NABDAP's two years of on-farm training are complemented by classroom study courses that cover the fundamental principles and philosophy of biodynamic farming. NABDAP classroom study courses are offered in several regions, and are taught by experts in the theory and practice of biodynamic agriculture.
Each course is organized either as a series of weekend workshops or longer intensives for a total of at least 13 days or 78 hours of instruction. All of the sessions in a given region are designed to be taken together to cover the full NABDAP curriculum. Tuition assistance for classroom study is available to apprentices with financial need through the Biodynamic Scholarship Fund.
The two-week winter intensive was an incredibly rich and transformative experience. I was intellectually, spiritually, and socially nourished and left feeling refreshed and ready to begin the last year of my apprenticeship with new perspectives. I met so many amazing people in the biodynamic community who I hope to be in touch with and see again. I am incredibly thankful for everyone who put so much time and heartfelt energy into putting together such an incredible intensive. I am also thankful for everyone who has contributed to the scholarship fund and for Camphill Village in Copake who made it possible for me to attend the intensive.
— Deanna Perlman, Alpharetta, Georgia
The year-long, part-time Biodynamic Course through The Pfeiffer Center in Chestnut Ridge, New York was a life changing experience for me. I had been exposed to biodynamics in the past as I am a horticulturist of 15 years now, but I had no idea the depth in which biodynamics was rooted within healing the earth.
The presenters were each amazing in their own right and Mac Mead was a wonderful lead instructor throughout the course. I learned so much that it is difficult to express it all in a short statement. But what I want to be sure and express is that I feel biodynamics is part of my calling here on earth as I have a deep desire to do what I can to help heal the Earth and it seems a natural fit to heal the cancers of the land through my profession. I am eager to practice biodynamics as much as I am able and I will and have begun to practice on the gardens I am working in. I hope to work on a farm one day in which I will certainly be biodynamic. Furthermore, I will continue my own evolution into knowing and understanding more about anthroposophy which has been and is a tool to understand life, relationships and much more.
— Erin Shroll, Blairstown, NJ
The winter intensives in Ghent, NY serve as valuable resources to an aspiring farmer, providing deeper experiences within observation, biological nature, astronomy, practical farming, and the agricultural lectures. The Nature Institute is a wonderful combination of natural science observation, within and outside of the realm of agriculture. Examples include piecing together the full vertebrae of different families of animals, nature walks in a wetland, farm animal observation at Hawthorne Valley, and a botanical dissection of various fruits and vegetables, among many other activities. Hawthorne Valley connects the realities of farming and raising plants and animals with biodynamic principles by providing instruction from experienced farmers and teachers, covering the topics of the self-contained farm, holistic animal care (from a practicing veterinarian), cover cropping, orcharding, and discussions on the preparations and agricultural lectures and there use in modern agriculture. This experience comes at the perfect time of year for a review and renewal of principles and practices that will guide us through the next season, set in beautiful upstate New York, close to the Hudson river and the Catskill mountains.
— Brady Loux
The Biodynamic Winter Intensives are two week-long courses held each February for farmers, gardeners, and those seeking a working relationship with the living land. The first week takes place at the Nature Institute and the second takes place at Hawthorne Valley Farm Learning Center, both in in Ghent, NY. Each features renowned biodynamic educators in a dynamic learning environment, including lectures, hands-on experience, inner work, and social activities. These two powerful weeks are designed to build on one another, but may also be taken independently, and are open to all.
The theme of the intensives alternates between Animals, Humanity and Evolution in one year and Plants, Earth and Cosmos in the next year. Students may start in any year, and return the next year for the complementary curriculum.
2017 Winter Intensives
Developing a Qualitative Understanding of Nature: Animals, Humanity and Evolution, February 12-17 at The Nature Institute in Ghent, NY
Attending to Animals in a Caring Economy: Working in Agriculture, with Each Other, and Our Inner Selves, February 19-24 at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, NY
Course in process. Registration now closed.
Are you a farmer or gardener interested in exploring the deeper aspects of the work you are doing? Biodynamics offers a unique way to live positively on the earth with our fellow soil, plant, and animal companions. In this six-month interactive course, we will develop a deeper understanding of biodynamics through intensive study of Rudolf Steiner's Agriculture, the 1924 series of lectures that founded the worldwide biodynamic movement.
Led by renowned biodynamic farmer and educator Cory Eichman of Saugeen River CSA, this is a unique opportunity to deeply explore biodynamics in a distance learning format. This is the second year the course is being offered through the Biodynamic Association after many years as an on-farm course in Ontario.
Biodynamics is the only method of caring for the land, plants and animals that aims to raise the vitality of soil, healing and enlivening the earth even as we draw from it for our sustenance.
The Pfeiffer Center's One-Year Part-Time Practical Training in Biodynamics uses classroom sessions and hands-on workshops to provide a thorough grounding in every aspect of biodynamics, from its underlying principles to techniques in the field.
Thirteen full-day workshops from September to June cover it all: Compost and soil building, farm animal husbandry, care of fruit trees, seed saving, weed and pest control, bees, and much more.
Principal instructor Mac Mead, director of the Pfeiffer Center, has farmed and gardened biodynamically for more than 35 years. Expert guest faculty include Hugh Williams (orchard management and seed saving), Steffen Schneider (farm animal husbandry), Craig Holdrege (Goethean observation), and Sherry Wildfeuer (working with the rhythms of nature).
The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Workshop Series at Rudolf Steiner College is held one Saturday a month for 8 months (September through May, excluding February), followed by a week-long intensive in June. Topics include soil, biodynamic preparations, compost, seed saving, tree care, animal husbandry, cosmic rhythms and planting calendars, spring planting, annual and perennial propagation, weed management, beekeeping and pest management. The series is designed as a whole, but workshops can also be attended individually. Each workshop offers something for everyone, from beginners to experienced practitioners.
Advanced Course, Part I - The Individuality of the Farm:
This is an 8 month course, meeting one full Sunday each month starting in September and ending in April.
The central image in Biodynamics is that a farm is healthiest if it can be organized as an independent Individuality. This means having the right kinds and number of animals to provide fertility to the land; having different environments (wetlands, meadows, forests, cultivated soil, flowering trees) to allow the farm to express different forms of life; balancing the crops you grow, with the soil, the climate, and the wildlife. We will explore how this can be a meaningful conversation with the land.
This is not a “how to farm Biodynamically” course, but rather a course designed to deepen and enhance the regular work you are already doing on your farm and in your garden. It is recommended that you have some practical experience in farming or gardening before taking this course.
Required texts: Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture lectures, and his book Theosophy.
Advanced course, Part II - Occult Science for Farmers:
This is a 5 month course, meeting one full Sunday a month from November to March. Part I is a prerequisite.
When Rudolf Steiner gave his lectures on Agriculture in 1924, he suggested it would be helpful to know his two works: Theosophy and Occult Science – an Outline. Getting to know these works gives a firm foundation in Steiner’s scientific research, and helps clarify what initially seem like strange concepts in Biodynamics.
We will focus on the chapter covering the evolution of the solar system, the kingdoms of nature and humanity and explore how this relates to the elemental nature spirits that work behind the scenes of our every day work on the land.
Required Text: Rudolf Steiner’s Occult Science: an Outline (also translated as Outline of Esoteric Science)