Demeter International Certification workshop 2017

Demeter International Certification workshop 2017
Emerson College, Sussex, England

It was a great pleasure to welcome the Demeter-International Certification workshop in September to Emerson College in south of England. We were blessed by both typical English rain as well as early autumn sunshine. Emerson has a long tradition with Biodynamics, with Dr Herbert Koepf being the head of the School of Biodynamics and Earth Sciences the 1970s.

The aim of the workshop was for certifiers from the length and breadth of the Demeter Movement to meet and share their practical application of the Demeter Standards. This year we were 25 participants, mostly from Europe. This was further stretched with Jim Fulmer coming from the West Coast of the USA and Krishnan Venkataraman from India.

Some of the topics that were covered in the programme were:

§ Importing into the US market.
§ Requirement for Demeter products to use 100% Demeter ingredients where possible
§ Input approval
§ Labelling and recipe approval
§ Definition of a farm
§ Need of Animals on the farm

As could be seen, there were variations in how the standards were being interpreted locally. But all
stayed true to the commonly agreed DI Standards.

There were several outcomes, such as the creation of a task force for exporting to the US, the resolve to use Demeter ingredients where available, a decision about the responsibility for labels with several addresses and an enthusiasm to continue with the Demeter ‘buddy’ scheme.

Working in smaller groups was also very much appreciated, as it gave the chance for more people to ‘have a voice’. A major topic that is often coming up is the need for animals on a Demeter certified farm. Despite a lively discussion there was no resolution, but a better overview was attained of how each country works with it.

The Partnership Evaluation is a means to help support Demeter development in each country through visits from an expert from another country. The new round of visits for 2018 is well into its planning with many appointments already having been firmed up.

The contributions from the certifiers inspires the work of the AC to strengthen the common understanding of Demeter standards and also to respect the national needs. The AC will be able to take the fruitful work up in its motions for the Demeter-International Members Assembly.

Opportunities were given on both days for guided tours of Emerson campus and nearby Tablehurst Farm. The rich history of Emerson was spoken about by Steve Briault, and David Junghans showed us some aspects of the Tablehurst site. There we could see how they were using innovative farming methods to improve the soil cultivation through minimum till. Briony Young is in charge of making the Biodynamic preparations both for Tablehurst as well as contributing to the UK supply sold to the farmers and gardeners by the Biodynamic Association. She spoke passionately about her work with the preparations in both the UK and India.

Richard Swann and Reto Ingold

(Reprinted from the October 2017 edition of Biodynamics in the World.)