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July 3, 2023

Demeter International’s Ecological Thinking

Ecological thinking, or understanding ourselves as part of nature, means that we recognize how human activity impacts ecosystems. This nonlinear, cause-and-effect perspective acknowledges that we are connected to the larger whole and not sequential points along a line. As a main principle of the Ubuntuworks Project, ecological thinking increases our awareness of shared interactions rather than individual efforts and supports the natural process of give and take.

The Ubuntuworks Resource Hub provides organizations and individuals with data, stories, studies and support for a more connected and compassionate world.


“Demeter Association, Inc. is the United States’ representative of Demeter International. We are a not-for-profit incorporated in 1985 with the mission to enable people to farm successfully, in accordance with Biodynamic® practices and principles. Demeter’s vision is to heal the planet through agriculture.”

Healing the planet through agriculture

Excerpt from Demeter Association, Inc.

“…paralleling the developments in mass production in other industries, farms began to model factories. The identification of nitrogen as critical to plant growth led to the manufacture of synthetic fertilizers. Chemicals–nerve gas–developed for use in WW I gave rise to synthetic pesticides.  Antibiotics were discovered. Raising farm animals indoors under conditions of extremely restricted mobility became the norm.

Eventually the farms began to suffer, and farmers noted that the vitality of their food crops and farm animals was perceptively declining. Long-term fertility, seed quality and disease resistance were impacted. So this growing circle of central European farmers asked Rudolf Steiner for his insights.

In response to these concerns, Steiner presented a series of lectures that he referred to as ‘The Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture.’ He suggested that farms should be thought of as living organisms, not factories: self-contained and self-sustaining, responsible for creating and maintaining their own individual health and vitality.  He talked about the connection between healthy farms and healthy food, suggesting that food no longer contained the essential energy needed to enable humans to realize their full potential.

Steiner was one of the first public figures to question the long-term benefits of the manufacturing view of agriculture and to warn of its environmentally destructive practices.

In 1927, following Steiner’s lectures, a co-operative was formed to market Biodynamic produce, and in 1928 the Demeter symbol and first Standard was introduced to ensure that the farming methods were uniformly followed and monitored. By 1931, there were approximately 1,000 Biodynamic farms. 

The Farm Standard is historically significant because it dates back to the beginning of the modern sustainable agriculture movement and captures key agronomic principles not comprehensively addressed within any other agriculture certification system.

In 1985 Demeter was formed in the US as a non-profit, seventeen years before the USDA established the National Organic Program (NOP). Demeter International is the first, and remains, the only ecological association consisting of a network of individual certification organizations in 45 countries around the world.”

Demeter offers resources and education on topics related to Biodynamic agriculture, farms, and products, including farmer profiles, a Biodynamic Farm and Product Directory, Biodynamic Certification, training programs, and more. To learn more, visit https://www.demeter-usa.org

Photo: Ivan Bandura 

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