Agriculture is not natural to start with. We need it, our communities need it, and our world needs it. There are many different ways to do it. Different forms of agriculture include monoculture, polyculture and permaculture. Farming practices include conventional, organic and Biodynamic®.
Industrial and large-scale agriculture most often show up as monoculture (one crop fills all the cleared land). Can that kind of cutting away, and putting in a monoculture, be a good thing? Does the story start to change when some biodiversity is part of, or is added to a one-crop farm? What about when there’s a monoculture next to monoculture, and so on? Who and what exactly are supported by that set of dominos?
From a conversation at Demetria Winery came an interesting way to play with some farming terms. The goal of conventional farming was described as getting the crop to the supermarket shelf as quickly as possible. Here are some topics to chew on which will hopefully make some distinctions between these farming practices:
-Conventional farming as… antibiotics
-Organic farming as… vitamins
-Biodynamic farming as… yoga
I like this analogy a lot, and here’s what I’m thinking:
Conventional, and sometimes organic farming too, often require lots of inputs (both synthetic and organic) from outside the farm to support what they do inside the farm. Whether using those inputs stresses the outside environment or not, minimizing the off the farm pull of resources for what’s required on the farm, is a very important piece for a sustainable approach that too frequently gets left out.
Biodynamic® farming says, “Focus on the assets of the farm. Listen and observe the land. Become aware of the assets of that particular place.” As you do that, you become part of the assets of the farm, and that’s what you cultivate. In working and developing these assets, you build the immune system of that “living organism” and the need for outside inputs lessen over time. The farm becomes a self-regulating organism that works in harmony with what’s around it, as opposed to taking from it.
Biodiversity, soil health, and having that land (and its surroundings) available in a healthful way for future generations is at the top of the priority list when we look for ConsciousWineries. Biodynamic® farming does a great job of supporting this, and it’s often embraced by small family farms.
A fun buying wine tip of mine is: if you’ve never heard of it, buy it (that’s for the first time discovery of a wine, not once you find something you love). Even buy the ugly duckling label. A nice label can be attractive, and so are labels I can find from coast to coast in a dozen box stores, but I prefer the heart and soul of the small farmer and sustainable practices being intact, alive and well in the products I buy.
So where has this led ConsciousWine? To including: biodiversity, family farming and regenerative farming into the 12 Practices of ConsciousWine. To an approach of vetting wineries for “The List,” that’s based on our 4 Principles and 12 Practices.
Now that’s a lot to chew on! What do you think? Let us know!