Biodynamics RETHINKING AGRICULTURE
New Logo, Name, and tagline As you may already have read, after more than 25 years with our previous logo, we felt the time was right to create a fresh image to reflect the current work and vision of the Biodynamic Association. Our goal was to create a visual identity that conveys the deeper values and spiritual impulses at the heart of our work — an image that could speak both to newcomers who know nothing about biodynamics, as well as to the long-term practitioners who have studied the esoteric mysteries of biodynamics for decades. Achieving both these goals in one image was not easy, but we are deeply gratified by the result and we hope you are too. (To see the full-color version of the logo, please visit www.biodynamics.com.) In an effort to simplify our communications and strengthen our outreach, we have also decided to formally adopt the shorter, simpler version of our name that our members have been using for many decades: “Biodynamic Association” (formerly “Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association”). And we have created a new tagline that you will see regularly in our communications: “Rethinking Agriculture.” We feel this phrase captures the deeper core of our work in a way that is both provocative and welcoming. We hope you will see reflected in all this work the good spirit of biodynamics growing strong and spreading its light far and wide.
For the future of biodynamics, Robert Karp Executive Director
DEVELOPING thE BIODYNAMIC APPRENtICEShIP CURRICULUM By Cory Eichman Saugeen River CSA, Durham, Ontario IN MID-JANUARY A SMALL GROUP Of BIODYNAMIC EDUCAtORS fROM ACROSS NORth AMERICA
gathered at the Pfeiffer Center in Spring Valley, New York, to culminate a year-long process of documenting, developing, and synthesizing the curriculum outline for the introductory biodynamic courses offered as part of the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program (NABDAP). The educators involved were Barry Lia from Washington State, Harald Hoven from the Rudolf Steiner College in California, Malcolm Gardner and Rachel Schneider working from the Hawthorne Valley Learning Center in New York, Mac Mead of the Pfeiffer Center, Thea Maria Carlson from the Biodynamic Association (BDA) in Wisconsin, and myself. This meeting was generously sponsored by the Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation, the Agriculture Section of North America, and the BDA. NABDAP is the beginning farmer training program of the BDA, which combines 24 months of on-farm training with a course of classroom study, an independent project, and several other elements. When the program was launched five years ago, we created a broad outline of the topics we wanted to cover in the various courses that would participate in NABDAP for the classroom component. We tried to align this with the content of courses taking place at Rudolf Steiner College, at the Pfeiffer Center, and in Ontario. In 2010, Malcolm and Rachel created a new series of winter intensives at Hawthorne Valley Farm, as did Craig and Henrike Holdrege of the Nature Institute, specifically designed for NABDAP while also welcoming other interested individuals. The NABDAP curriculum outline that we started with was organized as three groups of topics: the human world, the biological world, and the physical 1
world. All of these topics can be explored and deepened throughout a whole lifetime. The challenge is to bring at least a working understanding of what are quite complex and comprehensive concepts in Rudolf Steiner’s agriculture lectures. At the same time, we wanted to make sure apprentices were exposed to the basic biology of soils, compost, plants, and animals in relation to practical farming skills. We also wanted to leave quite a bit of flexibility for teachers of new programs to develop courses that suited their gifts. However, in practice, we found that leaving the curriculum too vague actually made it harder for new programs to figure out how to get started. Revisiting the curriculum started over a year ago. At the 2012 Biodynamic Conference in Wisconsin there was an opportunity for those of us working on existing classroom programs to meet face to face. At that time, we decided that, over the next year, we would share with one another how existing courses are working to cover the material. So, each month, those of us who are teaching courses wrote a description of how we are covering each of the topics listed. This had a real cross-fertilization effect, as we each got ideas and inspiration from learning how the other teachers struggle to present different and sometimes difficult aspects of biodynamics.
With all these summaries in our basket, we were able to make a rough, more comprehensive curriculum “straw man” that helped us focus on what was essential for the January meeting. We were ripe for clarifying our objectives and challenges, as well as our vision. We acknowledged that what we are trying to accomplish in this two-year biodynamic apprentice program is very ambitious; European programs are generally four years and may not cover as much spiritual science as our curriculum. However, we all felt that it was essential to introduce these concepts as uniquely central to biodynamics, and thereby meet a real need. One of the things we explored was comparing concepts to capacities. An integral part of biodynamic practice is not only understanding certain concepts from spiritual science, but also developing certain observational abilities and the capacity of intuitive thinking. Self-knowledge and conflict resolution skills are also essential for true sustainability in agriculture. We did not feel that it was appropriate to include these topics as required elements of the curriculum, but materials could be compiled as a resource for teachers who want to incorporate them into their courses. We also recognized the breadth of the material we are trying to cover in this program. When we reorganized the structure into three different components, we were then able to make quite a bit of progress. These three components are: 1) practical skills, Continued on page 4
Snapshots of the North American Biodynamic Community
Applying barrel compost during a course on biodynamic agriculture at huerta de Vinci gardens in Cuernavaca, Mexico (top left); participants in a workshop with Enzo Nastati in Paonia, CO (bottom left); Bruno follador explains the compost “being” during a workshop at Michael fields Agricultural Institute in East troy, WI (above left); compost workshop participants stir biodynamic preparations during “the farm As a Living Organism” biodynamic pre-conference event at the Ecofarm Conference in Pacific Grove, CA (above right) 2
BIODYNAMIC SChOLARShIP fUND: Providing Access to Educational and Advising Opportunities thANkS tO thE GENEROUS SUPPORt of
the Kalliopeia Foundation, the High Wind Foundation, and individual donors, we have been able to award scholarships to over 60 individuals through the Biodynamic Scholarship Fund to participate in biodynamic educational opportunities across the continent this fall and winter. As scholarship recipients reflected in their own words: “My days at the Enzo Nastati Seminar have started me on a sacred path in the use of biodynamics. I have already started making applications and spreading it on our land. My interconnectedness with the Earth is more keenly felt, and I have a greater sense of responsibility to protect and connect with all that is around me.” — Bruce Forrester, Bellbrook, OH “Through the ‘More Humus, More Humanity’ workshop, I gained immense appreciation of the depth of contribution and insight from Rudolf Steiner and others connected to the biodynamic agriculture movement. I found Bruno Follador's work and presentation extremely inspiring. I learned a lot about compost and agree with its profound value in the context of healing the earth.” — Mary Spalding, Chicago, IL
“The continued support from the biodynamic organizations around me have shown me that the biodynamic community cares about individual farmers and farms. I feel grateful and seen by the larger whole as someone who is entering into the practice from the world of organic farming and seeking to bring greater energy and purpose to the work.” — Virginia (Ginger) Salkowski, Manzanita, OR
In addition to this personal enrichment, the educational programs themselves are enhanced by the participation of the scholarship recipients. According to Mac Mead, Program Director at the Pfeiffer Center in Chestnut Ridge, New York: “Thanks to the Scholarship Fund of the Biodynamic Association, several young and aspiring farmers were able to attend the fifth annual mid-winter agriculture course conference at the Pfeiffer Center. Their youthful energy added greatly to the success of this festive weekend where we took up the theme of the ‘Animal and the Farm Individuality.’ It was quite a collaborative process, which was kicked off on the first evening with a Young Farmer Panel and followed in the next two-and-a-half days by small and large group meetings, artistic activities, music, and visits to the cows and horses. It was a lively event and greatly enhanced by the addition of those who could only attend thanks to the Scholarship Fund. The alliances formed during this weekend between younger and older farmers will be a positive force for the future.”
PhOtOS: Bruce forrester (top), Mary Spalding (middle), and Virginia Salkowski (bottom)
for more information, visit www.biodynamics.com/scholarship-fund.
Join us for the foremost event for biodynamic education, networking, and community building on the continent, with 4 days of inspiring keynotes, workshops, exhibits, entertainment, and good food.
We welcome workshop and presentation proposals through
March 31, 2014 at www.biodynamics.com/ conference/proposal.
BIODYNAMIC ASSOCIATION 1661 N. WATER STREET, SUITE 307 MILWAUKEE, WI 53202
NONPROFIT US POSTAGE PAID EUGENE, OR
PERMIT NO. 921
Continued from page 2
2) basic biology as relates to various farming practices (soil science, botany, cover cropping, crop rotations, and animal and human nutrition, to name a few), and 3) the spiritual science that stands behind biodynamics. We felt the skills checklists, which guide the on-farm training for apprentices, covered the first component quite well, and we discussed using existing webinars through organic organizations or developing our own webinar series to address the second component. We could then focus the classroom courses primarily on the third component, so that spiritual science as it relates to farming could be thoroughly addressed in face-to-face gatherings. This plan created a tangible relief in the meeting. Since NABDAP serves the whole North American continent, the webinar format can support teachers in best using their limited classroom time. This new curriculum and webinar series will be finalized sometime soon, with updates on the BDA website (www.biodynamics.com). It is very exciting to have developed the program to this point, and we look forward to seeing it evolve further and reach more people, as it really addresses a practical need for farmer training in North America. for more information on NABDAP, visit www.biodynamics.com/nabdap.
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