„I enjoy every single day I can spend in my fields. Even if it is not always easy, trying to work in harmony with nature fullfills me, I am thankful that I can farm!“
Petra Derkzen, Ekoboerderij de Lingehof, Netherlands
Human development is at the heart of Demeter’s principles. The social, emotional and intellectual growth of human beings in harmony with nature is a big part of our mission – for the benefit of all of the beings in the global organism that is our precious planet.
“Many of our grapevines were planted decades ago and have been cultivated over the years. The older the vines, the more interesting the fruits they bear. Thinking about generations to come requires a great deal of foresight and patience!”
Elisabetta Foradori, Agricola Foradori, Italy
Development is a journey. Ours is not a fixed and ideal world with no shortcomings. We are a developing community in a challenging, ever-changing world. Our sights are set on the highest quality, fair relationships along the value chain and the growth of biodynamic agriculture. We hope to inspire others with our ideals, we learn from our mistakes and we try hard to improve – every step of the way.
Demeter’s engagement in politics deals with the changes we need in global agriculture, like the cost-by-cause principle, plant and animal breeding and soil fertility.
„On our biodynamic banana plantation we also grow high-value complementary crops such as coconuts, cocoa, legumes, papaya, soursop and cover soil plants. I also introduced bees and happy chicken to our plantation, along with several flowering plants. This helps me improve the health of my farming system and increase biodiversity and soil fertility. I produce wholesome fruits with the help of compost, bioferments, plant extracts and natural microorganisms instead of chemicals such as pesticides or fertilizers.”
Rámon Medrano, Banelino, Dominican Republic
Before products arrive at the market or on the shelves, everyone involved in the value chain is certified in accordance with Demeter standards, as well as being subjected to regular inspections. But our members do more than just stubbornly adhere to our guidelines and standards. Every farm is different, and every farm manager has his or her own personal strengths and ideas. The development of each farm is a collaborative project with our respective local partners. We view ourselves as a development alliance, a community that goes far beyond merely checking off standards. Only those who consider the local conditions and form trustworthy relationships are on the right path, doing everything possible to find the best solutions for people, animals and the environment.
“With biodynamic plant breeding, we can take the images of plants shaped by materialistic and technical thinking and expand on them to counteract the monopolization of seed production. This type of breeding means that the care of the plants lies in the hands of the farmers – not global corporates.”
Johanna Fellner, Dottenfelderhof, Germany
Many things are at home in and on Demeter soil. GMOs and all new genetic engineering breeding techniques are certainly not. We don’t want our arable land and our environment contaminated by genetically modified organisms, which is why we advocate internationally banning genetic engineering in agriculture. We cultivate plants that are diverse and able to thrive in the conditions found at their locations.
“Grasping what the soil needs requires sensitivity, gentleness and connection. It is a continuous process of love and care to discover what its needs are at every moment. I adjust my crop rotations and green manure accordingly, always aiming to increase the natural fertility of the humus produced from soil critters like earthworms and microorganisms. Working with biodynamic preparations made of herbs, cow manure, silica and horn helps support the fertility of the soil and keep it alive in the long term – a true paradise for earthworms.”
Pasquale Falzarano, Agrilatina, Italy
How do we treat the ground we walk on every day? As an object of speculation? Subjecting it to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, compaction, erosion, humus depletion? Healthy soil is alive. Humus formation is essential for good plant growth while simultaneously reducing CO2 in the atmosphere. Biodynamic methods are the most regenerative form of agriculture, in tune with nature, providing an agricultural solution in times of climate change.
We treat our precious soil with care and nurture it by using cow manure, not chemicals. We also support the metabolic processes in the soil by using something called biodynamic preparations. Biodynamic farmers help strengthen the soil – the foundation for healthy plants, food and a healing planet.
“My wife Katja and I farm about 100 hectares of arable land and 50 hectares of grassland in second generation according to Demeter guidelines. We live on the farm together with our daughter Lilly-Sophie und Naja-Tessa. In addition to livestock and grain, we grow carrots and red beets, and we also cultivate meadow orchards with apple and pear trees. We deliver our harvests to a juice producer, who processes our vegetables and fruit as gently as possible, making sure their essential nutrients are not lost and the freshness from the field and the natural taste end up right there in the bottle.”
Thomas Schneider, Demeterhof Schneider, Germany
Food in its truest form. Pristine, unadulterated ingredients ensure that Demeter food is full of flavor and vitality. Take bread, for example: It needs time – one of the most essential ingredients. Very few natural additives are allowed, and only if necessary. Demeter manufacturers put the quality and freshness of food first, instead of efficiency and technologies that shorten production time, lengthen storage life or make it all cheaper. The craftmanship in our production process results in digestible, delicious and flavorful food, packed with nutrition.
“A horn is a living organ with very good blood circulation. The horns grow in the course of a cow’s lifetime – they grow larger and take on their own individual shape: unique, like a person’s fingerprint. Needless to say, I respect this important organ my cattle have, and I enjoy watching them communicate with one another in the herd, resulting in a harmonious hierarchy.”
Francis Rolton, Tablehurst Farm, United Kingdom
Biodynamic farmers maintain the dignity of their animals, and they see how important horns are for animals for communication within the herd. These pioneers in sustainable agriculture recognize that nature indeed knows what it’s doing.
Demeter’s guidelines prohibit the dehorning of animals and the breeding of hornless animals. Respect for living creatures is the number one priority for members of Demeter’s organization. Demeter farmers don’t force their animals to adapt to ‘production conditions’, instead they build stalls large enough to meet their cows’ needs.
“Domaine du Geissberg’s herd of goats is made up of around 80 goats. Each one has a name: Dordogne (the chef), Diva and Ellebore, and there are even goats named Histoire, Himalaya, Jasmin and Raspberry.
During the spring and summer months, our goats live out in the meadow day and night until heavy autumn rains or the first snowfall put an end to it. During the summertime, the goats are accompanied by a traveling milking platform, so they are milked right there in the meadow. In the winter, the goats are fed on hay and sometimes a little cereal and fodder beets, until they return to the meadow in the spring.”
Stéphane Fernex, Domaine du Geissberg, France
Animal welfare is key when it comes to Demeter’s animal husbandry, and it plays a crucial part in our standards. Animals deserve to live with dignity, which is why our farmers provide healthy feed and plenty of space both in shelters and outside.
Demeter farmers respect their animals, so they do not remove their horns or cut or trim their beaks or tails.
Our farmers do not systematically and preventatively medicate their animals ‘just in case’. In many cases, injured or sick animals are healed using natural and homeopathic remedies.
“Bees are sensitive and open creatures; they are the ones who show us how we humans are treating the earth. Through my work I dive deep into their world. I strive to respect their rhythms and needs, and contribute to their health.”
Jasper Heilmann, Imkerei Heilmann, Germany
Demeter understands the mutual interdependencies in the ecosystem and collaborates with all of nature’s stakeholders. Biodiversity is essential for Demeter farmers worldwide, so they create biotopes for all living things on their farms – from the smallest insect to the largest animal and all of the life in-between.
Soil and plant life are eroded and disappear over time due to the use of chemical fertilizers, bulldozers and monocultures in conventional farming. Biodynamic farming restores fertility, sequesters carbon and regenerates insect, plant and animal life. At least 10% of the farm’s total area is dedicated to biodiversity, which is unique to biodynamic farming.
“When our parents started organic agriculture in the late 1970s, it was natural for them to cultivate “organically”, as their grandparents did. In the 1990s we learned about biodynamics and it was an instant fit. At the beginning it was a big adventure and many neighbours did not take it seriously. Today, over 40 years later, the „working family“ has grown by about 150 co- workers and many acres of land (over 800 hectares!) … each one of which is biodynamic, living, with fully fertile soil.
We create a variety of products: wine, extra virgin olive oil, pecorino cheese, antipasti, pasta, sauces, and sweet delicacies. All are produced in-house, directly from our vineyards to the bottle, from our vegetable garden to the jar…
When we talk about sustainability, it is often about the reduction of C02 from production, including ours … but what many forget is the earth. Because only on a living soil life can arise, if the soil is dead, we have a huge problem. So we depend on a few meters of earth, and at La Vialla we do everything we can to conduct them as naturally and respectfully as possible.”
Gianni Lo Franco, Fattoria La Vialla, Italy
Demeter farmers create a cultural landscape worth living in – for plants, animals and humans. Farms shape the landscape in every region of the world. When people cultivate land and develop farms in harmony with nature and the individual environment, they are giving a boost to the economy, to culture and to nature conservation: They are creating a place for jobs, for people with special needs and for recreational and cultural events. They become a setting where city and countryside can come together – with farm events and tours and educational programs for kids.
“We embrace challenges. We highly value our connection to the local community, of which we are all individual parts, and we strive to operate a farm business that is a transparent example of ethical and sustainable agriculture on every level, offering on living display the full cycle of food production. Plaw Hatch Farm is a 200-acre farm on the edge of Ashdown Forest near Sharpthorne, UK. It has been a biodynamic farm for over 30 years and is owned by a charitable trust. In total we farm close to 500 acres within a 12-mile radius of the main farm. We are a mixed farm with a dairy herd providing raw milk, cheeses, yoghurts and cream. We also keep some sheep, pigs and laying hens. A garden of 12 acres provides a range of seasonally available fruit and vegetables. We see ourselves as stewards of the farm, embodying man’s sacred relationship to the land, creating a legacy of richness on every level for future generations.”
Rose Bramwell & Gala Baily Barker, Plaw Hatch Farm, United Kingdom
Every organ needs the others: humans, plants, animals and soil all work together. The number of animals depends on the acreage and they are fed directly from the farm’s land. Farmers use their manure for continuous soil fertility and good crop growth.
If a farm is organized by applying this principle and uses its own resources to form a system of soil life, plant development and appropriate animal husbandry, then we can rightly call it a living farm organism.
Biodynamic farming means being part of an organism, humble towards Mother Earth and respectful to its partners at the farm. Behind every Demeter product stands a person who has committed themselves to values and principles. This healthy attitude of Demeter farmers is the real treasure behind the product. It ensures vegetables, fruit and meat are full of love, dedication, courage, dignity, truth and joy. These are the nutritional values our body and soul needs for growth and development.