Biodynamic farming, a “beyond organic” approach to agriculture long respected in Europe, may finally be poised for a breakthrough in the U.S..
It has growing cachet in the wine industry, where biodynamic wines earn both high scores and high price points.
Prince Charles speaks of its ecological, spiritual, and cultural importance. And the unimpeachably mainstream Today show recently aired a segment by Maria Shriver touting biodynamic produce’s flavor and benefits to health and soil quality.
With its emphasis on approaching the farm as an integrated living organism and the farmer as a deeply knowledgeable orchestrator, biodynamics is a natural path to regenerative agriculture—a real corrective to the negative effects of our dominant food system.
The regenerative agriculture trend was first documented in the 2002 book, The Restoration Economy. Its chapter on what was then called “restorative agriculture” described how regenerative farming leaves more and healthier topsoil after each harvest (current industrial agriculture practices deplete topsoil). It also described how regenerative techniques restore native pollinators, making crops less dependent on industrialized European honeybees.
But realizing the potential of biodynamic farming in particular—and regenerative agriculture in general—will require an investment strategy that is also regenerative.
The industrialized agriculture system we have today—including industrialized organic agriculture—grew out of a particular capital approach: extractive, impatient, and designed to maximize profit rather than value for the community.
We’re not going to create a different kind of agriculture with the same kind of capital.
Industrial agricultural has seriously depleted our soils, reducing both the vitality of their produce and their ability to store carbon—just when we need that ability most. Recent research shows organic farms have significantly better potential to store carbon because they have ample humus, a nutrient-rich soil component. Biodynamic farming creates humus in spades (doing so is a crucial part of the practice), leading to optimal soil health.
Biodynamic farmers build rich soil using integrated livestock, cover crops, farm-generated compost, and crop rotation. Biologically diverse habitat controls pests and disease.
I believe we can scale biodynamics faster through regenerative investments that follow the integrated capital approach: the coordinated use of diverse financing tools—including loans, loan guarantees, investments, and grants—along with network connections and advisory support.
To test that alignment, RSF recently launched the Biodynamics Capital Collaborative, an integrated capital fund launched with gift money and designed to support ventures that have the potential to both build consumer demand and demonstrate the value of certification.
The Biodynamics Capital Collaborative supports the biodynamic movement in North America, which is working toward a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food and nutrition. We’re seeking donors who wish to support a community that’s playing a vital role in transforming the health of the American food system—a community poised for more growth as the market looks beyond organics.
With gift money, RSF can provide different forms of capital—loans, grants, and investments—to farmers, food hubs and food businesses working to meet the growing demand for biodynamic products. We also support non-profit organizations and farm-related businesses looking to grow the biodynamic movement and regenerate regional economies.
RSF Social Finance seeks to revolutionize how people relate to money. They are a financial services organization that has formed a growing community of motivated, values-driven investors, donors and entrepreneurs. Together, we believe that direct, transparent and personal relationships are essential to healing the economy, one that is based on generosity and interconnectedness.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock