Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year
Informational Webinar Recording
For an overview of the Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year and a walk-through of the application process, we have recorded a webinar with a question and answer session. Watch the recording here. (link is external)
Since 2009, over 100 aspiring biodynamic farmers have participated in our North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program (NABDAP), learning side-by-side with exemplary biodynamic mentor farmers across the continent. We have celebrated the graduation of 37 new biodynamic farmers, and 12 more are on track to graduate this year. Just as each farm individuality needs to grow and evolve over time, so does our work to train the next generation of farmers.
Building on the strengths and accomplishments of NABDAP, we are delighted to introduce two new intensive one-year programs that provide more flexibility, as well as a solid and broad foundation in all of the essentials of biodynamic farming for everyone who participates. Individuals will have the option to participate in just the first year, or both.
For both programs, we are inviting established farmers who want training in biodynamics to participate as well continuing to offer apprenticeship opportunities on exemplary mentor farms.
The Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year offers aspiring biodynamic farmers the opportunity to build a solid foundation in the principles and practices of biodynamic agriculture. Individual support from an experienced mentor farmer and a cohesive, integrated, and interactive learning curriculum bring biodynamics to life. The first cohort of this program began in 2018, and applications are now open for the second cohort.
The Biodynamic Farmer Development Year, which will begin in 2019, will develop and deepen the skills needed for biodynamic farm management for those who graduate from the foundation year. This program will allow for specialization in specific farm management and production areas.
Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year
Get to know biodynamics from the inside out
Our initial learning cohort runs from early March 2018 through late March 2019.
The Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year is a hands-on, holistic approach to farmer education.
Delve deeply into the practice of biodynamics with individualized support from an experienced biodynamic mentor farmer.
Apprentice on an established biodynamic mentor farm or implement biodynamics on the farm you manage.
Work with a cohesive learning curriculum of short readings, experiential exercises, and lively conversation spaces.
This new program builds upon our North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program (NABDAP), which began in 2009 and has graduated 37 new biodynamic farmers to date.
We are accepting applications for the Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year 2019 - 2020 Cohort through November 30th.If you have questions about the program or application please contact Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail) or 262.649.9212 x14
Biodynamics is a holistic, coevolutionary, earth-friendly practice and way of being that creates abundant health for soil, plants, animals, people, and planet. Each unique and self-sustaining farm organism contributes generously to the ecological, economic, social, and spiritual vitality of its surrounding community and landscape, and the whole living earth. Through biodynamics, we can access new capacities in human creativity to sense and respond to the needs of the planet, and unfold new solutions in a living and dynamic way. Biodynamics is both a regenerative agricultural system and a potent movement for new thinking and practices in all aspects of life connected to food and agriculture.
The principles and practices of biodynamics can be applied anywhere, with thoughtful adaptation to scale, landscape, climate, and culture. Learn more about Biodynamics Principles and Practices.
Learn the Foundations of Biodynamics Through Experience
Work with Dedicated Biodynamic Farmer Mentors
More Mentor Farmers will be added weekly, keep checking back!
Get mentoring on your already established farm
If you are an already established farmer looking for a mentor, please contact Anthony Mecca (link sends e-mail), Farmer Training Coordinator. We have mentors across North America and can help you find the right match as close as possible to your existing farm.
Engage with real-life examples that help you get to know the foundations of biodynamics.
Foundations of Biodynamics Learning Curriculum provided by EduCareDo. (link is external)
26 bi-weekly lessons with readings, experiential exercises, and artistic activities bring to life the path of knowledge that stands behinds biodynamics. A scientific understanding of the world is integrated with the recognition of the spirit in nature and humanity.
The lessons weave together the breadth and depth of the insights of Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy, which laid the foundation for biodynamics in 1924. The curriculum works to foster greater consciousness of our role as human beings in the life of the earth.
Participate in learning and community building sessions around the themes and questions that are important to you.
Facilitated learning and community building sessions with your cohort offer an ongoing community space to ask questions and share experiences from the curriculum, your daily work and life on the farm, and ‘the bigger questions’ of life in a supportive learning group.
Work together with an experienced biodynamic farmer mentor.
Monthly individual meetings with your mentor farmer provide a space to ask questions, talk about your progress, and help you plan your next steps in the program. Our mentor farmers are carefully selected to ensure that they exemplify good biodynamic farming practice and are dedicated to providing a quality educational experience for trainees.
Develop a diversity of relevant biodynamic farming skills.
Our Foundations of Biodynamics On-farm Skills Development Guide provides support to learn and strengthen over 30 skills and capacities in biodynamic farming through a variety of learning situations as you progress through the year in the following categories:
Soil care and plant cultivation
Working with the biodynamic preparations
Organizational and social health
Deepen your everyday experiences on the farm.
Supportive daily journaling sessions help you develop the practice of observing and recording weather and farm conditions, and reflecting on successes and challenges you experience. This serves as a valuable record of your time spent on the farm and a beautiful picture of the cycle of that year to refer to in your future seasons of farming.
Complete an independent project on a topic that’s important to you.
Design and implement an independent project to explore a burning question related to biodynamics, such as:
developing an on-farm education program
creating a hat from wool you’ve shorn, cleaned, carded, dyed, spun, and knit
working with the relationship between hedgerows and pollinators
artistic projects involving drawing, painting, or sculpting plants, insects, and animals
explorations to get to know the preparations such as looking at different ways of making and applying them.
Work together with your mentor farmer and the program organizers to utilize the resources at hand and make a positive impact on the future of the farm.
Get to know other farms and the local community.
Visit at least 6 other local farms to see other approaches to farming, meet other farmers, and broaden your on-farm experience.
Attend a biodynamic workshop or event.
Connect with biodynamic educators and practitioners through our partner organizations including the Pfeiffer Center (link is external) (Chesnut Ridge, NY), the Nature Institute (link is external) (Ghent, NY), Institute for Mindful Agriculture (link is external) (Ghent, NY), Rudolf Steiner College (link is external) (Fair Oaks, CA), The Josephine Porter Institute (link is external) (Floyd, VA), Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary (link is external) (Floyd, VA), Sustainable Settings (link is external) (Carbondale, CO), Michael Fields Agriculture Institute (link is external) (East Troy, WI), Angelic Organics Learning Center (link is external) (Caledonia, IL), and Foxhollow Farm (link is external) (Crestwood, KY).
Meet up with your cohort and experience the North American biodynamic community.
Meet up at the North American Biodynamic Conference with fellow participants midway through your foundation year journey. Attend a pre-conference day just for Foundation Year participants to deepen your relationships you have been growing, and enjoy the rest of the wonderful offerings at the North American Biodynamic Conference!
Join the next generation of biodynamic farmers!
Our Educational Principles
Every situation and every being has something to offer and something to teach. We strive to have open and honest conversations, and challenge our views and opinions.
We are all students, and work to help each other learn and grow.
Each person is recognized as a whole human being. Our thinking, feeling, and willing are engaged fully through our heads, hearts, and hands.
Dialogue and direct experience are primary learning tools.
A diversity of questions, perspectives, and abilities are welcomed. Our complex individual lives are honored and respected. We work to harness the potential of diversity and integrate it into a cohesive whole.
The human being has a rich inner life as well as an outer life, and the health of this inner life is intimately connected to the progression and health of our communities, culture, and societal systems.
Active engagement, self-awareness, and the respect of the freedom of each individual are core responsibilities of all participants.
Tuition for this one-year intensive program is $2,400. Tuition includes individualized mentoring from one of our carefully selected mentor farmers, the Foundations of Biodynamics learning curriculum and support from a tutor provided by EduCareDo (link is external), 26 learning and commnity building conversation sessions with your cohort, the Foundations of Biodynamics on-farm skills development guide, guidance in journaling, completing an independent project, and visiting other local farms, on-going support from the Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year Organizers, and a full membership in the Biodynamic Association for a year. Participants receive a certificate of achievement at the end of the program.
Trainees are responsible for their own housing, food, and transportation, although many of our mentor farmers offer room, board, and/or a stipend to apprentices during their time on the farm. Registration fees for workshops outside of the Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year and in the North American Biodynamic Conference are not included in tuition, but scholarships are available through the Biodynamic Scholarship Fund.