Can you start by describing the history of the Impulso Biodinámico de México and how the organization fits into the story of the biodynamic movement in Mexico more broadly?
Since 2000, biodynamics in Mexico has had a tradition of classes, workshops, and diploma courses in various parts of the country that have been facilitated by pioneering teachers from Mexico and around the world. The initial momentum that gave birth to biodynamic conferences in Mexico grew thanks to a group of young people who shared their enthusiasm and commitment when they returned from the 2013 Latin American Biodynamic Conference in Peru.
Before then, there were pockets of biodynamic development in different parts of the country; however, there still wasn’t an organized community. The energy of these young people showed it was time to promote cohesion and collaboration between pioneers, students, and apprentices so that biodynamics would take a more structured course in Mexico. In parallel, the need arose to tackle biodynamics from a social point of view and, therefore, create a point of convergence for the different manifestations of biodynamic agriculture in the country.
The collective work of individuals and organizations that began in 2013-2014 started what would become the first Biodynamic Conference of Mexico. At the same time, the participants understood the importance of following up and continuing these conferences, so they decided to rotate the location of the next conferences to learn about other projects and allow the biodynamic community in Mexico to grow organically.
One of the first biodynamic farms in the world was the Finca Irlanda, founded in Tapachula, in the Mexican state of Chiapas, in 1928 by the Peters family. This farm, like ten other pioneering organizations at the national level, has united the movement, supported, participated, and collaborated in various workshops and conferences in Mexico and around the world, helping found a biodynamic association that represents Mexico in the world.
This is how, in 2018, the Impulso Biodinámico de México was born. The association supports the development of biodynamic agriculture in Mexico, intending to be the point of convergence for people and initiatives who feel called to heal the earth. This work requires much will and strength, as it is a huge task to bring balance to land devastated by improper agricultural use. Our mission is to recognize that this land sustains us and is our source of nutrition and connection with the spiritual world.
I think this account of the history of biodynamics is interesting: demeter.es/historia-de-la-certificacion-demeter-biodinamica/
How does the biodynamic movement in Mexico differ from similar movements in the United States or Europe?
The history of the biodynamic movement in the United States of America has a long trajectory, like the development of anthroposophy. The culture of the United States is of Anglo-Saxon origin; in Mexico, it is primarily Latino, and hardly anything is known about biodynamics or anthroposophy. Some pioneering individuals have spread the essence of the movement; however, it wasn’t always done with accuracy. Anthroposophy is starting to be recognized and associated with the development of Waldorf schools, but on the agricultural side, there is less development.
The biodynamic community in Mexico comprises certified producers and biodynamic projects that emerged in the 1990s and have hosted various courses and trainings in recent years. There is also the Formadores de Futuro, a group of people close to the movement committed to developing tools for giving introductory courses to different interested groups.
The people who make up the group of Formadores now head different commissions of the Impulso Biodinámico de México and are interested in deepening various topics, voluntarily giving their skills and knowledge to the movement with much dedication. The biodynamic community in our country is still small, but efforts are being made to grow regional cells through local projects in different areas, creating more links and interest in the movement.
Can you talk a little about farming practices specific to Mexico and how biodynamic methods can be incorporated?
With regard to vegetable gardens, crop rotation is practiced, and this is a good moment to incorporate biodynamic preparations such as barrel compost.
In Mexico, we have tropical soil with a faster metabolism than the soil of temperate climates. We have a humid summer and a dry winter, which also leads to different farming practices. The crops that we mostly attend to are coffee, agave, medicinal plants, grapevines, and olive trees, and each crop has its own requirements and processes. To accompany the work of fertilizing annual plants like coffee, avocados, or grapevines, we use preparation 500, and to encourage maturation, we use preparation 501.
Many farms prepare their own compost, including the other biodynamic preparations and barrel compost.
What kind of crops are farmers typically growing, and what regions of Mexico are they working in?
Farmers in Mexico maintain the tradition of sowing corn in the milpa system alongside beans and squash once or twice a year, depending on the region. They also grow wheat and other grains depending on consumption in certain areas. Some farmers focus on alfalfa for animal feed. Very few of these crops are guided by biodynamic practices. Coffee and cacao occupy a more significant place in the organic and biodynamic crops produced in the country.
The most popular crops, or better said, the crops consumed in the Mexican diet, are tomatoes, chiles, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, and green vegetables. Citrus fruits, berries, avocados, guavas, apples, and pomegranates are popular, with coconuts, papayas, and pineapples, for example, appearing in the coastal zones.
Our intention is to support small producers and direct them toward biodynamic practices since they supply the basic diet of all Mexican people. Certified farms can be found in Veracruz, Michoacán, Oaxaca, and Chiapas. Other smaller biodynamic farms can be found in regions like Estate de México, Baja California Sur, Nayarit, Quintana Roo, Hildago, Michoacán, Guanajuato, and Morelos.
I know that agriculture has historically been an essential part of Mexican culture and society, but forces such as modernization, urbanization, and the implementation of policies like NAFTA have changed traditional farming practices and affected the Mexican diet. Do you see biodynamic agriculture as a tool for renewing traditional foodways and helping restore Mexico’s food sovereignty?
We had a recent experience where we organized an introductory biodynamic course with one of the biggest farming cooperatives in Mexico, a network called Tosepan. The course took place near Cuetzalan, Puebla, an agricultural region with traditions deeply rooted in indigenous Nahuatl and Totonac villages.
More than forty people living in the countryside attended, interested in the Impulso’s message. It was a wonderful experience to find openness with the participants and an organic understanding of their daily rhythms and processes. It was a very inspiring experience for the Impulso to remember that there is a profound connection, reverence, and intuition that wants to spring up again among rural Mexican farmers.
In the same way, we are working to make the essence of biodynamics known, which makes us reflect on a healthy, sustainable diet. However, not everyone wants to listen. It is a slow process.
Are there young Mexican farmers who are taking an interest in learning to farm?
The global phenomenon of populations moving to cities is also happening in Mexico. Every year, the number of people dedicated to agriculture is reducing, and large agricultural companies cannot find a new generation of young people who want to continue agrarian work.
All this added to the fact that income derived from farming isn’t sufficient to provide for families, means that many young people decide to migrate or look for their future in other activities that can translate into a better quality of life. People drawn to agriculture now are young people interested in ecology, healthy and local food, and some parents who want to have a life closer to the countryside.
What is the Impulso Biodinámico de México looking forward to in the future?
We are looking forward to continuing the activities that the association currently offers: annual courses in different parts of the country, seasonal workshops, informative talks to spread knowledge of biodynamics, regional workshops in beekeeping, support for school gardens, the online study of agriculture, and study groups for anthroposophy and biodynamics.
We are looking for support in the areas of beekeeping and composting specific to tropical zones, viticulture, holistic animal management, coffee growing, and raising dairy cows.
Since 2021, we have participated in the program Formadores del Futuro, calling on fourteen individuals committed to the movement to form a group that can respond to the needs of Mexico’s biodynamic projects in the near future. This year, 2023, we want to continue disseminating information and join efforts so that biodynamics reaches more places. To accomplish this, we have formed new commissions to give attention to current issues in the movement. They are:
-Advice, Certification, and Consulting
-Social and Work Events
-Training and Qualification
-Research and Development
-Circulation and Promotion
-Economy and Fundraising
-Representation and International Projection
We would also like to highlight that we have begun our first research project, supported by a grant from the International Demeter Foundation. The name of the project is “Deeping Qualitative Morphogenetic Methods,” such as the so-called chromatographies and cupric crystallizations. The project studies the characteristics of the soils of biodynamic farms in different regions of the country, learning to perceive the quality of food through the manifestation of its vital forces. Biodynamic preparations, composts, and some dehydrated vegetables are also analyzed. Our primary objective is to develop the perceptual abilities of the team of trainers, form a base of images of the selected samples, and build teaching material for future biodynamic agriculture courses.
Vincent Geerts is a biodynamic farmer and beekeeper. Belgian by origin and Mexican by adoption, he has studied anthroposophy since 1990. He is a lecturer and advisor on Goetheanism, biodynamic agriculture and beekeeping, architecture, and ecology. He is a founding member of the anthroposophical initiative “Las Canoas Altas” in Erongaricuaro, Michoacán, as well as a founding member and current vice president of the Impulso Biodinámico de México AC.
Sara González is an engineer with a Master of Science degree and experience in teaching, social welfare, and organizational management. In 2013, she learned about Waldorf pedagogy and biodynamic agriculture. As a teacher, she closely follows the educational activities around the garden and farm. She worked as a social welfare advisor in Soconusco, Chiapas, on a biodynamic coffee plantation, where she dedicated herself to improving the quality of life of the community’s families through education and the revaluation of agricultural work. She currently collaborates with Impulso Biodinamico de México in coordinating and linking with the association’s members and developing an advisory model with a social focus to emphasize transparency and ethics in organic and biodynamic projects.
Kaysha Korrow is the managing editor of LILIPOH magazine. She splits her time between Seattle and Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she studies Spanish and Argentinian literature.