In honor of Christopher Mann's lifelong dedication to the work of Rudolf Steiner and the growth of the biodynamic movement, the Biodynamic Association (BDA) has established the Christopher Mann Biodynamic Scholarship Fund with a generous $25,000 lead gift from Stacy Peterson, CEO of ConnOils, LLC in Waukesha, Wisconsin. This fund will provide financial support to farmers and others who want to better understand biodynamic agriculture and strengthen their ability to practice biodynamics through hands-on training, national and regional workshops and conferences, and online courses and webinars.
Christopher Mann was born in London in 1930 to pioneer teachers of the first English-speaking Waldorf school. In the early 1980s, Christopher and his wife Martina purchased their first parcel of agricultural land in the United States and created a community farm. They also founded the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) in East Troy, Wisconsin and served on its Board of Trustees for many years. MFAI has played a key role in the training of organic and biodynamic farmers, as well as in research into organic and biodynamic methods.
Throughout his lifetime, Christopher has developed enterprises and land trusts to support biodynamic, organic, and sustainable agriculture, along with research and education. Of these, the Yggdrasil Land Foundation was founded as a support organization to RSF Social Finance, the BDA, and MFAI.
As Stacy Peterson explained, she became passionate about biodynamics after being introduced to Christopher, who was “a tremendous inspiration to us.” Supporting this scholarship fund seemed like a natural fit, she said. ConnOils, a global manufacturer and distributor of nutritional products for the wholesale industry, is actively seeking to establish relationships with Biodynamic® and organic farmers to build its Abby Christopher brand. Michelle Coluccio, Supply Chain and Business Development Manager, stressed the great lengths to which ConnOils has gone “to educate ourselves about different products and processes — in this case agriculture — and what an inspiring journey that is.” Both Stacy and Michelle emphasized how much they have learned through Christopher, as well as the Individuality of the Farm intensive distance learning course with Cory Eichman offered online by the BDA. “The concepts of biodynamics are so intriguing, and have such tremendous potential to save the soil, to save the planet,” said Stacy. Supporting scholarships allows ConnOils to “pay forward” the education and inspiration from which they’ve benefited. “I know what it’s like to have the drive to be entrepreneurial, but not have the financial standing to do it,” said Stacy. “All you need is someone to give you a little chance and believe in you, and you can make big things with it.”
Steffen Schneider, former BDA President and Director of Farming Operations at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, New York, expressed that he was “eternally grateful” for Christopher and Martina’s “generosity, initiative and vision,” which launched his farming career in 1983. Steffen continued that “I would consider Christopher’s greatest legacy in the biodynamic field his early recognition of the fundamental importance of land security for agriculture, freeing the land from being commoditized. To that end, he founded Yggdrasil Land Foundation, which now holds land in trust for sustainable and biodynamic farming initiatives. Thank you, Christopher, for that wonderful foundation and model to build on.”
"Since 2010, we have been able to help more than 130 farmers, gardeners, and others access high-quality education and deepen their understanding and practice of biodynamics through the scholarships that we have offered," stated Thea Maria Carlson, Executive Director of the Biodynamic Association. "We are grateful that the new Christopher Mann Biodynamic Scholarship Fund will allow us to amplify and build on this work to forge a strong future for biodynamic farming and gardening in North America."
Farmers, aspiring farmers and others who want to learn about and develop their skills in biodynamics, but lack the financial resources to participate in the educational opportunities they wish to pursue, can apply to the Christopher Mann Biodynamic Scholarship Fund at www.biodynamics.com/scholarship-fund.
If you would like to discuss a gift or bequest to this fund, please contact Karisa Centanni at firstname.lastname@example.org or (262) 649-9212 x11.