work in harmony in biodynamics.
For example, Jaques Suchodoski's joy while planting his vines in Santa Catarina highlands is matched by the joyful story he posts on social media.
These stories are reminding us of what happens during the production of these foods, as we try to prepare for the future. And as biodynamic farmers we are able to show that there is a different future that is approaching.
Working and delivering with quality is a daily task in biodynamic agriculture, as it is where we are going to present the vision of the future to consumers.
In a way, when people go to a local street fair and consciously choose their food, they are truly asking themselves: what is the quality of what will be on our table? Who produced them? It is a forward-looking question, and the answer must also be answered for generations to come.
You will grow
This was the motivation that inspired us at ABDSul to work with the “You Will Grow” marketing concept in Brazil, entitled in Portuguese “Você crescerá”. We see that there is a need to create an open space for exchange and conversation with people looking for quality food with those who produce them. For that, we must get to know who these people are and what they are looking for on their tables. We visited our biodynamic farmers to bring their images closer to these consumers.
The entire process took place with the creation and design of posters based on those of the international “You Will Grow” campaign, in conjunction with the global message. Additionally, we conducted a survey with questions that were answered by Brazilian citizens about organic and biodynamic food.
The posters will be displayed in stores and fairs of our supporters in different cities, mainly in those where entrepreneurs participate in ABDSul's Participatory Certification System, as they, together with farmers, illustrate this brief story.
On the way to the practice of biodynamic agriculture, the opportunities for connection between people allow each of us to expand a network of contacts with a community vision: the loving human effort in production, and the possibility of multiplying its effect on society at large. In this future time, we will be fulfilling the common purpose of humanity's evolution.
Check out our new leaflet on new GMOs: https://demeter.net/leaflet-new-gmos/. The leaflet is available on our website in English and Spanish, it will soon be published also in German, French and Italian.
While the use of GMOs is strictly prohibited in biodynamic farming and the Demeter standards, including the new generation of GMOs, the latest political developments around the world aim to loosen regulations on new GMOs. This would have direct consequences for the biodynamic movement since it would jeopardize the production of GM-free products.
Strict regulation of new GMOs is the only way to preserve biodynamic farming and to reduce the risks to our health and the environment. Instead of relying on false promises from the industry that have high risk potential for human health and ecosystems, a real paradigm shift is needed to answer the challenges agriculture is facing today.
To ensure the production of GM-free food and products, the Federation raises the following key political demands:
Governments must either strictly regulate or ban all GMOs, including new GMOs. No weakening of existing regulations on GMOs.
Mandatory labelling of all products containing any GM ingredient to know what is in our fields and on our plates.
Support for sustainable and alternative farming systems to GMOs such as biodynamic and organic farming.
Fund research to develop detection methods for new GMOs. No new GMO should come on the market undetected.
No patents should be granted on any form of life or its components that restricts the free access to genetic resources for everyone.
Independent research to investigate the effects of new GMOs on our health and the environment.
The leaflet explains what new GMOs are, their risks and threats, the false promises behind the promotion of new GMOs, as well as the way forward towards a healthy, safe, and sustainable agriculture based on biodynamic and organic farming.
Briefing Paper on AMR Holistic Animal Husbandry Through Health and Welfare
Our most recent briefing paper on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is now published! Also called ‘the silent pandemic’, AMR is responsible for about 700,000 deaths per year, making it a severe threat to public health. The livestock sector is directly connected to this increasingly worrying problem: the more antimicrobials are used on livestock, the higher the chances of AMR developing in animals, which subsequently spreads to resistance in humans, compromising the efficacy of antibiotics to treat human infections.
Intensive industrial animal rearing with low animal welfare standards and stressful living conditions necessitates the preventative use of antibiotics, including for growth promotion and feed efficiency. In large contrast to this is biodynamic and organic farming. With high animal welfare standards from breeding, to rearing, to feeding, biodynamic farmers reduce the need for antibiotic treatments in the first place. Furthermore, the application of antibiotics in veterinary medicine is also strictly and highly regulated, preventing the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.
The briefing paper explains the connections between AMR, industrial livestock systems, and animal welfare in depth and lays out the most crucial political demands from the Federation on this topic.
Training session on AMR February 16, 2 to 3.30 pm CET
We are happy to provide more information on the upcoming training session on AMR & its connection to livestock systems which will take place online on February 16 from 2 to 3.30 pm CET.
We have been working on AMR and animal welfare for the past few months and the training session will serve as an opportunity to share our knowledge with you! The workshop goes hand in hand with the release of the new briefing paper on AMR.
In the training session, we will explain what AMR is, how large-scale, industrial agriculture plays a crucial part in exacerbating the problem, but also how biodynamic farming can provide solutions to avert AMR. We have the honour to be joined by Dr. Petra Weiermayer, a leading veterinary expert on homeopathy and evidence-based medicine. She will explain how homeopathic treatments in livestock can reduce the contribution of the agricultural sector to AMR as well as the importance of the ‘One Health Approach’, which unifies human, animal, and environmental health.
Demeter Raw Materials Updated list on our website and additional information
Raw Material Coordination is a free service offered by the Federation to Demeter licensees and applicants. This is a specialist service, providing a complete overview of the raw materials, semi-finished products and finished products that are available (or soon to be available) worldwide.
Raw Materials that could be interesting for the international Demeter market are listed on our website: Market Development - Demeter International. Below is a list of in-demand Demeter raw materials or semi-finished products that are in short supply. The list is updated regularly:
• Frozen berries, all kinds
• Orange juice
• Grapefruit juice (Mediterranean region)
• Dried herbs
• Oranges, lemons, other fruit from South America
• Fruit puree
• Vegetable and herb powders
• Cashew nuts
For these products, we may need additional Demeter producers. Should you have any contacts for these raw materials, please do contact us.
For information, Aurélie Truffat, our current Raw Material Coordinator, will be on maternity leave from mid-February onwards. Felix Hübner will be taking over her role.
The Agricultural Conference took place online from 2 to 5 February 2022. This year's conference stood under the theme: "Quality through biodynamics: perceive, experience, develop".
The subject of Quality has been an important matter for the biodynamic movement since its inception. It was addressed and worked on in depth during the conference in lectures, workshops, forums and working groups, enabling each participant to acquire new knowledge, insights and ideas for their work.
An overview of the highlights of the conference will be shared in one of the upcoming newsletter editions. Until then, you can have a look at the pictures of the conference:https://www.agriculture-conference.org/2022.
News from Member Organisations
Meeting of the anthroposophical initiatives in Costa Rica
During the first Advent week, the anthroposophical initiatives in Costa Rica met for the first time all together. It was organised as a ‘traveling meeting’ in 3 regions with every time new people and initiatives as well as people that travelled to the next one too, or appeared again in the third meeting. Through this form, approximately 70 people participated in one or more of the three events. The initiative for this week was carried by Osiris Lazo, Olga Rojas and Danilo Solano with the help of many others. The question was how to form a healthy social organism with all these initiatives?
We started on November 29 in the North Pacific coast, at the Waldorf school Casa de Las Estrellas, a beautiful school at the beach near Nosara. There were 46 people, among which were several biodynamic farmers and some teachers, and parents from the school. Osiris teaches agriculture at this school and led the meeting. We sang, moved, painted, made the fladen preparation together and talked about the essence of the farm organism. In little groups we worked on the question: what are the 5 most important elements of a healthy community? Those elements were carried to the next meetings.
On December 2, near La Fortuna, the second meeting took place at a bee sanctuary for native stingless bees, to which Danilo has a deep connection. It was an amazing place with more than 20 different types of native bees. We worked with 13 participants on the question: "what can we learn from the bees as social organism and their selfless serving nature?" It was a deep and emotional day.
The last meeting was held over two days, near the capital San José. On December 3rd we worked with the principle of the 12 zodiac houses in all its appearances, one of which is as an organising principle in organisations. The group work question was repeated and together with those elements of the first meeting, they were carried into the picture of the 12.
The closing event on December 4 was held again at a Waldorf school where Olga teaches, in Coronado, San José. Together, we stirred the fladen preparation for the garden around the school; we painted and sang the whole week, always led by one of the teachers in a beautiful way. During the last day we worked on the idea of community of destiny, what does that mean for each of the individuals in the room and all the initiatives? The meeting ended with a collectively created list of tasks for the coming year, and a new group of people volunteered to guard and guide that these tasks will be materialised.
One important conclusion was the need for a better overview of all farmers who work biodynamically and their produce, all Waldorf school initiatives, and potential exchange and collaboration on food availability, awareness raising amongst parents, education on farms and school visits.
The entire week was guided by well-chosen verses of Rudolf Steiner. For every element in the program an accompanying verse. Specifically the meditations and verses used to guide the inner mood of the attendees were the ones related to Advent and Community. The closure was accompanied by a verse of Goethe and symbolised the mood in the room; let’s do it!
The verse The Initiative in Spanish and translated to English:
"Until one is committed, there is hesitance, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man, could have dreamt would have come his way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."
Petra Derkzen, Thomas Schmid and Danilo Solano
Report of the Demeter Training in Kéthely, Hungary
The Demeter training was announced for the weekend of 22-24 October 2021, which we started planning a year ago, inspired by our last successful training in 2018 and the fact that several Demeter conversion farms have contacted our Association in the past year.
It was also inspired by the fact that Jean-Michel Florin's visit, planned for a year earlier, and his lectures to the biodynamic community, had to be postponed twice due to the current world situation.
Also, it was a great help to us that we were able to find a solution quickly for the venue; a newly converted Kristinus Demeter winery offered to host our event.
Along with all this, we only dared to start the actual organisation relatively late, at the end of July, when the distancing regulations were relaxed. At that time, the organising team thought and hoped that by the end of October everything would be in place from the organizational side and still it would be possible to hold the conference in person.
Looking back a few weeks later, we can state now, that everything worked out very well for our second Demeter training that it had to be a success. The following lines briefly outline the highlights of the two-day event.
The participants arrived to the venue at noon on Friday and had lunch together before the programme began, at the restaurant of the Kristinus winery.
After the opening of the training course by Florian Zaruba, who is the manager of the Kristinus winery, Mihály Mezei from the Biodynamic Association welcomed the participants and shortly summarized the events of the weekend. The programme included lectures, individual presentations, group work and practical activities.
Among the themes one of the most important focus points was the presence and importance of animal husbandry on the biodynamic farm. Two great presentations on this topic opened the programme. Mihály Mezei started with his lecture entitled: Biodynamic / Demeter work with the integration of animal husbandry.
This was followed by a presentation by Jean-Michel Florin entitled: The Essence of the Animal in Biodynamic Farming - in the light of art.
These two lectures were followed by presentations of three Demeter certified farms, two wineries. The first was thePendits winery. The second one was theSzóló winery. The third farm presentation was the arable – apple mixed farm with animal husbrandy ofGyula Némethin Kölcse, located in eastern Hungary.
After these presentations we all had a wonderful dinner with the opportunity to taste a good selection of wines from the Kristinus winery and have free conversations with each other.
The first topic on Saturday was: Biodynamic food production and consumption in Hungary: reaching out to consumers in the domestic market.
In the introduction to the topic, we briefly examined the biography of the Hungarian Biodynamic Association. We had a short look at where we are coming from, which stages we have gone through and what is the next step we have to take as a community in the sheath of the Biodynamic Association. After this there was a reflection on the relationship of the farm-human-goods triad, taking into account the idea of social tripartism The discussion after the thought-provoking summaries was coordinated by Gabriella Treiber and Julianna Horváth.
We continued the morning with a tour of the Kristinus Wine Estate, where we visited the vineyards, the landscape and the farm's animals, and then the cellars. After all this, the whole company got active and we inoculated the farm's compost with the biodynamic compost preparations.
Afterwards, and after delicious coffee and cakes during the break, Jean-Michel gave us his thoughts on the next topic: Challenges in Demeter/biodynamic viticulture and agriculture (International and French Perspectives). In the evening, after a delicious dinner, there was again time for sharing experiences and informal discussions with colleagues.
On Sunday morning, Mónika Csécs of the Biodynamic Foundation of Legénd spoke about the successes and difficulties of reaching out to young people. Then Mihály Mezei continued the programme with a presentation on Biodynamic/Demeter conversions, projects, plans, and goals for the future.
The last session was a group work activity, where the participants could reflect and share their current situation, their capabilities, opportunities, needs and problems in relation to their own biodynamic farming activities. In all cases, it became clear, from the feedback and the harvesting process, that it was very important and a fruitful process to think together and share with each other.
We, the organizers, hope that this event with the lectures, with the practical activities, and with the group work activity, brought the participants to a better understanding of biodynamic farming and of their relationship to it.
We were glad to hear when the participants expressed that they would like to attend similar events more often.
This is what the second Hungarian Demeter Training was all about. Many thanks to all who helped to make this event come alive.
Gabriella Treiber for the Biodynamic Association of Hungary
Growth in Biodynamics in the United Kingdom
In the UK biodynamics has lived in gardens and farms for nearly a century, but in different ways to other countries. We find that while many farms and market gardens are producing good quantities of quality food, very often it is sold direct to local communities and through membership or box schemes, and much of the rest through farmers' markets. This means it is not very visible to the general consumer and the Demeter mark is not well known. And while there is an unmet demand for more biodynamic food, much of it is for the restaurant sector and London farmers' markets, so would still not shout out Demeter. Finding ways of making the Demeter label and quality better known is an ongoing challenge for all of us and particularly in our communications and marketing work.
Brexit, with its ongoing complications for export and import, especially for the organic/biodynamic sector, is not helping. In spite of this, biodynamics is becoming better known bit by bit and with the help of the wine and spirits sector becoming better recognised. The UK online 'Biodynamic Store' has closed due to lack of demand and Brexit difficulties, which is a real shame. However, the number of Demeter vineyards is growing here in Britain, with 10 now fully Demeter certified.
Due to Brexit the BDA UK can now only provide Demeter top-up certification in Ireland, but this has not stopped some of the bigger practitioners such as Waterford Distillery and its network of Demeter certified farms and processors from developing and producing a biodynamic, Demeter whisky. Bruichladdich in Scotland is now also able to sell its biodynamic whisky with the Demeter mark thanks to changes agreed to the Demeter standards last year.
This past year the number of BDA certified farms has started growing again, which is great news. We now have over 320 licensees, including farms, gardens processors and traders, around half of whom we certify only to the organic level. There are more Demeter farms and markets gardens, and fewer Demeter processors and traders.
In Britain we are short of biodynamic farmers and growers to fill vacancies on farms and estates, in spite of various trainings offered by the UK Biodynamic Agriculture College.
The work of the Association is developing with fairly stable numbers of members and great activity with our online Garden Club. Developing our Farm Services support is continuing, with consultations and support for conversion being an important part of this. In early January we presented at the Oxford Real Farming Conference (online) sharing aspects of biodynamics and its effect on soil, in particular under the title “Science, Biodynamics, Regenerative Agriculture’. This was well received.
The UK Agriculture Section activity is growing, with monthly gatherings (on zoom) on different themes and subjects, and a planned weekend workshop with Are Thoresen in 4-6 March in Stroud to look at deepening our work with the BD preparations, the beings that work with us and plant and food quality.
We are still seeking a Certification Manager for our certification team.
Gabriel Kaye, Executive Director of the Biodynamic Association UK
News from the World
A contribution from indigenous representatives about agroecology Solutions to the climate crisis
Regenerative agriculture (Regen Ag) and permaculture claim to be the solutions to our ecological crises. While they both borrow practices from Indigenous cultures, critically, they leave out our worldviews and continue the pattern of erasing our history and contributions to the modern world.
While the practices 'sustainable farming' promote are important, they do not encompass the deep cultural and relational changes needed to realize our collective healing.
Where is ‘Nature’?
Regen Ag and permaculture often talk about what's happening 'in nature': "In nature, soil is always covered.” “In nature, there are no monocultures." Nature is viewed as separate, outside, ideal, perfect. Human beings must practice “biomimicry” (the mimicking of life) because we exist outside of the life of Nature.
Indigenous Peoples speak of our role AS Nature. (Actually, Indigenous languages often don't have a word for Nature, only a name for Earth and our Universe.) As cells and organs of Earth, we strive to fulfill our roles as her caregivers and caretakers. We often describe ourselves as "weavers", strengthening the bonds between all beings.
Death Doesn’t Mean Dead
Regen Ag and Permaculture often maintain the "dead" worldview of Western culture and science: Rocks, mountains, soil, water, wind, and light all start as "dead". ("Let's bring life back to the soil!" — implying soil, without microbes, is dead.) This worldview believes that life only happens when these elements are brought together in some specific and special way.
Indigenous cultures view the Earth as a communion of beings and not objects: All matter and energy is alive and conscious. Mountains, stones, water, and air are relatives and ancestors. Earth is a living being whose body we are all a part of. Life does not only occur when these elements are brought together; Life always is. No “thing” is ever dead; Life forms and transforms.
From Judgemental to Relational
Regen Ag and Permaculture maintain overly simplistic binaries through subscribing to good and bad. Tilling is bad; not tilling is good. Mulch is good; not mulching is bad. We must do only the ‘good’ things to reach the idealized, 99.9% biomimicked farm/garden, though we will never be as pure or good "as Nature", because we are separate from her.
Indigenous cultures often share the view that there is no good, bad, or ideal—it is not our role to judge. Our role is to tend, care, and weave to maintain relationships of balance. We give ourselves to the land: Our breath and hands uplift her gardens, binding our life force together. No one is tainted by our touch, and we have the ability to heal as much as any other lifeform.
Our Words Shape Us
Regen Ag and Permaculture use English as their preferred language no matter the geography or culture: You must first learn English to learn from the godFATHERS of this movement. The English language judges and objectifies, including words most Indigenous languages do not: 'natural, criminal, waste, dead, wild, pure…' English also utilizes language like "things" and "its" when referring to “non-living, subhuman entities."
Among Indigenous cultures, every language emerges from and is therefore intricately tied to place. Inuit people have dozens of words for snow and her movement; Polynesian languages have dozens of words for water's ripples. To know a place, you must speak her language. There is no one-size-fits-all, and no words for non-living or sub-human beings, because all life has equal value.
People are land. Holistic includes History.
Regen Ag and Permaculture claim to be holistic in approach. When regenerating a landscape, ‘everything’ is considered: soil health, water cycles, local ‘wildlife’, income and profit. ‘Everything’, however, tends to EXCLUDE history: Why were Indigenous homelands steal-able and why were our Peoples and lands rape-able? Why were our cultures erased? Why does our knowledge need to be validated by ‘Science’? Why are we still excluded from your ‘healing’ of our land?
Among Indigenous cultures, people belong to land rather than land belonging to people. Healing of land MUST include healing of people and vice versa. Recognizing and processing the emotional traumas held in our bodies as descendants of assaulted, enslaved, and displaced Peoples is necessary to the healing of land. Returning our rights to care for, harvest from, and relate to the land that birthed us is part of this recognition.
Regen Ag and Permaculture often share the environmentalist message that the world is dying and we must “save” it. Humans are toxic, but if we try, we can create a "new Nature" of harmony, though one that is not as harmonious as the "old Nature" that existed before humanity. Towards this mission, we must put Nature first and sacrifice ourselves for “the cause”.
Indigenous cultures often see Earth as going through cycles of continuous transition. We currently find ourselves in a cycle of great decomposition. Like in any process of composting there is discomfort and a knowing that death always brings us into rebirth. Within this great cycle, we all have a role to play. Recognizing and healing all of our own traumas IS healing Earth's traumas, because we are ONE.
Where to go from here?
Making up only 6.2% of our global population, Indigenous Peoples steward 80% of Earth's biodiversity while managing over 25% of her land. Indigenous worldviews are the bedrocks that our agricultural practices and lifeways arise from. We invite you to ground your daily practices in these ancestral ways, as we jointly work towards collective healing.
Learn whose lands you live on (native-land.ca), their history, and how you can support their causes and cultural revitalization.
Watch @gatherfilm and Aluna documentary.
Amplify the voices and stories of Indigenous Peoples and organizations.
Follow, support, donate to, and learn from the contributors to this post.
Postponement of BIOFACH Happening now in July 2022
BIOFACH and VIVANESS will be held from 26 to 29 July in 2022. This new summer date for the gathering of the international organic food and natural and organic personal care community has been set in order to meet multiple requests from registered exhibitors and enable all participants to plan with confidence.
The decision to postpone the trade fair pairing and the accompanying BIOFACH and VIVANESS Congress this year was taken on a one-off basis in close consultation with the exhibitors.
Please find here the press release of the organizer NürnbergMesse GmbH.
We are most happy to organize a BFDI stand in hall 7 as in previous years!
More news from the Federation on our websiteand social media:
Thanks to all our readers and authors for their interest. The next newsletter will be published in March 2022. If you would like to submit any articles or comments, please send your contributions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.