Biodynamic farming, a “beyond organic” approach to agriculture long respected in Europe, may finally be poised for a breakthrough in the U.S. It has growing cachet in the wine industry, where biodynamic wines earn both high scores and high price points. Prince Charles speaks of its ecological, spiritual, and cultural importance. And the unimpeachably mainstream Today show recently aired a segment by Maria Shriver touting biodynamic produce’s flavor and benefits to health and soil quality.
With its emphasis on approaching the farm as an integrated living organism and the farmer as a deeply knowledgeable orchestrator, biodynamics is a natural path to regenerative agriculture—a real corrective to the negative effects of our dominant food system. Realizing the potential of biodynamics, however, will require an investment strategy that is also regenerative.
The industrialized agriculture system we have today—including industrialized organic agriculture—grew out of a particular capital approach: extractive, impatient, and designed to maximize profit rather than value for the community. We’re not going to create a different kind of agriculture with the same kind of capital.
Now, while the biodynamic market is where the organic movement was about 20 years ago, is the perfect time to look at how we can build a biodynamic farming movement with long-term integrity in mind. The central question is, can we grow the biodynamics market with capital that is consistent with the farming philosophy?
Building a balanced farm ecosystem
Similar to organic farming, biodynamic agriculture eschews synthetic pesticides and herbicides, GMOs, and hormones and other pharmaceutical growth promoters for livestock. But biodynamic farming goes well beyond that. It stands out for its system-level approach. Farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility from within the farm as much as possible. Accordingly, the biodynamic certifier, Demeter, certifies whole farms rather than rather than individual crops, ingredients, or parcels of land.