The natural gifts, naturally inherited knowledge, traditional medicines, and so on that have been passed down from ancient times are all losing their value. We need to acquire new knowledge in order to be able to enter into all the interrelationships of these things. . . Today, no less than in ancient times, we are in need of knowledge that can really enter into the inner workings of nature.
— Rudolf Steiner, Agriculture (1924)
As our knowledge of the physical world has become ever more detailed, we have sought to master nature with a science based only on the material and quantifiable aspects of life. However, many advances based only on this thinking have brought destructive and unforeseen consequences. Once we acknowledge the limitations of the purely materialistic view of nature, where can we turn for a more rounded understanding of the living Earth?
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was dedicated to developing a new science that accounts for all aspects of life — the material and the supersensible. The biodynamic method, which Steiner outlined in his Agriculture Lectures of 1924, brings to bear a spiritual understanding of nature and humanity’s relationship to the natural world. Responding to farmers concerned about the declining vigor of their crops and animals, he described an approach to plant and land care that combines building up healthy soil with a renewed awareness of all the forces at work in the farm organism: among and between the soil, plants, animals, and humans, as well as the cosmos itself. The result: a modern, organic way of farming that raises the vitality of both soil and produce, going beyond sustainability to create a thriving agriculture … and a future for our fragile planet.
Scenes from the Course
2013–14: Our 17th Year
The Pfeiffer Center’s One-Year, Part-Time Practical Training in Biodynamics consists of thirteen full-day workshops beginning in September 2013 and ending in June 2014. Workshop days run from 9:00am to 5:00pm, and feature an engaging mix of classroom talks and field activities covering • making and applying the biodynamic preparations • working with compost • the rhythms of nature and planetary influences on life and growth • agricultural handwork and pruning • weed and pest control • the honeybee • and much more. The full schedule for the year can be found on this page.
Mac Mead, Director of the Pfeiffer Center, is the principal instructor. Mac has worked with biodynamics since 1975, when he first learned about biodynamic methods from former colleagues of Ehrenfried Pfeiffer at the Fellowship Community. He was resident farmer at Duryea Farm of the Fellowship Community until 2005, and has directed the Pfeiffer Center since 2006.
Megan Durney is Head Gardener at the Pfeiffer Center and a graduate of the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program.
Jairo Gonzalez is a co-worker and farm work leader at the Fellowship Community in Chestnut Ridge, NY.
Jennifer Greene, Executive Director of the Water Research Institute of Blue Hill, Maine, holds degrees in biology, sculpture and education, and trained at the Institute for Flow Sciences in Germany. Since the 1980’s she has been a pioneer of flow forms in the United States, and continues the pioneering work of Theodor Schwenk in documenting water quality through the “drop picture” method.
Craig Holdrege is a biologist, an educator, and Director of The Nature Institute in Ghent, NY, a research and education organization that pioneers a unique qualitative approach to science. The author of Genetics and the Manipulation of Life: The Forgotten Factor of Context and the editor of The Dynamic Heart and Circulation, Craig has written many articles on genetic engineering, genetics, and a holistic, Goethean approach to science.
Steffen Schneider is the Farm Manager at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, New York, where he is an active participant in the farm’s educational and outreach programs. He is a member of the board of the Biodynamic Association.
Sherry Wildfeuer is the editor of the Stella Natura Biodynamic Planting Calendar, and a co-worker at Camphill Village in Kimberton Hills, PA.
Hugh Williams, the owner of Threshold Farm in Philmont, NY. He has been growing fruit using biodynamic methods on a commercial scale for 30 years.
Certificate and Credit Information
Participants in the full course will receive a certificate of completion.
Participants in this course are eligible for classroom study credit in the North American Apprenticeship Program of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association. To learn more, click here.
The Pfeiffer Center cooperates with colleges and universities offering credit for internship programs or work on special projects. It is the responsibility of the student to secure credit from the college.