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 will 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 interested in learning more about 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 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 more scope and specialization in specific farm management and production areas.
Applications for the Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year will open at the end of November. Contact Anthony at email@example.com (link sends e-mail) or by phone at 262.649.9212 x14 with any questions or to be notified when applications open.
The NABDAP pages will remain in place for those interested in seeing the strong foundations we are building our new programs on. The graduate profiles are especially inspiring! You can find all the details on our new Farmer Training programs at our new Biodynamic Farmer Training page.
These are Mentor Farms from NABDAP, which is retired. We will have mentor farm pages up for our Biodynamic Farmer Foundation Year very soon!
The apprenticeship program at Remembrance Farm is intended to train individuals in the skills needed to begin farming on one’s own. Through hands-on work experience, each apprentice learns practical farming techniques, and more importantly, how to manage the complexities of farm decision-making. Apprentices learn how to consider each aspect of the farm cycle in its holistic context: how the natural processes work, what the economics require, and how to balance personal emotions and desires with one’s daily duties.
Because we farm biodynamically, the need for a deep understanding of natural processes enters into each decision we make on the farm. We try to cultivate an attitude of search and appreciation for the power of nature as we grow food. Apprentices are given suggested readings on biodynamics and discussion of the underlying principles is encouraged and welcomed. The farm’s finances are completely open to apprentices so that each individual can understand how to plan for and manage their own business. Apprentices are encouraged to begin writing their own business plan, and constructive feedback is given by farmer Nathaniel. Lifelong mentoring is considered part of the package; as new ventures are formed, Nathaniel is always available for advice or just to exchange ideas.
Remembrance Farm’s production systems are fairly mechanized, and apprentices learn how to safely and effectively operate tractors and other farm machinery. Apprentices also learn how to evaluate the role of machines in farm systems, in preparation for starting their own operations. The decision to mechanize or not is usually a pivotal moment in the development of a small farm, and we try to give apprentices the information and perspective they need to make intelligent decisions.
We consider the management training in our apprenticeship to be an essential part of becoming a good farmer. But the skills and perspective should be a solid foundation in any career. This kind of training does not exist in the conventional education system. We think it is the most important training one can obtain. Nathaniel learned to farm without going through an apprenticeship, and paid the price, through much personal struggle, on several different farms. The apprenticeship is designed to help others avoid those struggles, and to build a successful farm and a healthy, balanced life. Apprentices learn how we have achieved financial success and a low-stress work life through specialized cropping, a long rotation featuring small grains, pasture and legumes, and collaborative relationships with other nearby farms.
Size of farm: 70 tillable acres, 16 acres in vegetable production
Diversity of produce and livestock: salad greens and root vegetables (primary cash crops), some small grains, hay, goats (managed by landlord).
Apprenticeship details: March through December, winter and second year optional. Apprentices are paid $9/hr first year, $10/hr second year. Positions are usually filled in the fall.
Mentor Farmer: Nathaniel Thompson
Address: P.O. Box 391 Trumansburg, NY 14886
Phone: (607) 227-4650