History

The biodynamic farming movement started almost 100 years ago. This was around the start of industrialisation in the west. A group of farmers in Germany were already noticing the impact that agro-industrial practices, and the use of chemical fertilisers, was starting to have on their soil and yields. They were convinced there had to be a more holistic view on farming and working with nature. So they approached Rudolf Steiner, for his input and inspiration on agriculture, based on his philosophical work. It is from this same philosophy that Waldorf schools and anthroposophic medicine developed.

A farm comes closest to its own essence when it can be conceived of as a kind of independent individuality, a self-contained entity.

Rudolf Steiner, philosopher and founder of anthroposophy

1924

When in the 1920’s the first negative consequences of mineral nitrogen fertilisation became visible, some farmers began to worry about sustainable soil fertility. In 1924, a group of them asked Rudolf Steiner to hold an agricultural course in Koberwitz. This is today recognised as the birth of biodynamic agriculture. Rudolf Steiner described soil as the digestive organ of a plant, indicating that agriculture should focus on nourishing soil and not the plant itself. Only in vital soil food can grow harmoniously.

At Whitsun, Rudolf Steiner held eight lectures entitled “Spiritual foundations for the renewal of Agriculture” at Koberwitz, Silesia. The Experimental Circle of Anthroposophical Farmers immediately tested Steiner’s indications in daily farming practice. Three years later a Co-operative was formed to market biodynamic produce.

1928

The Demeter symbol was introduced and registered as a trademark, and the first standards for Demeter quality control formulated.

1931

Approx. 1000 biodynamic farms in existence.

1941

All Demeter-Organisations and the monthly magazine “Demeter” are forbidden in Germany through the NSDAP.

1946

The ‘Experimental Circle for Biodynamic farming methods‘ (formerly ‘The Experimental Circle of Anthroposophical Farmers’) is established and restructured. The first Introductory course takes place.

1950

The first issue of “Lebendige Erde” (“Living Earth”) was published. In Darmstadt the ‘Institute for Biodynamic Research’ was founded.

1952

Scientific research work began in partnership with German Universities, and other worldwide organisations.

1994

Demeter is the first organic body to produce standards for food processing.

1997

19 independent Demeter organisations, with representatives from Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and United States of America come together to form Demeter-International e.V.

1999

The 75th anniversary of Biodynamics. Important steps are being made on the way to a world-wide trade organisation. Demeter introduces a new logo. The Demeter Processing Standards are ratified world-wide, and more than 3,500 Demeter products are available in shops. From Italian antipasti, whole grain bread, first class wines and award winning ice-cream to clothes and toilet articles. Demeter is the biggest provider of organic goods world-wide.

2002

The International Biodynamic Association (IBDA) is founded on the 1st of November 2002 – including ownership and protection of the trademark “Demeter” and “Biodynamic” all over the world.

2020

Demeter-International and the International Biodynamic Association (IBDA) have joined forces to form the Biodynamic Federation – Demeter International. The new international umbrella organisation thus unites all Biodynamic and Demeter organisations worldwide. The Federation was launched during the annual conference of the Agricultural Section at the Goetheanum in Switzerland in the first week of February 2020.

The Federation welcomes 9 new members from Malaysia, Ecuador, China, Uruguay, Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republic, Lithuania, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

We are looking forward to celebrating 100 Years of biodynamic farming in 2024.

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