A Healing Agriculture: Human Beings, Technology, and the Life of the Earth

July 29 - August 2, 2024

Offered by the Biodynamic Association in partnership with EduCareDo (link is external), Sun Heart Farm (link is external), Hawthorne Valley Farm (link is external), Camphill Village Copake (link is external), and Churchtown Dairy (link is external)

Hawthorne Valley Farm

Deepen your understanding of biodynamic agriculture

Over 3+ days working together we will explore the human being’s unique role in creating a healing agriculture in a context that is increasingly dominated by mechanical and digital technology. Biodynamics focuses on fostering healthy relationships in all aspects of our lives; with the natural world, within social life, and with ourselves. By developing our capacities to perceive and serve the life of the earth and humanity, we may help create and use ‘moral’ technologies with a potential to heal. 

Through presentations, conversation, exercises, artistic activities, practical work, and farm visits, we will strive to more fully know, experience, and participate co-creatively in agriculture. New approaches from biodynamic agriculture will be offered to help us bring forward the gifts of our plant, animal, soil, and human communities towards creating a nourishing and healthy community of life.

This course is designed for anyone participating in or interested in deepening their relationship to and understanding of agriculture: farmers, gardeners, and homesteaders, teachers, food system and non-profit workers, activists, parents, caregivers, community members, and eaters. The richness and diversity of views and experience can create a lively interplay that we encourage in our learning environments. No prior experience is needed, just an openness and willingness to engage together.

Throughout the days there will be ample social time to enjoy and get to know each other. Three simple organic and biodynamic daily meals and snacks will be provided and are included in the course tuition.

Accommodations and travel are the responsibility of each participant; we can help with housing, including on-site camping, and travel options – please contact

Presenters include Anthony Mecca, Spencer Fenniman, Jess Brobst, Todd Newlin, Steffen Schneider, Jean-David Derremeaux, Lia Babitch, Marc Blachere, and Sam Mirkin. (See photos and bios below.)

Churchtown Dairy (photo by Broken Banjo Photography)

Schedule Overview

Our home base will be Sun Heart Farm in Stephentown, NY.

We will gather together for introductions and initial sharings the evening of Monday July 29.

During our three full days together, Tuesday through Thursday July 30, 31, and August 1, each morning will focus on presentations, exercises, and conversation. We will then work with artistic experience to further explore and integrate the classroom experiences. We will share lunch and social time together. We will then visit a different farm each afternoon, speaking with the farmers about their experiences and questions working with biodynamics, seeing different types and sizes of farms and farming activities, and tasting some of what they have to offer:

After traveling back to Sun Heart Farm, we will enjoy dinner together.

There will be different evening activities that welcome in the broader community, and may include working with the night sky.

The morning of Friday August 2 we will weave together our work and share reflections and next steps.

See the full schedule here.



Lia Babitch grew up in Camphill Village Kimberton Hills, and, after attending college and the Foundation Year in Anthroposophy at Emerson College in England, completed her biodynamic apprenticeship with the Severn Valley Biodynamic Land Training group. She came to Turtle Tree Seed at Camphill Village in 2009, and has been managing the seed garden and co-managing the business of Turtle Tree Seed ever since. She has presented at such venues as the Northeast Organic Seed Conference at NOFA-NY and the Seed Sovereignty Day presented by NOFA-Mass, as well as seed starting, saving, and growing workshops given at Turtle Tree Biodynamic Seed Initiative.
Marc Blachere completed training in curative education in Camphill Perceval, Switzerland, before moving to Camphill Village in Copake, New York. He has worked as a teacher, farmer, bookbinder, homemaker, and a gardener. For the past 14 years, he has been the head gardener of the Healing Plant Gardem in Copake. During these years the focus of his activity has been on biodynamic research and training and soil management. He is a mentor gardener for the BDA's farmer training program and has a particular interest in forming spaces of encounter between human and nature. In this context, he has taught and served as a consultant in Vietnam. He has been on the core faculty of the Social Therapy Program in Copake since 2008 and is responsible for various courses on general anthroposophy and art, the senses, phenomenology, the life phases, organizational development, drama, and clay. He also serves as a member of the Collegium of the Camphill Academy.
Jean-David Derremeaux has been involved with farming, plants, and biodynamics all his adult life—in the context of the Camphill Community in France and the US for a number of years, and in other contexts since 2005. He has centered his work around medicinal plants and the creation of healing gardens and associated workshops—first in Camphill Village Copake ("The Healing Plant"), then 11 years at The Center for Discovery, and now at Churchtown Dairy. Daniele Laberge (a biodynamic herbalist in Quebec) and Dennis Klocek have been his close mentors all along, supporting his fascination for the deeper reality of the plant kingdom. 
Spencer Fenniman is the Farming Director at Hawthorne Valley Farm. He has managed fields and fertility at Hawthorne Valley since arriving in 2012. As a younger person, his studies in Anthropology, food geography, and something-useful-to-do-outside-ski-season lead him to a series of organic and biodynamic farming apprenticeships. The more he practices nature-based farming, the more he appreciates the land and the deep knowledge, listening, creativity and dedication of his agricultural teachers. For Spencer, biodynamic farming is a way of life based in connection, and managing the soil, the livestock and the ecology in a holistic manner provides the fertile grounds for personal, productive and pedagogical connection. 
Anthony Mecca is Co-Director of the Biodynamic Demeter Alliance and a farmer dedicated to healing the relationship between human beings and the earth through education, community building, research, and development. Over the past decade, he has developed and led training programs for the Biodynamic Association. As Co-Director, Anthony is responsible for programs and training, as well as working with the social arts towards building a more harmonious and vibrant biodynamic community. Anthony is also a director of EduCareDo where he offers a distance learning course on Biodynamic Agriculture and Nutrition and contributes to the Foundations in Anthroposophy course. Anthony works and lives on Sun Heart Farm, an educational and therapeutic community farm in the valley between the Berkshire and Taconic mountains in New York.

Steffen Schneider is the Co-Founder of the Institute for Mindful Agriculture, Director Emeritus of Farm Operations at Hawthorne Valley Farm, and Treasurer of the Biodynamic Demeter Alliance Board of Directors. Steffen finished his agricultural university studies in Giessen, Germany, in 1982. He has been a biodynamic practitioner since 1983, first in Wisconsin, and since 1989 at Hawthorne Valley Farm. He loves working with the livestock, especially the dairy cows, and his passion for biodynamics continues to grow. He is convinced that a spiritually grounded agriculture is a major lever for societal transformation.
Jess Brobst is the Dairy Herd Manager at Hawthorne Valley Farm. She joined HVF as a whole farm apprentice in 2016 before moving up the ranks to herd manager in 2018. Jess grew up on a farm in West Virginia and comes with a lot of experience working with animals. She has an extraordinary work ethic and has an amazing way with cows. 
Sam Mirkin
Todd Newlin is the Field Vegetable and CSA Manager at Hawthorne Valley Farm. Todd comes with over a decade of experience as a biodynamic/organic farmer. He has extensive experience in growing for and managing CSA’s as well as working with apprentices.


We wish for this course to be accessible to anyone interested in participating. There is a discounted rate as well as a standard and supporter rate to help cover our costs. You are also welcome to donate to help others attend even if you are not attending. If you are in need beyond the discounted rate to attend, please contact

Standard: $570

Supporter: $750 — help someone else to attend

Discounted: $264 — support for equity and others to attend (email (link sends e-mail) for discount code)

If you can't attend but would like to donate to support programming like this, we welcome donations and deeply appreciate your support. 




Space is limited — reserve your spot today!