Demeter and the Biodynamic Movement mourn a pioneer

After a fulfilling life involved with the German and international organic agricultural movement in various responsible positions, the organic pioneer Jan Freiherr von Ledebur died on 23 December 2016 at the age of 85. The German Demeter board spokesman Alexander Gerber honoured the co-founder and long-standing chairman of the German working group for organic farming (AGÖL) as an important driving force for sustainable agriculture. "Jan von Ledebur has contributed significantly to the success of organic farming thanks to his ability to bring together agricultural stakeholders and from discussions with them to initiate important developments" Following an agricultural apprenticeship, Jan Freiherr von Ledebur managed the parental estate Crollage in Westphalia, which he converted to Biodynamic management. In doing so, he provided important pioneering insights in the Demeter fruit industry. Subsequently, he studied agricultural sciences in Göttingen and Berlin. After his studies he became the Managing Director of the Research Circle for Biodynamic Agriculture in Darmstadt in 1983. He also worked internationally and provided important impulses on all continents during his time on the board of the global umbrella organisation for organics, IFOAM. In 1988, he was not only one of the founders of the Organic Farming Work-Group (AGÖL), but was its chairman until 2000 and hence an influential leader of this first umbrella organisation of German organic farming associations. Dr. Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein, chairman of the successor federation BÖLW, founded in 2002, honoured the role of the Jan von Ledebur in the design of the European organic legislation: "Under the chairmanship of Freiherr von Ledebur, AGÖL contributed significantly to the EU organic regulation and thus to the first legal framework defining organic farming and organic food processing throughout the EU.”

His merits were honoured with the Professor Niklas Medal in Silver, the first representative of organic farming to gain this recognition. It is the highest award of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs, which emphasised above all Ledebur’s integrating ability. The magazine ‘Capital’ and the WWF, awarded Ledebur the Eco-Manager of the Year in 1999. In the 1990s, Jan von Ledebur was a member of the International Certification Office where he took on the Demeter inspections in Hungary among other things, and gave important impulses for the Biodynamic work in the region. He was also very active between 1990 and 1996 during the international Demeter meetings in Järna / Sweden, which led to the founding of Demeter-International and the harmonisation of standards at an international level. With the passing of Jan Freiherr von Ledebur, Demeter and the entire organic movement lose a significant representative who has devoted his life to Biodynamic agriculture as an example of practical anthroposophy, to the collaboration of organic farming associations and to political lobbying. "His role model is an incentive for us to work for a future-oriented agriculture and nutrition!" emphasises Demeter's CEO, Alexander Gerber, and BÖLW Chairman of the Board, Felix Prinz, zu Löwenstein.