Biodynamic farming practices are already widely-recognised in the wine industry, and are considered to be one of the oldest ’systemised' organic farming methods. This method was introduced and pioneered by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher in the late 19th, early 20th century who was focussed on the idea that farming should not just be about producing crops, but should be about holistic agriculture as part of a wider spiritual philosophy.
How is biodynamic agriculture different from organic?
Biodynamic farming shares many of its principles and methodology with organic farming. There is a big focus on soil health by not using pesticides, herbicides and other toxic ingredients in their farming practices, all of which are normal practises with certified Organic farming too. But there are other principles that go even further than certified Organic farming, based around sustainability and care for the environment through self-sufficient practises.
One of the main principles of biodynamic agriculture is to view the farm as a living being and allowing it to be self-sufficient wherever possible. This is most clearly demonstrated through the production of compost and feed for livestock and is based on the idea of nature being cyclical. The core idea is to put more energy and resource into the land and soil than you take from it, thus completing the cycle. The aim is to have a farm operating almost as its own ecosystem, requiring as little external interference as possible and relying on the unique environment of the farm itself to self-fertilise and maintain balance.
To maintain and encourage such a balance and cycle on the farm, producers use herb-based preparations to aid the germination and photosynthesis of the plants. This promotes microbial activity in the soil, giving the soil improved minerals, nutrients and water that the plants absorb and thus produce better crops. Farmers also use preparados – solutions made from plants, minerals and other natural materials (such as cow manure) diluted down with the aim of passing on “information” from these preparados about balance to the soil. This is very similar to the concepts behind micro-biome diets currently in vogue!
There is also a large part of biodynamic farming that relies heavily on cosmic influences. It’s about looking down at the earth as well as cosmic influences such as the moon, planets and stars to decide when is the best time to plant, cultivate and harvest the crops.
We think the way biodynamic practices ensure a holistic and sustainable approach towards coffee farming and its impact on the environment is super important and that also delivers clear quality in the cup. We’re super proud to have recently achieved Biodynamic certification which allows us to maintain the biodynamic approach through our logistics and roasting systems and more importantly supports the extra effort our certified producers have invested in.
The regulating body for global biodynamic certification is Demeter who you can read up about here.
If you're after some further reading on Biodynamic coffee/practices, we'd recommend one or all of the following: