Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Our Farm Certifications: Organic and Biodynamic

Organic Certification
Starting with our organic fertilizer recipe in our first catalog, we have always been committed to being at the forefront of sustainable, natural, and organic agriculture. Before the process of organic farming had been codified by the USDA our farm was putting natural and organic growing methods to use.

In the early years our farm was certified Organic by Oregon Tilth, and more recently by Stellar Certification Services, which allows us to label the seed we produce as USDA Certified Organic. To be certified we must show that the only inputs to our certified fields are also certified organic, and any pest control methods must also be certified organic. Our farm, as well as our storage and packaging facilities must also be certified, thus ensuring that all steps of the process to get the seed from our fields to you guarantee that your seed is organic. We have yearly inspections with a certifier at Stellar to show that we have a continued commitment for producing the highest quality organic seed.

Biodynamic Certification

What is Biodynamic?
Biodynamic is defined as a consciously ethical and ecological approach to agriculture, food production and nutrition. Biodynamic agriculture was first developed in the early 1920s and today, the Biodynamic movement encompasses thousands of successful gardens, farms, vineyards and agricultural operations of all kinds and sizes on all continents, in a wide variety of ecological and economic settings.

Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being grown.
Most Biodynamic initiatives seek to embody triple bottom-line approaches (ecological, social and economic sustainability). Community supported agriculture (CSA), for example, was pioneered by Biodynamic farmers, and many Biodynamic practitioners work in creative partnerships with farms, schools, medical and wellness facilities, restaurants, hotels, homes for social therapy and other organizations. Biodynamics is thus not just a holistic agricultural system but also a potent movement for new thinking and practices in all aspects of life connected to food and agriculture.

Biodynamic at our London Spring Farms
Intrigued by the fact that Biodynamic seed performed exceedingly well in our vegetable trials, owner Tom Johns traveled to Europe to visit large and small Biodynamic seed growers that had implemented Biodynamic practices. He saw the advantage of Biodynamic grown seed, and the need to bring Biodynamic farming practices and techniques to the US. The Biodynamic farms produced bountiful crops, and the seeds harvested from these crops had exceptional vigor. These farms were able to produce crops and seeds in a way that was much more “whole farm” sustainable than current organic practices. In fact, they were light years beyond. Tom often refers to Biodynamic as “beyond organic.”

Upon returning to the US, Tom began the process of certifying our organic farm as Biodynamic. Through a process that took over two years, the entire farm has achieved the coveted International Demeter Biodynamic Certification.

Changes that have been made to the way our farm operates to receive this accreditation include:

  • Fertility and soil amendments must come from on farm and local sources. This way the farm is more self-sufficient and supports other local agriculture and sustainable growing, reduces waste, and lessens the impact to the environment from fuel reduction.
  • The farm is in the process of becoming a full-life-cycle working farm by using livestock; not only for the production of fertility, but also to balance and maintain proper soil health, weed and pest control, and to create a healthy local ecosystem.
  • The entire farm, including greenhouses and seed cleaning facilities must also be certified Biodynamic, not just individual areas or fields, as is standard in organic certification. This ensures that every aspect of work on the farm maintains the same high quality standards.

The Biodynamic certification process is overseen by Demeter USA. Certification is a stringent process, surpassing the requirements of USDA Organic certification. Demeter is the oldest ecological certification organization in the world. Our Organic and Biodynamic certifications are just two ways we’re working hard to ensure that our seeds and plants are produced with the most ecologically-minded, sustainable methods possible.

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