Sustainable America Blog

Biodynamic Farming

What is biodynamic farming?

There’s organic, and then there’s biodynamic. Taking organic farming a few steps further, biodynamic farming incorporates social, ecological and economic sustainability into consideration for the total health of the soil as well as the plants and animals that are cultivated on it.

Based on the teachings of Dr. Rudolph Steiner, who also founded the Waldorf school movement, the foundation of biodynamic agriculture is in Steiner’s philosophical ideals which he labeled “anthroposophy“. In this system, nature is seen as an interconnected whole organism with its own rhythm to be observed, respected and supported.

From the Biodynamic Farming Association: “Biodynamics is thus not just a holistic agricultural system but also a potent movement for new thinking and practices in all aspects of life connected to food and agriculture.”

Following phases of the moon, consideration of soil microorganism health and using precise mixtures of minerals and biological composts to replenish the system, biodynamic farming aims to create an ecosystem that needs little to no imports to maintain its health and produce delicious food.

By supporting the total “immune system” of a piece of land rather than just the particular symptoms of a crop, like pests or low yields, biodynamic farming seeks to build a robust and healthy complex and adaptive environment.

The Demeter Association founded in 1985 has taken on the lofty mission of “healing the planet through agriculture.” They describe the biodynamic style of agriculture as a perfect example of a truly sustainable closed-loop system, “It is the biodiversity of the farm, organized so that the waste of one part of the farm becomes the energy for another, that results in an increase in the farm’s capacity for self-renewal and ultimately makes the farm sustainable.”

Biodynamic farms and vineyards can now be found all over the country and internationally. For those interested in learning more, check out these online resources or attend a Biodynamic farming conference this November in Madison, Wisconsin.


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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.

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