In thirteen in-person, full-day workshops from September to June, the Pfeiffer Center’s One-Year Part-Time Practical Training in Biodynamics covers the basic principles and all the timely activities of biodynamic agriculture through the seasons.
In the classroom, Mac Mead and expert guest faculty introduce and explain Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science, the foundation of biodynamics, in the context of Steiner’s “Agriculture Course” of 1924. Novel concepts are reviewed and revisited at each class, allowing students time to assimilate, question, and discuss.
In the field, we learn and do good gardening practices — sowing cover crops, building compost piles, pruning, and much more. The principles introduced in the classroom come to life as we learn by doing how each of the biodynamic preparations is made and used through the cycle of the year.
2021-2022: Celebrating Our 25th Year!
9/18 & 10/16 Sessions will be held in the Threefold Auditorium | 260 Hungry Hollow Rd, Spring Valley, NY 10977 | Registration will be from 8:15 – 9, please arrive with a mask– Class starts at 9!
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Biodynamics & Earth Evolution / Autumn Tasks for Farm & Garden
Mac Mead introduces biodynamics in the context of the spiritual-scientific understanding of earth evolution. In the garden, we do hands-on work with the horn manure preparation, and practice making raised beds and planting cover crops.
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Introducing the Biodynamic Preparations
The biodynamic preparations harness life-regulating processes and subtle catalysts to help create conditions for healthy growth. In this class, Mac Mead and Megan Durney lead us in making most of the preparations, and discuss their healing effects on soil and plants.
Saturday, November 6, 2021
Soil Building & Composting / Seed Saving Basics
Biodynamic composting practices bring vitality to the soil. In the classroom, Mac Mead explores the relationship of soil science and spiritual science. In the garden, we handle composts of different materials and maturities, build compost piles, make potting soil mix, and treat compost piles with the biodynamic preps. Megan Durney presents hands-on seed saving basics, vital knowledge for the future of our food supply and the health of our farms and communities.
Saturday, December 4, 2021
Large Animals & the Farm Organism
The ideal biodynamic farm is a self-contained individuality to which cows contribute milk, meat, and soil fertility. Kim Pace covers the basics of biodynamic dairy herd management, including rotational grazing and pasture management. The day includes a visit to our herd, cow barn, and dairy, the only one in Rockland County.
Saturday, February 19, 2022
The Individualized Farmscape / Pruning Fruit Trees
Hugh Williams, one of the best orchardists in the East and a biodynamic farmer for over thirty years, brings his perspective on harnessing the local ecology to cultivate the farm individuality. Also covered: the science and art of pruning fruit trees, including a few hours of pruning the Pfeiffer Center’s orchard under Hugh’s expert guidance.
Saturday, March 12, 2022
Life Rhythms / Seeing Nature Whole
Sherry Wildfeuer, long-time editor of the Stella Natura planting calendar, explains how the calendar is created, what it tells us, and how we can use it to learn to work with, rather than against, nature’s rhythms and forces. In the afternoon, Craig Holdrege explores how to work with the living dynamic qualities of plants and animals to better understand the world around us.
Sunday, March 13, 2022
Cosmic Forces in Relation to Nutritional Qualities / Greenhouse Culture & Methods / The Honeybee
By learning how to strengthen and harmonize the influence of the moon and planets on plant life, we can enhance the nutritional value of our food; presented by Mac Mead. Megan Durney shares greenhouse seeding methods and supportive cultural practices in the Pfeiffer Center greenhouse. In the afternoon, Pfeiffer Center beekeeper Bill Day covers the role of the honeybee in the farm organism and the household of nature.
Saturday, April 9, 2022
Barrel Compost / Weed & Pest Control Preparations / Small Animals
Barrel compost is an efficient way to boost soil fertility, especially when access to cow manure is limited. In the garden, Mac Mead leads the class through every step of making this valuable substance, and how to use it. Mac also covers weed and pest control using biodynamic preparations, and discusses small animal stewardship (primarily chickens and sheep). An afternoon artistic activity rounds out the day.
Sunday, April 10, 2022
Water: H2O or Much More?
Water is crucial to biodynamics: Not only to water plants, but for the process of stirring, which potentizes the preparations. But do we really know what water is, what tasks it has in life processes, or how it carries them out? Jennifer Greene of the Water Research Institute takes us far beyond what we commonly know, or suppose we know, of this element.
Saturday, May 7, 2022
The Horn Silica Preparation / Biodynamic Tree Paste / Bees / Artistic Activity
The horn silica preparation influences the color, flavor, and keeping quality of produce; Mac Mead leads the class in making this prep in the garden. We also make biodynamic tree paste and apply it to the Pfeiffer Center’s fruit trees. Weather permitting, Bill Day leads a visit to the Pfeiffer Center’s apiary, and the day concludes with an afternoon artistic activity.
Sunday, May 8, 2022
More Work with Preparations / Prep Storage / Draft Horses
The day begins with stirring and spraying the horn silica preparation, then digging up the preparations that we made back in October. In the afternoon we cover horsepower on the farm, with a visit to the Pfeiffer Center’s team of Haflinger draft horses, and the fine points of prep storage.
Saturday & Sunday, June 4 & 5, 2022
Bringing It All Together
In this final weekend we tie together the year’s material to draw a comprehensive picture of biodynamic theory and practice. We review — by doing — how to make and use all eight biodynamic preparations plus the insect “pepper.” In the classroom, Mac Mead wraps up the year with talks on record keeping, field care and crop rotation, elemental beings, the farm individuality, and the biodynamic cycle of the year. Time is also given to project presentations, artistic activities, and a festive potluck dinner on Saturday night.
Dates and presenters subject to change.