Looking forward to see you online at our Extraordinary Members’ Assembly!
There are such joys and challenges in being an international organisation: it is almost effortless to meet online with people all over the world, but time zones make life complicated to organise. This ease of communication means we have to work twice as hard to forge the connections that feed our work.
I know that an international standard which works to common principles and also accounts for diversity is a nearly impossible task, to have a standard based on participation and actual practical experience is certainly impossible. Yet as a community, this is one of the challenges we choose. Because the principles of the movement inspire the red lines that we have to draw in the standard, it takes a whole world-wide community to be involved. But this is just one aspect of the Members’ Assembly, even the Extraordinary Members’ Assembly, put in place specifically to work with the rhythm of the standards.
Beyond the standards the Extraordinary Members’ Assembly is an opportunity for everyone (those who work with standards and those who do not) to participate, to work together, to give direction and to see the challenges ahead. It is needed more now than ever.
It is also preparation for the Members' Assembly in Chile. Nearly three years after the founding of the federation we will meet in person for the first time! The focus there will be wholeheartedly on all of our aspects of our work together at a crucial moment to decide on the priorities, development and future of our Federation. Alysoun Bolger, Executive Board of the Biodynamic Federation Demeter International
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Results of ART Funds 2022 The ART 2022 committee funds have been allocated!
For this year’s funding round, we received a total of 15 project proposals. All proposals were excellent, and all very relevant. With so many proposals, it was a challenge for the ART committee to evaluate them and allocate the ART funds in a fair and transparent way.
The total requested funding for these proposals was over double the available funding pool of 52,400 euros. All proposals sought to genuinely strengthen and advance the biodynamic movement worldwide. Not all applications could be accepted, and many others could not be fully funded. The main rationale and key criteria used to allocate the funds were:
Applications from countries with more than 50% Trademark Income or countries not yet fully members of BFDI were ruled ineligible.
Projects were prioritized based on the key criteria established by the ART committee, including among others: strengthening the connection with anthroposophy; useful and shareable results; social goals; actions that involve young people and new generations; priority to low-income countries; collaboration with different partners, etc.
All projects were evaluated to ensure as many projects as possible received funding. In years such as this one, with many proposals for limited funds, not every applicant will receive the full requested amount.
In principle no project will be funded 100% and therefore, all projects must show co-funding.
The 15 applications exemplified not only the impetus of the biodynamic movement to expand into new and diverse regions of the world, such as the tropical regions and southern hemisphere, but also, a strong drive to develop the means to express itself uniquely in each of these diverse contexts. For example, two projects to train new generations of biodynamic advisors were supported in Eastern Europe and South America. Another project aims to teach and empower local communities to make their own biodynamic preparations in different Asian countries.
After an extended evaluation process, the funds were allocated among 9 proposals for projects across Latin America, Europe and Asia. The ART committee hopes that these 9 projects funded represent the seeds that the biodynamic movement needs to continue to grow and make a positive impact worldwide.
The members of the ART committee will accompany and support the development of each of the projects financed throughout the year. This is expected to generate a closeness not only with the members of the various associations of the Federation, but also to help us get to know and understand in greater depth the processes and needs of the biodynamic movement globally.
If you would like to know more about the 9 projects that have received ART Funds 2022 you are welcome to join the online session on 21 June at 3:30 pm CEST during the Extraordinary Members’ Assembly.
100 years anniversary in 2024 Presentation at the Members' Assembly in June
Even though 2024 might seem far away, in terms of preparation it is not. We have developed a communication concept including an anniversary logo, a claim and more.
We invite you to join our presentation during the online Members Assembly on June 23 at 3.30 CET (9.30 CLT, 7.00 IST): Join us here!
We will provide the material this year to our members, so that you can use it to prepare in 2023. Thus in 2024, we can all start together and with our partners to celebrate – with some elements in common and certainly with some elements you develop locally!
We are happy to present a new image brochure “ENJOY YOUR FOOD” about Biodynamics and Demeter. It includes our “you will grow” concept with the farmers in the centre and the values we stand for. Then, it focuses on the farm organism (see image below) and 7 biodynamic principles: Soil fertility, healthy plants, animal welfare, biodiversity, food quality, ecological responsibility and social responsibility.
The brochure is great for communicating biodynamics and Demeter to a broader audience – consumers, new partners etc. – during events and visits, at the store level and more.
>>> If you would like to publish the brochure in your country in your language we would love to support this – either by providing the open graphic files, or by creating the brochure to meet your needs.
We have also developed a number of simple flyers. Since we do not want to invest into too much paper print material, we created these one page leaflets that include a QR Code to take you directly to the relevant website:
After many years working for Demeter Germany and more than four years for the Federation, I am moving on and will be working for a Demeter processor in Germany. It was a great pleasure to meet you all in the biodynamic movement and worldwide. I appreciate this precious time with lots of learnings and many special encounters and wonderful people.
I do hope the communication of biodynamics and Demeter will grow and prosper in the next years, supporting every member in their efforts.
I hope my path will cross again with many of yours. All the best for your good work!
Katja Aßmann (Head of Marketing and IMC Coordinator)
The petition aims to call on EU decision makers to take a strong stand against any deregulation attempts of new GMOs and to uphold mandatory safety checks, transparency and labelling for all GMOs on the market. This is crucial to know what is in our fields and on our plates.
More than 84,000 signatures were already collected and the interest in the petition is rising steadily, but with your support we can go even higher! 50 organisations in 18 different countries across the EU now run and support the petition. Among them several member organisations of the Federation are participating. Demeter Czech & Slovakia and Demeter Denmark just launched the petition on their websites.
To know more about new GMOs – what they are and the risks and threats they represent – please have a look at our latest leaflet. For more detailed information, you can read our position paper.
If you are interested to participate and support the petition or if you would like more information, please contact Clara Behr at:firstname.lastname@example.org.
World Bee Day, 20 May Raise awareness to save the bees
On May 20, the Federation celebrated the world bee day and published an article about the crucial importance of bees for our environment and our food security showing how organic and biodynamic farming can save the bees!
Honeybees are essential both to nature and food security, and therefore ultimately essential for the survival of human beings. However, the bee population is declining year by year and the current mainstream farming practices are partly responsible for this decline. Intensive farming practices, monocropping and especially the use of pesticides are threatening pollinators worldwide.
Based on this evidence, the key to saving the bees is clear: a drastic reduction of pesticide use is needed. This goes hand in hand with more sustainable farming methods such as organic and biodynamic farming that do not rely on the agribusiness industry’s farming model and inputs.
Organic and biodynamic farming both show that the use of chemical pesticides is not a necessity in agriculture. The impact of farming on bees can be a positive one, but it needs a fundamental change in practice. They can actually help protect the bees and ensure their continued existence.
Biodynamic farming even goes a step further by recommending beekeeping on every biodynamic farm, not necessarily to produce honey but to support bees and the wider environment. This builds on the long cultural history of relationship between humans and bees. Due to their activities as pollinators which has such a stimulating effect on the life of plants and of nature, bees are of great importance to the whole web of life.
If we want to hear the bees buzzing again in our fields and in our natural surroundings, the answer is straightforward: policies worldwide must encourage organic and biodynamic farming practices and support farmers towards a just transition.
New development on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Joint Statement and Feedback on a proposed list of antibiotics for human use only
On May 16, the Federation joined forces with 19 other organizations working on animal welfare, human health, and the environment to express severe concerns about the draft list of antimicrobials to be reserved for human health proposed by the European Commission. Next to the Federation, Compassion in World Farming EU, Animal Welfare Foundation, and ProVeg International signed the statement as representatives of the sustainable agriculture field. The joint statement calls on the Commission to make this list more meaningful to tackle AMR.
AMR is an increasingly worrying threat to human health. The continued over- and misuse of last-resort antibiotics, originally meant to prevent and treat life-threatening human infections, in large-scale industrial agriculture needs to be put to a stop by policy-makers. However, as of now, the proposed list has grave shortcomings. First, the proposal allows pharmaceutical companies to approve new antibiotics for veterinarians. Second, the list only reserves antibiotics for human medicine that are not allowed for the veterinary application in the EU anyway. Thus, the list needs to be extended to include more antibiotics, such as ‘Colistin’.
Furthermore, the Federation made its voice heard by submitting feedback to the EU public consultation on the list. The Federation emphasized the main criticisms against the EMA-proposed list, as well as the need to adopt a more holistic strategy in the fight against AMR. Rather than relying on veterinary medicine as the first resort, politics needs to promote animal health and welfare-oriented livestock systems that reduce the need for antibiotics in the first place.
To access the submitted feedback to the consultation, please click here. If you would like to find out more about AMR and how it is connected to livestock systems, feel free to browse through our briefing paper here.
Romana Echensperger, Master of Wine since 2015, discusses her recently published book on biodynamic winemaking Von der Freiheit, den richtigen Wein zu machen – Biodynamisches Winzerhandwerk im Portrait, in conversation with Georg Meissner, German viticulture researcher at the University of Kassel, in Geisenheim.
The conversation is in German, with English subtitles.
Agricultural Conference 2023 – Call for Contributions Evolving agriculture – Looking back and looking forward at 100 years of biodynamics
In preparation for the 2024 centenary conference, the upcoming Agriculture Conference from 1-4 February 2023 will look back at the origins of the biodynamic movement and the cultural development of agriculture.
On the one hand we wish to explore and understand the Agriculture Course and how and why this foundation and source of inspiration has acted in different countries for 100 years.
On the other had we will turn our attention to agriculture, whose history goes back for hundreds and even thousands of years. We will attempt to place the impulse of the Agriculture Course in the overall context of agricultural developments, and in this way reach the key question of what our relationship to the earth in the different periods of history means for our human existence and evolution. This historical perspective on the developing consciousness of agriculture can ultimately show us the point which we have now reached and what evolutionary tasks face the biodynamic movement today and in the near future. Further information on the theme of the year is availablehere.
If these topics and questions are something that interest you, we would be pleased to hear your suggestion for a contribution to the 2023 Agriculture Conference – whether a lecture, workshop, themed session or open space.
We are happy to receive ideas for lectures up to 30th June 2022 and for workshops, themed sessions and open spaces up to 31st July 2022.
Activity report of the Section for Agriculture 2021
The new activity report is online! The Section for Agriculture looks back on an eventful year and reports on the new edition of Rudolf Steiner’s “Landwirtschaftlicher Kurs”, new online courses, and other projects.
Towards quality! Opening lectures of the Agriculture Conference 2022 accessible for free on YouTube
Three very different activists, all united by the will to further establish biodynamic quality, kicked off the Agricultural Conference 2022.
While Arizona Muse, as a model, focuses in particular on the quality issue in the fashion industry, Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food movement, wants high-quality and fairly produced food. Nutritionist Maike Ehrlichmann, who successfully uses "intuitive nutrition" in her counselling, also advocates this.
This teaches us to listen to the body's signals and thus gives us certainty about what and how much we should eat. The contributions of these three speakers are now freely accessible on YouTube.
Since the beginning of the year, Demeter France has organized new meetings in several regions of France to meet its members. The planned itinerary covers all areas where a board member is located to support the organisation and build on the local network.
The eight meetings were held at the farm or wine estate of a volunteer member in several regions (Loire, Bordeaux, Charente, Southwest, Rhone, Bourgogne, Champagne and Alsace). After the discussions, a visit of the farm or wine estate was conducted.
Pierre Mainaud, livestock farmer and president of the association, and Hélène Moquet, head of the certification department, travelled all over France to meet the Demeter members.
The objective of these regional meetings was to have a concrete exchange between Demeter and the members in order to strengthen the relationships within the Demeter biodynamic community and to better understand each other’s expectations. Thus, during these meetings, the Demeter representatives were able to present the new projects and objectives of Demeter France.
The members were also able to submit ideas and proposals to improve the development of the certification as well as to ask general questions or tackle specific themes about their region (climate, organization...).
The results of these meetings are positive; the members have appreciated the initiative set up by Demeter France with the objective of always striving for better, by better involving the members in the process. Moreover, it allowed us to consolidate the relations between members of each region and thus to keep building a real network of biodynamics in France!
Packed agenda for employees of Demeter Italy Update on the latest developments
As usual, this spring Dr Giovanni Legittimo initiated the 2022 inspection schedule for Italian operators, organising more than 1200 announced and unannounced inspections. The assignments of the surprise inspections were only given to the 18 direct Demeter inspectors, while the announced ordinary assignments are to be carried out by eight organic inspection bodies affiliated to Demeter Associazione per la Tutela della Qualità Biodinamica in Italy. Of these eight CBs two are from Austria. This year it is also worth mentioning that many Sicilian farms, which had been missing from the roll call for twenty-eight years, have returned from the ICO inspection: they will now be certified directly by the Demeter offices in Parma.
There are currently 184 farms in biodynamic conversion: on average two out of three obtain the label in two to three years. The other third get tired and give up. These are, however, statistical averages.
Before Easter, 90 winegrowers from the 180 Demeter certified vineyards gathered for a video conference, coordinated by advisor Domenico Di Ciero. They discussed the proposal of alternative social standards for wine and the possibilities for development and growth of the biodynamic wine sector. The initiative grew out of the international discussion that took place in April during the meeting coordinated by Nina Weiss and Christoph Simpfendoerfer. The Italian wine working group was thus expanded.
Lorenzo Guerzoni took part in the three international meetings on the revision of the international Demeter standards on 'Cider, vinegar'. Guerzoni was the first member in the world to produce Demeter-labelled aged balsamic vinegars. Likewise, Enrico Zagnoli participated in the international review group of beekeeping standards: the bee specialists of Europe and America gathered four times, making us dream of flowery fields and pristine forests.
Marlene Cattaneo and Zagnoli then attended a hearing at the Senate of the Republic, where Senators were studying a law to defend endangered insects. They showed interest in our method of agriculture that uses almost no insecticides. Demeter gave them suggestions to improve the law by introducing mandatory flower buffer strips in parks and farms; based on the German NBL (Netz-Bluehende Landschaft) model.
In Trentino Alto-Adige, Apulia, Tuscany, President Emilia Mellano, with his deputy Anastasi and councillor Triarico met with many members and licensees to illustrate Demeter's activities in Italy in the field of accreditation and development. The Demeter Office produced the power point 'Resolution of Nonconformities' for the coordinator of the International Accreditation Council, Albrecht Benzing. New contracts were concluded: with IBDA, with VOG, VOG products. Demeter Italia will participate in July at the large world trade fair Biofach in Nuremberg with its own 351m2 stand.
Promotion activities also include the production of thousands of postcards (1924 is the Leitmotiv), practical eco-friendly canvas bags, elegant branded aprons, large Demeter flags and green and orange farm signs. In the last two months, various articles have appeared in trade journals, on our own websites and in 'Biodynamic Special': on VOG apples, which received the label after a 10-year wait (!), on Demeter milk and cheese, on the goodness of Demeter propolis, on the distribution of spray preparations with fuel price increases, on insect habitat after the Senate hearing, with various signatures from us.
On Saturday 21 May, the collective stable project for the 50 member farmers was inaugurated in Orsogna. 1100 organic sheep will thus be able to graze in turn in the shade of the biodynamic olive trees and vine rows of 40 Demeter members of the world's largest biodynamic winery.
In Abruzzo, the Board opened the first regional Demeter office at the ancient Franciscan Monastery, which supplies its olives to the Orsogna Winery. In a festive atmosphere more than eighty Demeter members sang, played in harmony, discussed and planned.
In 2023, the five-year period set by the 2018 general members' meeting for each farm to comply with the compulsory introduction of livestock loading will expire: from a minimum of 0.2 to 2 livestock units per hectare of UAA. This obligation only applies to farms with UAA > 5 hectares.
We would like to inform you that at the end of May the Board's term of office ends: the ball is back in the members' general meeting to re-elect its representatives.
May saw the conclusion of the International Certification Workshop, which was attended for Italy by Marlene Cattaneo, Francesca Lucifero and Giovanni Legittimo. At the end, we proposed Italy as the venue for the next international workshop, which will take place here from 15 to 17 September 2022.
Looking forward to connecting in June at the Extraordinary Assembly, we greet you warmly.
Spreading the biodynamic impulse by Malaysia Demeter Association Biodynamic workshops, farm visits, and preparation making
One of the Malaysia Demeter Association (MDA) approaches to biodynamic agriculture in Malaysia is through workshops with a strong emphasis on hands-on application.
With the gradual easing of movement restrictions caused by the pandemic, MDA has resumed its principal activities of conducting physical workshops at farms and reaching out to farmers by farm visits. In promoting biodynamics here, we realise that there is an urgent need to reach out to farmers in the fields. Farmers who produce food. Food that is nutritious, non-toxic and with life forces.
It’s not easy to convince them to consider biodynamic as an alternative. Most of them are wary and suspicious of agriculture lecturers or advisors due to past unpleasant experiences.
Like art critics who cannot paint; a knowledgeable person is unable to farm the land of farmers attributable to no real practical experience in farming.
With feedback from the ground, MDA has evolved to stay relevant to the need of farmers. A paradigm shift takes time, patience and perseverance on our part.
South Africa launches its biodynamic practicioners award
The Biodynamic Agricultural Association of Southern Africa launched its Biodynamic Practitioners Award in April this year, in an effort to seek out and recognize those farm workers who have thrown themselves fully into the ways of biodynamic farming. These are the farm workers that show exceptional interest and understanding of the biodynamic work on the farm, who take the initiative when it comes to doing the biodynamic sprays, who remind the farmer when it is time to insert the compost preparations and who can be trusted to do the biodynamic activities correctly and without supervision.
The first award was given out to Qondisani Bhengu (also known as Sunshine), who works on Tourgar Farm in KwaZulu Natal, which is currently part of a local Demeter PGS programme. When Qondisani started working at Tourgar Farm, which had just been bought by current owner, Karen Mack, he was fresh out of school and knew nothing at all about biodynamics. But Karen had a dream to farm in a sustainable way, and began her exploration into biodynamics, taking Qondisani on the journey with her. Little by little they learnt together, and soon Qondisani was taking the lead in making and using the preparations, amongst other things. Today he has a thorough understanding of both the theory and practice of biodynamic farming, a thirst for more knowledge and a love of all things biodynamic.
Much of the teaching was not new to Qondisani, who grew up in the rural countryside outside Pietermarizburg, where everyone grew vegetables in a natural way – planting mielies between beans, using chicken manure and planting and harvesting only on certain days. The only difference he sees between the old natural ways of his village and biodynamic farming is the use of the preparations. He says he has worked on compost heaps with preparations and without preparations – and that the difference is easy to see, the plants just ‘look different’.
Qondisani believes that his involvement in biodynamic farming has had a profound effect on his personal nature. When he came to the farm, he was aggressive, with a very short fuse that led to all sorts of altercations. Now he reflects that he is calmer, and thinks things through properly before doing anything. “As I learn about the plants, I learn about myself, and become a better person.”
We are so proud to hand out our first Biodynamic Practitioners Award to Qondisani and look forward to seeing him progress far in the field of Biodynamic Agriculture!
News from the World
IV Symposium on Organic and Biodynamic Agriculture 15-16 June 2022 El Ejido (Almeria, Spain)
The 4th Symposium of Organic and Biodynamic Agriculture will be held under the motto 'Ecology and Biodynamics: United for the same purpose'.
Next to the 600 square metre venue Teatro Auditorio de El Ejido will stand an outdoor marquee with stands from different companies linked to the organic and biodynamic sector.
The Symposium aims to involve professionals, researchers, technicians, and students, both national and international, related to organic and biodynamic agriculture.
This year's theme 'Ecology and Biodynamics: United for the same purpose' will bring together great speakers from the ecological and biodynamic world who will share an informative and scientific theme through keynote speeches and round table discussions in the morning and a practical and commercial theme from different companies in the afternoon.
The organizers: Agrocolor, Coexphal, Fundación Cajamar, Revista F&H, Surya and Vellsamwith the collaboration of El Ejido Town Council
Biodynamic farming as a resource for sustainability transformations New publication
Cyrille Rigolot from INRAE and Martin Quantin from the Biodynamic Research Association propose in this article a perspective on biodynamics in the context of current environmental challenges. Based on the most recent scientific studies, they show that biodynamics is part of a global and holistic scientific approach.
Change in Leadership at IFOAM - Organics International Goodbye & Outlook
As you know IFOAM - Organics International has been through some tough times recently. We thank you for your support in the past few months which, as we turn 50, will help us shape organics in the coming decades.
Our Executive Director, Louise Luttikholt has helped us navigate some very turbulent times She now wishes to take on other work challenges and will therefore leave the organization on July 31st 2022.
“It’s been a rewarding experience leading IFOAM – Organics International for four years: to accompany and coordinate the organic movement, cooperate with partners, guide the organizational development, bring in new institutional donors and put members, and with that farmer organisations and all of their concrete daily hard work, center stage.
I’ve dedicated lots of energy in challenging times and under difficult circumstances. This has affected my well-being and I have now decided to move on to a more practical, hands-on area of work. I remain committed to bringing true sustainability to agriculture!” - Louise Luttikholt
We thank her for her hard work, dedication and valuable contributions to the organization. We intend to hire an interim Executive Director and then initiate the recruitment process for a permanent Executive Director.
IFOAM - Organics International is about to design a new strategy for the coming years. As we prepare for the future, it is important to celebrate our achievements and reflect on how they can inspire the future. One of these moments will happen in October in South Korea. We are now working on an exciting and engaging program, updates will follow soon!
In the meantime, to celebrate our 50th anniversary, we have created the Year of Organics toolkit which you can use to raise awareness of the benefits of organic agriculture!
Karen Mapusua, World Board President of IFOAM - Organics International
Sustainable Foods Summit System Amsterdam, 7-8 July 2022
The Sustainable Foods Summit returns to Amsterdam on 7-8 July 2022. The aim of the Sustainable Foods Summit is to explore new horizons for eco-labels and sustainability in the food industry by discussing key industry issues.
How are eco-labels, such as organic and fairtrade, evolving in the food industry? With growing proliferation in labels, what are the prospects for a single sustainability standard for food products? What is the future outlook for plant-based foods? What developments are occurring in sustainable ingredients? How can good & beverage firms move away from single-use plastic packaging? How can operators close their material loops? Such questions are regularly addressed at this international series of summits.
Topics include organic & eco-labels outlook, regenerative agriculture, plant-based foods, upcycled ingredients, sustainable proteins, organic ingredient pricing forecasts, plastic-free materials, blockchain technology, marketing best-practices, consumer insights, and more.
Since 2009, theSustainable Foods Summit has been covering major developments in the food industry concerning sustainability and and eco-labels, such as Organic, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, etc. Other editions in this international series will be in Latin America (29-30 Nov 2022), North America (17-18 Jan 2023), and the Asia-Pacific (4-5 Sep 2023). The summits bring together some of the most influential organisations involved in sustainability and eco-labels in the food industry.
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 July 2022. If you would like to submit any articles or comments, please send your contributions to: email@example.com.