A Scientific and Spiritual
Approach to Farming and Gardening
In June 1924, Rudolf Steiner delivered a course of eight lectures entitled “Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture.” His audience: farmers who saw the innovations of modern agriculture depleting their soils and weakening their animals and crops.
Steiner described much more than a method; he offered a well-reasoned approach to plant and land care. Biodynamics combines novel techniques of building up healthy soil with a renewed sensitivity to all the workings of nature on the farm: among and between the soil, plants, animals, and humans — even the very cosmos.
Today, biodynamic agriculture is growing around the world. Farmers and consumers alike are choosing to raise and consume produce grown with a sensibility that goes beyond working with physical inputs and outputs. Biodynamics brings to bear a deeper understanding of all the forces at work in the natural world to guide and direct the course of life.
Scenes from the Course
In thirteen full-day workshops from September to June, the Pfeiffer Center’s One-Year Part-Time Practical Training in Biodynamics covers all the timely activities of biodynamics and gardening through the seasons. In the classroom, Mac Mead and expert guest faculty introduce and explain Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science, the foundation of biodynamics. Novel concepts are reviewed and revisited at each class, allowing students to assimilate, question and discuss. In the field, we learn and do good gardening practices — tilling and shaping beds, building compost piles, pruning, and much more. At the same time, the principles introduced in the classroom come to life in the field as we learn — by doing — how each of the biodynamic preparations is made and used through the cycle of the year.
Students from Last Year's Course Say . . .
“The course was amazing in so many ways. . . . I always felt so nourished after our workshops. . . . I love the practical but I also love the theory and philosophy that goes into all of it. I am now more in touch with myself as a teacher of children because of this course.”
— A teacher from Pennsylvania
“I loved seeing the progression of the garden through the year, learning to use cover crops on vegetable beds, and thinking about the whole year's plan. I was inspired by the ideas about how to integrate animals with the garden and seeing the farm as an organism. I thought it was so important that Mac stressed the importance of respecting and learning from local farmers, whatever their approach.”
— A teacher from New York, NY
Scroll down to learn about our expert faculty, click here for a detailed schedule of the 2016-17 course, or click here to apply.
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. She came to the Pfeiffer Center as an intern in 2007, and took on growing responsibilities under the direction of Mac Mead. Following a one-year stint at Raphael Garden in Sacramento, CA, where she studied intensive production gardening and biodynamic seed saving under Harald Hoven, we welcomed Megan back as the Pfeiffer Center's Head Gardener in the summer of 2015.
Bill Day first learned beekeeping from Gunther Hauk as an intern at the Pfeiffer Center in 2001-02. He is principal beekeeper at the Pfeiffer Center, and also keeps bees at Bluefield Farm in Blauvelt, NY.
Bruno Follador is the director of the Living Soils project at The Nature Institute in Ghent, NY. He is a Brazilian geographer, consultant and biodynamic researcher with a deep commitment to the Goethean approach to science and has been working with biodynamic composting methods and Ehrenfried Pfeiffer's Chromatography for several years. He has worked with farmers and organizations in Brazil, Europe and North America.
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 Director of Farm Operations at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, New York, where he is an active participant in the farm’s operations, as well as educational and outreach programs, including the Institute for Mindful Agriculture. He currently serves as president of the board of the Biodynamic Association.
Sherry Wildfeuer is the editor of the Stella Natura Biodynamic Planting Calendar, a co-worker at Camphill Village in Kimberton Hills, PA, and a long-time active member of the Anthroposophical Society and its Agriculture Section.
Hugh Williams is 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 Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program (NABDAP) of the Biodynamic 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.
Registration for the 2016-17 One-Year Part-Time Training in Biodynamics has been extended to October 14. Click here to apply today!