Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year
Get to know biodynamics from the inside out
Our 2020-2021 cohort will run from April 2020 through April 2021
Our priority application period is now open through Thursday January 16th. We strongly encourage you to apply by this date.
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 or garden you manage.
Work with a cohesive learning curriculum of short readings, experiential exercises, observational studies, and lively conversation spaces.
This new program builds upon our North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program (NABDAP), which began in 2009 and has graduated 51 new biodynamic farmers to date.
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 way to bring health and healing to agriculture 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
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.
Build new capacities to relate.
Observational studies with Soil and Compost, Plants, Animals, Biodynamics, Astronomy, and Organization/Community/Social work develop capacities to observe and participate in the unfolding of living processes over time. Guidelines along with prompts and questions throughout the year support the growth of an in-depth relationship with each area and the revelation of their myriad interconnections. Approach each phenomena from a variety of views including the technical, materialistic scientific and personal experience through individual, group, and community research, deeper questioning, and working with suble, non-sense perceptible layers of activity to understand their living qualities and how to guide them towards health through the integration of scientific, farm-based research, inner exercises, and artistic activities.
- Soil and Compost: Garden Soil, Pasture Soil, Compost
- Plants: Preparation/Medicinal Plants Yarrow, Chamomile, and your choice of any other plant - growing them from seed to seed
- Animals: Cows, Pig/Sheep/Goat/Horse, and your choice
- Biodynamics: Horn Manure (500), Horn Silica (501), and your choice of a mineral, chemical, or biological spray
- Astronomy: Sun and Moon Rhythms
- Organization/Community/Social: A look at your farm or garden, one of a similar scope and size, and one that is a significantly different size and scope.
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), 52 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, visiting other local farms, on-going support from the Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year Organizers, and a Seed Sower 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.