What does the term biodynamic mean?
Biodynamic refers to a type of farming that, like organic, doesn’t use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fungicides. Biodynamic accreditation requires diligent soil enrichment, constant plant inspection, and labor-intensive fieldwork (handpicking weeds and insects).
To be certified Biodynamic by the Demeter Association (the preeminent Biodynamic organization in the U.S.), farms are required to have indigenous flowers, trees, livestock (cows, goats, and sheep), a natural supply of water, and at least 10 percent of acreage devoted to the native flora and fauna. The idea is to attract wildlife in order to control harmful pests (from caterpillars to rats) naturally.
To complement composting, farmers make fertilizer-type formulas using homeopathic quantities of specific herbs such as yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, and dandelion, combined with ground-up silicarich quartz and cow manure. These mixtures are applied directly to the crop or added to the compost pile, depending on the lunar cycle, the season, and the moisture content in the air.
The Biodynamic method is an increasingly popular trend in winemaking. The notes and characteristics of wine that are affected by soil, region, and environment—called terroir—are much more concentrated in a Biodynamic setting.
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The Demeter Association offers a list of U.S. farms certified Biodynamic at biodynamics.com/csa.html. —Mark Beaman, assistant winemaker at Parducci Winery, a certified Biodynamic processor, in Mendocino County, Calif.
Vineyard image via Shutterstock