With each passing day the importance of supporting every effort contributing to soil fertility and climate change mitigation increases. Here at BFDI we are developing systems to measure and value the contribution our farmers are making to address these challenges. We are also exploring new ways to finance the efforts made by farmers in these areas, beyond our advocacy for fair pricing.
In Europe we are lobbying for a change in the subsidies system, towards payments for real sustainability performances. For all other countries, where governments are not yet offering any subsidies for more sustainable forms of agriculture, we are developing mechanisms to try to motivate consumers and companies to contribute to the development of resilient biodynamic farms.
We hope that many of you will support us in developing this system. As a first step, we want to list all the positive work that our farmers are doing. All farms certified by BFDI will receive a questionnaire; please do respond and participate to help us in this initiative. Christoph Simpfendörfer, General Secretary of the Biodynamic Federation Demeter International
Newsletter translation information
It is possible to translate the newsletter into different languages. When you receive the newsletter:
Open it in your browser
Click on 'Translate' in the top right corner, and select your language
A Google search link will appear on the top left with your selection. Please click on the 'search' function and the newsletter will be translated automatically.
The Importance of Training to Grow a Biodynamic Movement Biodynamics in China
Since 2020, the Demeter China Association (DCA), has been active in its work to develop biodynamic agriculture locally. The association has organized different workshops on biodynamic preparations at different farms. These workshops have been open to the whole community including BD and organic farmers, traders, consumers, or anyone interested in farming. The DCA’s training approach goes beyond the just the delivery of BD knowledge or practical skills, but also aims to provide a holistic experience of training by engaging the student's whole being, including their thinking, feeling, and willing spheres.
DCA member Hermin Tang shared his experiences and the challenges of promoting biodynamics through various training activities - “As a participant who joined all the preparation workshops, it’s an amazing experience to notice all the nuances while making preparations every year, it is a time to see whether I have sharpened both my skills and sensory perceptions”.
They have for example integrated online talks with foreign trainers, live practical experience with Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese Martial art, which have also become a common practice in BD training workshops.
Through these training workshop the bonds and networks within the community have been strengthened. The community is relatively small, and, as Hermin expressed, the DCA is in need of support from its peers and guidance from more experienced BD farmers. The association’s main priority now is to grow the BD community and develop networks among practitioners, and the training workshops have had that valuable impact. For Hermin, this has been challenging, but also rewarding – “I also enjoyed getting familiar with all the new faces in the BD community, especially young people. Young power is badly needed in promoting BD farming in the future, I hope we could find a communication style that is attractive to more young people at large”.
Nevertheless, while BD agriculture has developed for more than 20 years in China, Hermin acknowledges the need for more experienced trainers who can support training initiatives throughout the country not only on preparations, but also on other fundamental areas such as animal husbandry, bee keeping, etc.
The DCA have identified different paths or strategies that could contribute to the strengthening and further development of the movement in Asia. Hermin recognized there is an urgent need to raise awareness of biodynamic agriculture and biodynamic/Demeter products within the country. At the same time, there are potentially valuable contributions by integrating traditional Chinese farming wisdom with biodynamic farming principles, as a means to keep farming traditions passed on.
Attracting and integrating more young people to the movement has also been identified as fundamental to the development of biodynamics in Asia. Finally, the DCA is working strengthen the networks of support and learning within the international community. The annual BD agriculture conference by the Section for Agriculture of the Goetheanum, as well as the exchange of experiences and training material with the Philippines, Malaysia and India association are considered valuable networks.
If you would like to know more about training opportunities in China please contact Hermin Tang at:firstname.lastname@example.org.
ART Committee Funding 2022
On behalf of the ART committee, we would like to thank all member associations and organisations who applied to the ART fund 2022. We have received a total of 15 project applications from all around the world. This is by far the largest and most diverse response to an ART funding call. The number of applications to fund projects unfortunately exceeds the available budget for the ART Fund 2022 of 52,400 Euro. This means that the ART committee will have to fund some proposed projects only partially, and in other cases, projects may not receive ART funding. We believe it is important that all member associations are aware and acknowledge the reality of the 2022 ART funds.
The ART Committee was encouraged by the quality and vision of the applications it received. All proposals for projects sought to meaningfully contribute through either Advisory, Research or Training to the development of the biodynamic movement at a local or regional scale. They were all considered very valuable by the Federation. The decision on which projects will be funded, and the maximum amount they may receive, will be made based on an objective and transparent assessment process. To this end, the aim, scope, and impact of each project will be reviewed against the following criteria list as described in the application letter:
Capacity to strengthen connections with the source of biodynamic agriculture, which is anthroposophy
Capacity for results to be shared and utilized by other members
Strength of collaboration with partners within the Federation and/or outside partners – the other working fields of the anthroposophical movement (Waldorf education, Anthroposophical medicine)
Social goals; building networks and knowledge exchange
Realistic proposal in terms of objective and results versus investment in time and money.
Constructing new connections that were not yet there
Capacity to involve young people and new generations in project activities and intended benefits
Priority to low-income countries
Subsidiarity – what can be done locally or nationally should not be overtaken internationally
Another important criterion that will influence the final decision is the level of co-financing of the project. As stated in the application letter the Federation will not cover 100% of a project, and additional local funding is necessary.
The results of the ART Funds applications 2022 will be officially communicated to all applicants in May 2022. It you have any doubts or require further information, please contact Petra Derkzen(email@example.com) or Paz Bernaschina (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Executive Team Meeting Reuniting in Germany
From March 21 to 23, the Executive Team of the Federation met in person in the premises of our head office in Stuttgart, Germany.
Present at the meeting was the executive board comprising Christoph Simpfendörfer and Alysoun Bolger, and the executive team comprising Albrecht Benzing – Quality Manager, Sarah Fischer – Head of Trademark, Katja Aßmann – Head of Marketing & Communication, Jean-Marie Defrance – Head of Administration, Clara Behr – Head of Lobby & Public Relations and Cornelia Hauenschild – Head of Certification. Petra Derkzen - Head of Advisory, Research and Training – could unfortunately not join the meeting, she was present with us in thoughts however.
The team felt blessed to have the opportunity to finally meet again after such a long time without seeing each other due to the pandemic. Each team member went home filled with new energy and thoughts enriched by working together with such a great team!
The topics of discussion were numerous, starting with the preparations for the online extraordinary Members’ Assembly in June and the physical Members’ Assembly in November taking place in Chile and ending with the new projects ahead (see our editorial). The meeting was also dedicated to internal self-development questions, as the Federation is growing rapidly and needs to work on internal processes.
With a remote team working in different countries most of the time, the meeting was also an opportunity to get to know each other better and spend some time together. Being so close to the Reyerhof, a Demeter certified farm, it was quite natural to spend some time on the farm discovering the animals and the functioning of the farm, but also looking together at the biodynamic preparations for new inspiration. Next to the visit of the farm, a tour of the city of Stuttgart also gave some new perspectives, and the shared meals were the perfect way to pursue the conversations and to share experiences.
The executive team now looks forward to its next meeting which will take place in the UK in September!
The Executive Team of the Federation
Policy and Public Relations
Just launched: Petition on New GMOs
Sign our petition!
The European Commission plans to exclude new GMOs from the existing EU GMO regulation, threatening to allow GM food on the market without labelling, safety checks or traceability. This would greatly jeopardize our freedom of choice and the safety of our food and environment.
With our petition we call on EU decision makers to take a strong stand against any deregulation attempts and to uphold mandatory safety checks, transparency and labelling for all GMOs on the market so that we know what is on our fields and plates!
A coalition of more than 35 organisations in 15 different countries across the EU runs and supports this petition, among which are several member organisations of the Federation. You can sign and share the petition at least until July 2022. Non-EU citizens are also welcome to sign the petition.
If you want 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: email@example.com.
Internal area for Lobby and Public Relations Feedback - Training session
On March 29 the Lobby and Public Relations section of the Federation offered a training session on the internal area recently created on the website. You can watch the recording here. Please beware that the link is only available until 17 April.
The aim of the session was mainly to guide the participants through the internal area and present all the material available. It was also an opportunity to update on our policy work in general and discuss the work ahead on the relevant policy areas.
The internal area contains all the material published on the different policy topics such as plant breeding or animal welfare. But it also includes all our press releases and materials from the different training sessions. It is accessible on our website. Please note that it is password protected. If you are interested and want to access the internal area contact Clara Behr at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global Policy Toolkit to support organic farming IFOAM Organics International
IFOAM Organics International produced a Global Policy Toolkit on Public Support to Organic Agriculture. It is aimed at anyone who would lilke to engage in advocacy work on organic farming and presents a compilation of facts, arguments and tips on policy measures that can be conceived to support organic agriculture. The report is targeted to policy makers and policy advocates.
The toolkit entails different presentations, tips and templates that can help you to develop your own advocacy work. It is not only a source of inspiration, but also a great tool to facilitate the policy work to support organic farming with strong arguments, examples and storylines. All the documents are accessible here. Most of them are available in different languages, mainly French and Spanish. There is also a Sub-Saharan African version.
You can find additional information and more toolkits directly on the IFOAM website.
It has always been an essential concern of biodynamic agriculture to produce a comprehensive quality of food. This should go beyond the outward appearance and also include the vitality, authenticity, meaningfulness, even the ethics of production.
How does biodynamic quality come about and how can it be recorded holistically? Is it different from other methods? And what are the challenges for a healthy diet in the future? These questions will be answered by Jean-Michel Florin in his contribution to the new Goetheanum TV series: "Anthroposophy – an extension of science?”
Biodynamic Food Quality and Nutrition New 'Deepen Biodynamics' Online Course
with Dr. Jasmin Peschke and others
23 May - 1 June 2022, Mondays and Wednesdays at 13:30 CEST
20 June - 30 June 2022, Mondays and Thursdays at 13:30 CEST
We are all concerned with nutrition because we all eat. But what is healthy nutrition, and what do we eat?
If we look at the world situation, we observe that malnutrition is steadily increasing.
Is it enough to see nutrition as the intake of nutrients in the form of food? The essential thing about nutrition is not that the stomach is filled, but that we receive stimulation, says Rudolf Steiner. We want to broaden our view of nutrition together and let this aspect become an experience.
Can nutrition be healthy when the soil on which our food was produced is increasingly losing its fertility? Quality is formed in the field and depends on the conditions under which the plant grows and is cultivated. We are therefore investigating which factors are important in the process of creating food so that it promotes our resilience and health.
The online course "Nutrition and Biodynamic Food Quality" is intended as a basic course. It includes the main features of dynamic nutrition – from the field to the plate. In addition, the most important methods and findings in the study of food quality are presented and practiced in an introductory way. And there are shared exercises to strengthen your own nutrition skills.
Seed Library: Conserving agrobiodiversity and forming a seed savers network
In March 2022, the Brazilian Biodynamic Association, in partnership with ABDSUL, Instituto Kairos and Instituto Federal SUL-MG, launched a new initiative for the conservation of agrobiodiversity: the "Library of Seeds". Its objective is to create seed saving guidelines, and encourage citizens and farmers to be seed savers and to replicate and maintain the diversity of agricultural plants in general.
The ‘Seed Library’ was created to strengthen the exchange of information on seeds available from ABD seed banks and partner institutions for this initiative. When the farmer selects seeds adapted to his location, he is individualizing this variety in the formation of the agricultural organism.
Biodynamic Preparations in the Vineyard Demeter Canada presents on Sat, April 23, 2022 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM CEST
Don't miss the rare opportunity to hear and question Jean-Michel Florin, co-leader of the Section for Agriculture at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, author of Biodynamic Wine Growing and Understanding the Vine and Its Rhythms and an expert in viticulture.
He offers practical advice about the how, when and why of using the biodynamic preparations in the vineyard. There will be an opportunity to ask questions of the speaker following the talk.
Tickets are on sale through Eventbrite. If you want to get a ticket, please follow this link.
Czech Republic & Slovakia
Czech Agricultural School for Organic and Biodynamic Farming "Farmářská škola"
How are the Farm School students doing? - Have a look at the video!
In spring 2021 we opened the first year of the "Farmářská škola" in the Czech Republic - a practice-oriented ecological and biodynamic agricultural education. The initiator and director of the project is Jiří Prachař, a Czech farmer and social pedagogue, who has been involved in biodynamic agriculture in the Czech Republic and especially during his almost ten-year stay in Germany, during his studies at the Landbauschule Dottenfelderhof and the University of Kassel, and while practising his agricultural profession on various Demeter farms in North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden Würtenberg and Hesse. He also worked for three years as a seminar leader at Freie Ausbildung West.
The "Farmářská škola" is a three-year practical training on selected organic and biodynamic farms (ca. 40 farms) in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, accompanied by theoretical seminars lasting several days. They take place once a month on one of the training farms and are mainly conducted by Czech and Slovak experts - farmers, scientists or university professors. However, the seminars are often also led by guest lecturers from Germany and Austria. In the third year of the "Farmářská škola", the trainees are recommended to complete a one-year internship on one of the cooperating farms abroad. It depends primarily on the trainee's language skills, depending on which destination they choose, but also on their individual possibilities.
We are (unfortunately) the only ones in the Czech Republic offering training in organic and biodynamic agriculture. We are experiencing a lot of interest in this field. The applicants (and finally the trainees) represent a very diverse spectrum - students from horticultural and agricultural schools, conventional farmers who want to convert to organic farming, total career changers, or otherwise socially engaged people who perceive the desolate state of the planet and thus of agriculture and want to contribute to healing through their work.
Due to high demand, we have also opened a part-time course in 2022. It is mainly attended by already active farmers who lack agricultural theory. At the same time, we are striving for state recognition of the Higher Vocational School, which would have many positive effects for the "Farmářská škola" itself, for the apprentices and also for the establishment of organic and biodynamic agriculture in the Czech and Slovak scene. We hope that we will be able to meet all the requirements and that "Farmářská škola" will be an officially recognised vocational school for organic and biodynamic agriculture by 2023.
We also try to make it possible for our farmers to give interesting lectures on teaching farms. Most of them have no organic, let alone biodynamic training, as there was no such training in the Czech Republic so far. Therefore, they have rather picked up the ecological principles themselves out of enthusiasm or during stays abroad. All lectures and courses at the "Farmářská škola" are therefore recorded on camera or streamed live.
As the biodynamic association Demeter Czech Republic and Slovakia we strive for the development of biodynamics in both countries and are aware that this is related to the quality of education. That is why our main focus is on education and the passing on of experience. We try to support the "Farmářská škola" as much as possible within our possibilities. And because we have experienced first-hand how difficult it was to get into ecology or biodynamics in the Czech Republic and Slovakia not so long ago, it is crucial for us that the young people of today find a more direct path to biodynamic and organic agriculture.
Jiří Prachař for Demeter Czech & Slovakia
Biodynamics New Zealand is excited for their 2022 Conference "Breathing Life Through Preparations"
Come join us online for a wonderful day exploring the fundamentals of biodynamic preparations here in New Zealand, as we breathe life into the practicality and ease of creating, storing and using preps within the community.
With core values of enhancing life rather than fighting disease, and utilizing the biodynamic preparations in full trust with deep intentions, the time is critical to come together and work in harmony with our universe, to heal ourselves and our communities.
Whether you are new on your journey of biodynamics, or a seasoned practitioner, everyone is welcome to learn, discover, investigate and reinvigorate with us.
Personnel changes at the Swiss Demeter office Verena Wahl & Marco Staub
Susanne Huber, the Head of Agriculture, has decided to leave the Demeter office in Switzerland at the end of April. The Executive Committee and the management of the office regret this very much. With her we are losing a committed and pragmatic Division Manager, a great and prudent Co-Managing Director and a highly valued colleague with a great deal of practical agricultural know-how.
Verena Wahl (see photo) succeeded Susanne Huber as Co-Managing Director and Head of Agriculture in mid-March. After her training as a hotel manager, she studied organic agriculture and was most recently the operational manager of the Section for Agriculture at the Goetheanum.
Corinne Obrist will remain with the Office as Project Manager for Agriculture and Politics, an important pillar of the Section.
Marco Staub also joined the Agriculture team at the beginning of March. After completing his commercial training, he studied environmental engineering with a specialisation in organic agriculture and runs an organic farm.
With Verena Wahl and Marco Staub, two experienced people have been recruited for these demanding tasks.
News from the World
Appeal for donations - Ukraine Biodynamic farm in Potutory
Thousands of people are fleeing due to the war in Ukraine, especially from the embattled areas in the east and south of Ukraine and, of course, from Kyiv. The biodynamic farm in Potutory – located in a rural area in the west of Ukraine – immediately agreed to take in people and provide them with a safe place to stay and shelter on their way further west.
The first people have already arrived. Thus, food, heating, transport and an appropriate infrastructure must be provided.
With a one-off sum of 500 Swiss francs, 20 mattresses and blankets can be purchased.
With 420 Swiss francs, one refugee can be fed and cared for for a month, including heating; in the summer months this amount is reduced to half.
With 500 Swiss francs per month, Potutory can cover the additional organisational costs, i.e. staff for purchasing, kitchen, cleaning and management.
It would also be urgent to improve the current sanitary facilities, as the farm currently only has two simple dry toilets outside.
If sufficient donations are received, paid jobs can be created for the people.
Your donations will be received via “Acacia Fond für Entwicklungszusammenarbeit“. Donations will be transferred to the farm Schiwa semlja Potutory in Ukraine via the account of the association Schiwa Semlja in Switzerland. All incoming funds are used exclusively for the above-mentioned purposes. The Shiwa Semlja Switzerland Association and the local managers guarantee that the money can be received and will be administered transparently.
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 May 2022. If you would like to submit any articles or comments, please send your contributions to: email@example.com.