Biodynamic® certification meets or exceeds the standards of the United States National Organic Program (NOP). In order to qualify for Demeter Biodynamic® status, a farm must first meet the requirements of the NOP. Marian Farms holds both Biodynamic and Organic certifications:
Biodynamic® – certified by the Demeter Association. This certification is awarded for using comprehensive organic farming methods that rely on the creation and management of a farming system that is minimally dependent on imported materials and that meet its needs from the living dynamics of the farm itself.
Organic certified by Stellar Certification Services. Stellar Certification Services is Demeter’s sister company that provides organic certification. Stellar is NOP accredited, so this certification makes Marian Farms compliant with the U.S. National Organic Program.
Biodynamic Practices and Standards FAQs
Q: How do Biodynamic® farming practices exceed the USDA’s National Organic Standards?
A: Here are a few examples taken from Demeter guidelines:
● A farm is a self-contained organism.
● Treated seeds are prohibited.
● No chemicals can be used to enhance yield and size of plants. For example, plant hormones, such as gibberellic acid, are prohibited.
● All composting must happen on the farm. All imported manures and clippings must be composted.
● No animal rendered product can be used in the field and/or for animal feed supplement, for example, bone, blood, hoof and horn meal are prohibited as fertilizers.
● Crops for human use cannot be grown under high voltage power lines.
● Sodium nitrate is prohibited.
Q: Do Biodynamic® farmers use pesticides?
A: Biodynamic® farming is free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. On certified Demeter farms, only plant derived and other short-lived pest controls are permitted, with restrictions. Biodynamic® farmers seek nutrient self-sufficiency via soil husbandry. They use Biodynamic® preparations to build soil health through enlivened compost. These preventive measures increase soil fertility and build up populations of beneficial insects (insects that feed on other bugs), therefore eliminating the use of any type of chemicals for pest control.
Q: Why do Biodynamic® products cost more?
A: Biodynamic® farmers face the additional costs of more labor-intensive field practices and more expensive natural fertilizer (aka compost.) The higher degree of crop loss that may occur when no herbicides or pesticides are used is also a factor. Additionally, when assessing the cost of Biodynamic® products, more than just the sticker price of a single item should be considered. If the overall expenses of the damage caused by conventional (i.e., chemical) food production are considered, such as environmental pollution, health risks to farmers and their workers, and soil erosion, to name a few, the actual cost of conventional foods is astronomical.
Q: What does Demeter certified mean?
A: The Demeter Association of America is the certifying agency for Biodynamic® farming operations. Demeter USA has established a series of guidelines for Biodynamic® as well as organic-in-transition-to-Biodynamic® agricultural practices. Demeter is the Greek goddess of agriculture and fertility. This name was chosen in the late 1920’s by Biodynamic® farmers in Europe to represent their products in the marketplace. The name of the ancient goddess is derived from “Da Meter”, meaning “Mothe” or “Gaia.” Demeter mythology dates back as early as Isis mythology of Egypt. In more recent times, the Roman goddess, Ceres, was associated with many of the same attributes as Demeter. Aurora is a subsidiary of the Demeter Association. It was originally created to certify whole farm systems in the United States and to help facilitate the transition from organic to Biodynamic®. Stellar Certification is a third party certifying agency for the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) and the organic certification arm of Demeter.
When buying Biodynamic® products remember always to look for the Demeter logo. This is the only way to ensure that the product is made in accordance with Biodynamic® agricultural practices. To learn more, visit the Demeter website.
Q: How do Biodynamic® soil practices differ from organic farming practices?
A: Biodynamic® farming considers the soil as a living organism and regards the maintenance and improvement of soil life as key to preserving the soil’s fertility for generations to come. The Biodynamic® farmer mixes carefully portioned amounts of raw materials to form compost according to specified formulæ. The Biodynamic® practitioner’s intent is to produce compost in such a way as to lose as few nutritional elements as possible, while incorporating various dynamic practices.
Dynamic Practices influence both the biological and metaphysical aspects of the farm by increasing the vital life forces and adapting the farm to the natural rhythms of the cosmos.
Anthroposophy: The study of man and his spiritual relationship with the universe.
Ashing: Along with incorporating biological practices, such as cultivating and cover cropping to control weeds, Marian Farms uses the dynamic practice of ashing. This homeopathic technique is considered a weed remedy. The practice involves gathering the seeds or roots of the problematic weed and burning them when the moon is in a fire sign, preferably Leo. The ashes are then ground in a mortar and pestle. We dilute the concentrated material with water and spray the infected area. According to the teachings of Rudolph Steiner, ashing prevents the Moon from exerting its full influence on the weeds.
Cosmic rhythms: The movement and presence of the sun, moon, planets and stars contribute to the life, growth and form of the plant. The movement or rhythm of each cosmic force can be incorporated in the timing of ground preparation, sowing, cultivation and harvest of a crop.
Herbal compost preparations: Developed to help regulate biological processes as well as enhance and strengthen the life forces on the farm. Steiner came up with nine preparations for the purpose of enhancing soil quality and stimulating plant life. They consist of mineral, plant, or animal extracts; some are aged or fermented and applied in small proportions to compost piles, soil, or directly onto plants. An example of a homeopathic remedy for fungal diseases in plants is preparation 508, which is prepared from silica-rich horsetail (Equisetum arvense). This is one of many examples of Biodynamic® herbal preparations which replace toxic synthetic chemicals.
Homeopathic field sprays: A small amount of Biodynamic® preparations is diluted and used as a soil or foliar spray. An example of a field spray would be Biodynamic® preparations 500 or 501. Preparation 501 — horn silica — is made from powdered quartz and cow horn; it is diluted into water and applied as a foliar spray. Water is the carrier, therefore the energy which comes from the preparation is released when it is stirred into a water solution. This preparation stimulates and regulates plant growth.
Planetary rhythms: Lunar and astrological cycles play a key role in timing Biodynamic® practices, such as the making of Biodynamic® preparations and planting and cultivation schedules. Recognition of celestial influences on plant growth are part of the Biodynamic® consciousness which recognizes that subtle energy forces affect biological systems. The most prominently known Biodynamic® agricultural calendar in the United States is Stella Natura. It contains daily and monthly astrological details, and lists suggested times for planting root, leaf, flowering, and fruiting crops.
Whole farm organism: An agricultural philosophy and practice which limits the amount of materials imported onto the farm by creating all nutrient inputs on the farm. For example, growing medicinal herbs for homeopathic applications, and maintaining livestock on the farm to supply manure for compost.