A sustainable future needs skilled, knowledgeable and passionate new farmers and gardeners.

The Crossfields Institute Level 3 Diploma in Biodynamic Farming and Gardening provides a two-year training that combines the development of practical skills alongside the development of deeper understanding which is needed for a new generation of farmers and gardeners.  This training is designed along the lines of a classical apprenticeship, combining practical and theoretical learning with the aim of building confidence and resilience in producing high-quality food in a way that works cooperatively with nature, just what is needed to make the world a better place.  Sustainable agriculture offers solutions for current challenges and potential for positive change in areas such as climate, environment, health, and economics.  This training prepares students to be part of this positive change in the world. By working alongside experienced practitioners and being actively involved in the management of a biodynamic/organic farm or garden, students gain the ‘on the job’ skills needed to run a production enterprise.  sheep sheering - 1Alongside the development of practical skills, students take seminars during the winter months when the practical work is less busy.  These courses bring students from all over the country together to consider biodynamic principles, aspects of a farm and garden and how these can work together harmoniously with nature. They include classroom and outdoor teaching, artistic activities and plenty of discussions.  Students have more than 30 teachers each with a professional background that offers students insight into many different areas of expertise. These complement the practical experience gained in day-to-day work, offering the opportunity to work meaningfully in creating practical solutions for the future.on farm study - 1 With more than 20 years of experience in the provision of agricultural education, we are pleased to offer this unique professional training, the only certified level 3 diploma in the agroecological sector in the UK.

Accreditation

more about accreditation
The Diploma in Biodynamic Farming and Gardening is an Ofqual Regulated qualification awarded by Crossfields Institute.  It was designed as a collaboration between the Biodynamic Agricultural College and Crossfields Institute to be delivered by BDAC and is endorsed by the Biodynamic Board of Studies and the Biodynamic Association.  Crossfields Institute assures the quality and standard of the training and assessment offering a meaningful and internationally accepted vocational qualification.

Entry Requirements

more about entry requirements
Students who enroll in the Diploma course should have a minimum of six months of practical experience in land-based work.  In addition, it is essential that students have the capacity for self-guided study, the motivation for active learning and an open attitude to biodynamic perspectives.  An equivalent to GCSE level education (level 2) and a minimum age of 18 is required, though due to the nature of the training, an age of at least 21 is recommended (there is no upper age limit). Students should be willing and able to physically work in an agricultural environment throughout the seasons and to work in the normal routines of the placement.  This can sometimes mean long working hours and weekend work. Each training centre will also have their own requirements including the respect of health and safety, general rules of conduct and possibly the need for a valid driving license. If you currently have no practical experience and are interested in the training, there are a few ways to gain some practical experience.  Some of the training centres offer seasonal volunteer placements, or you can take a look at the links below for routes to gain experience. www.wwoof.org.uk www.communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk

How it works

Earn while you learn.
Really, the training is not expensive. Consider, you are getting a thorough education without causing debt. Seminar days are cheap compared to most other training schemes. Your training is unique, its: professional, certified, comprehensive, holistic and covers biodynamic, organic and permaculture aspects. Our training rewards the work placements with grants to ensure their commitment to train you, which is halve of your BDAC fee.
more about the practicalities and costs
Students identify a work placement in a farm or garden from the list of training centres below.  When you begin the work placement you become an employed trainee at the training centre which includes a contract with the farm for working hours (usually 35-44 hours per week with seasonal flexibility) and a wage (all farms pay at least minimum wage).  These wages should be enough to cover your living expenses and the cost of your training (which is a £500 initial payment followed by 24 monthly payments of £450).  These payments include all the costs of your training on and off the farm: 40 days of seminars, accommodation and lunches during the seminars, personal support, quality assurance, registration and assessment. There is no specific date for starting the training, this is usually done in negotiation with the training centre and although it is often most convenient for a training centre to have new students joining in Spring or Autumn, enrolment for the diploma course are welcome throughout the year.  The seminars are on a continuous rotation and are flexible to meet students’ needs.

student feedback

see feedbacks

prospective students statements:

Because I would like to have the possibility in my future to live in an eco-village/community were to work the soil and cultivate respecting the environment through an eco-sustainable agriculture.

I’m really intrigued by the opportunity to get to know in-depth what biodynamic agriculture means, not only in a theoretical way, but also in practice. Learning how to preserve a healthy environment. Getting to know people who have been in the business for a long time and take them as an example. Meeting new people who share the desire to live in an eco-sustainable way, in harmony with nature, and form new bonds with them. Being able to recognize my skills, work on them and develop new ones.

I find it really fascinating to consider mankind as part of nature and not against it. A lifestyle not based on consumerism and resource exploitation. 

I find it very interesting as well as an approach that is not only scientific, but also spiritual. We are connected to the universe. An agriculture that aims at safeguarding biodiversity and helping nature, supporting it in the process of evolving.  All this working alongside biological and cosmic rhythms.

A. B.

I would like to thank you for creating this great opportunity to learn farming and gardening. It is an amazing opportunity that I definitively want to be part of.

I chose to do this career/diploma/experience because I have realised that working with the land and understanding nature are very efficient ways to raise awareness of the environmental emergency that we are facing. I want to learn as much as I can of farming and organic gardening, permaculture and biodynamics, in order to carry out environmental education projects to raise awareness among my generation (I am 26 years old), as well as among younger generations. As well, I want to work touching the earth and become more resilient, being part of a conscious transition that is needed.

I have chosen to do the BDAC work-based training because it is holistic and it goes straight to the point. I have been searching for the last year a long-term practical experience in gardening and farming, but none of them gave me the chance to sustain myself by doing it. Our common home (earth) cannot wait and we really need responsible green education. I know there is nothing I need more than to be part of the BDAC work-based training.

J. J.-O. 

I choose the career of Biodynamic Farming because I believe that everything starts here. If there was only one thing I can do for the world, the most effective would be to participate in the redefinition of food and farming. Secondly, and personally speaking, my only regret so far is that I do not have a “trade” – a real skill, which belongs to my hands. Thirdly, before and after the revolution comes, I wish to have a real and valuable exchange for the services of my fellow man. Those three elements combine to make this the ideal path.
A holistic world view has been developed experientially by me over the last few years: there is a dimension in which all things are one, there is a dimension in which all things may be considered law-conformable, and relate in a specific pattern. The language of music and the language of myth and astrology – “the name of God” – these things have been a consuming passion for the last three years, and still are. If we act in conformity with these metaphysical facts, we can grow as nature does – exponentially. Until then, mankind will flounder…
Biodynamics is the only discipline that satisfactorily provides the mechanism for ENACTING these explorations and realisations to my satisfaction. Biodynamics answers a great many of my major questions – it is the codified rationalisation of philosophy into action. By training and nature, I am a philosopher, but my nature also demands that that is enacted. By the law of analogy, to learn of anything is to learn of all things, and if I was able to have invented biodynamics, I would have. 

My aim is to create a farm which works for profit. It will be owned as a co-operative and staffed by the payrolled community which lives on the same land. The profits will be re-invested into the project. The use of “spooky” technology like radionics, dowsing and homeopathy will be explored and developed. The aim is not only land regeneration and the profitable and competitive distribution of ideal foodstuffs, but ultimately the creation of an education centre for children, a naturopathic health centre (a simple extension of the understanding of biodynamic principles developed through interaction with the land), and a campaign centre for land rights for the common people (land being the one true wealth). 

N. W.

The apprenticeship in biodynamic gardening and farming is of interest to me for a variety of reasons. I am passionate about wholesome food and about biodiversity preservation; I love to be out in the open, work with my two hands and be immersed in the cyclical ways of nature; and I believe that biodynamic farming contributes to a healthy and food secure future for human communities, bees and birds, and the interconnected organisms in the web of life. The revolution that will save our habitat here on planet earth can only happen if everything grows holistically in harmony with nature. I hope that by participating in this work-based training I will acquire the skills, know-how and confidence to start a small biodynamic garden, grow wholesome food, save organic seeds and actively participate in the wise ways of mother nature. 

The main aspect for choosing this work-based training course is that my friends, my partner and I are in the early stages of planning and starting a housing project, an intentional community, in which we hope to set up a biodynamic garden to provide food for ourselves, and maybe in the long run also to the community around us. I want to invest the 2 years into training and learning as much as I can before I start working on a piece of land independently. In addition, I think this training would not only provide me with important knowledge on how to interact with and learn from nature but also strengthen my ability to work and live in the community. 

Biodynamic farming speaks to me because of its inclusive, diverse, holistic, cyclical nature in which every part and organism is recognised to play a crucial role. I loved gardening and interacting with animals since I was a small girl. I grew up with goats, horses, chickens and dogs on my family’s land from the age of 7 when my parents bought an old farmhouse in the countryside. We were not a commercial farm but reared chickens and goats for our own use. We also cultivated a kitchen garden with various herbs, some vegetables and fruits, and planted fruit and nut trees. I was motivated and involved in the processes on the land with a special interest in caring for the goats, cultivating the kitchen garden, and helping my mother make jams, goats’ cheese, and other food. 

When I came across the training in biodynamic farming and gardening, I knew that this was what I have been looking for. What I love about the program is that it is a practical immersion into farm work throughout the seasons with some theoretical seminar weeks. I like to learn in a cyclical process by doing, observing outcomes of effort, documenting, repeating, learning more, discussing, asking, and starting again. In addition, I value theoretical and philosophical lessons, readings and workshops. And I love to exchange experiences with peers and make friends. The work-based training seems to have all these aspects. I am aware that the two years will be challenging, that the work will not always be easy on body and mind but I am prepared to put all my will and effort into the training. And not only will I gain knowledge and skills, I will also grow and develop as a person, learn about myself and my interaction with others and I will use my existing skills to contribute to the community as best as I can.  

M.-J. H.

during the training:

When I just started the training, I had no experience in taking care of livestock. Despite the lack of experience, I had a desire or maybe better said; curiosity, about livestock and how to take care and manage them. In the past 9 months of my training, I’ve made quite some progress.

Working with animals gives me joy. I knew I was interested but that it would make me so happy as it does, I didn’t know before. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction. Also, the big responsibility you have to take care of livestock, living creatures, is something I like to take on. 

My physical body is changed in the past few months. I have developed more strength and muscles. Friends I hadn’t seen since I started the training confirmed that, they saw me changed. My body has become a bit more solid. I feel more secure on the earth. Being more ‘in’ my body. Working in the rhythm of the seasons, adapting to all sorts of weather has made me stronger and a bit tougher as well. I also feel resilient, both physically as mentally. I take live more as it comes. So, I believe that my work as a farmer has a positive influence on my personal life.

J. L.-H.

 Upon reflection everything has changed since starting my apprenticeship, I feel, possibly for the first time in my life, that I have found something that truly makes sense to me, something that awakens my will to do, whilst encouraging my soul to sing and be playful. Physically, mentally and emotionally I face great challenges  each and everyday, although exhausting at times the reward has always been far greater than the challenges faced.

My initial intentions where to learn all there is to know about growing biodynamic food, little did I know that ‘farming’ means animal husbandry rather than ‘gardening’, however after two weeks as a farmers apprentice, I was walking, relatively comfortably, among great beasts, I once feared. Not only was I milking these beautiful creature but being kicked by them and taught great life lessons all at the same time. I feel extremely privileged to be working with cattle. The feeling you get when moving with a heard in the pitch black of an early morning or late night, as their calm steadiness lives in the atmosphere and it is palpable, is something I will treasure for my whole life.  Not to mention that at 6am in the milking parlour when no one is about and you are in need of a good heart to heart, you can always count on Sara or Charlotte to lend a listening, fury ear and some calming reassurance.

My biggest challenge to date was running the farm for two weeks whilst the farmer went on a much-deserved holiday. I learnt a great deal about the animals, companions (special needs adults) and myself. The pressure of running the farm and single handedly, coordinating six to ten companions (when carer didn’t show up) was something indeed. This experience has helped me understand my strengths and limitations and taught me that it is ok to ask for assistance in the future otherwise I am bound to burn out before the apprenticeship is complete. 

Physically, shaaaaaw, I have gotten strong and love feeling fit and healthy, even when you are exhausted from a week’s work you feel good because the weariness is wholesome and the progress made is often of visible.  I will continue with love, happiness and gratitude in my day-to-day work as I acquire knowledge and do the work that makes the most sense to me; where work and life are synonymous, where my soul resonates with the world around me, where I feel I am in the right place at the right time and where my values are strengthened, where my interests are supported, and finally that I have this opening in my life to stand on the shoulders of the biodynamic giants, right here and right now in the present whilst preparing for the future.

K. S.

I look at the apprenticeship as an opportunity to construct a strong bond with the rhythm of nature and its manifestations (the season, wind, light ratio, etc.). I was attracted by the opportunity to work and live on a farm over two season so to intake these changes. 

There has been an automatic mechanism of assimilation due to the fact that I was in close contact with changes occurring in plants, animals and landscape and my work gave me the time to observe and reflect on them. 

Together with these I regularly registered my observations on a diary (I will forward the diary as part of my units). One interesting experiment has been documenting the stages of development of a blackcurrants bush through the different season. The documentation was done with drawings and notes.

Coming to the end of my second year I feel I gain a certain understanding on 

how certain natural rhythms and cycles occurs. These patterns are following the alternation of the seasons. On a personal level, this is a great instrument to have so to be able to observe more directly the world around us and to connect with basic movements regulating our habitat.

N. L.

ex-student’s feedback:

The seminars have been really well organised with first class accommodation and brilliant lecturers. Kai L. has a lot of knowledge about Biodynamic farming and is a fantastic teacher. I was also particularly impressed to be lectured by Richard Thornton Smith and Jonathon Code both of whom are authors of books that I have read.

I have enjoyed working on the portfolio and have found that in researching a lot is learnt on the subjects studied. I like the format and now that I have understood the process it is easy to follow. I submit the units using dropbox, after finding out how it works it is simple. I had bought my own laptop to be using for the coursework. At first, it takes a little time to work out how to do things, but then its quick and is a useful skill.

The BDAC admin is well organised, making a lot of effort to ensure that the training sessions were very good. Kai is an approachable person who makes an easy relationship with people so I feel that if I had a problem I could ask him for help and advice.

The biodynamic training was fantastic and i now work at the farm as a  farmer gardener and care worker.

I changed my life for the better and i love my job.

J. W.

The BDAC training enveloped so many branches of my life with one shot. The way it is set up with the program and the different places we have opportunity visiting gives opportunity for a rich variety of experiences. Being long term on one places throughout the year and then having the chance to travel for the block courses brought excitement in my daily routines, it helped me look forward to them, also because of me being able to see my college students and the curiosity of what have they been doing in those periods of time.  

The training has changed me in a way that I’ve never imagined, it brought to me Anthroposophy and imbued it in my Soul in a silent way. Being able to practice Anthroposophical ideas in the Will through BioDynamics made it Alive in many domains. It allows me to view the organic world with the lens of Goethean observation, to treat my health with more understanding by seeing how soil is grown, than plants from the soil after the animal realm and the human. It allowed me to see the link of a whole system of complicated beings living in a synergy. 

I would recommend the training to anyone person, by that I mean If you want to be a lawyer, a broker, an actor, a jazz piano player, a teacher, it doesn’t matter this training will have its own attitude towards you and will find a way of engaging with your passion in pictorial and holistic way. It can bring inspiration for the will impulses and light for living thoughts.

The reason why I did Biodynamical instead of a conventional practice or any other is that I saw the holistic attitude towards the Natural world within BioDynamics. It works with forces beyond the physical, and yes other practices may do as well, but BioDynamics is ought to do that consciously and through intention to send impulses to a variety of beings in the Spiritual world which he (the gardener/farmer) have a relationship with. 

T. N. 

The biodynamic training has been giving me the opportunity to be fully immersed in the practical work with the Land. 

Especially in this kind of work, it is essential to incarnate with our whole body in the jobs we do.

The trainers i met have a very deep insight about biodynamic agriculture but also a good knowledge of the wider anthroposofic world.

I found the seminars essential too. I think they have been spread over the year wisely and they provide a space for reflection. It is very important sometimes to get out of your intense routine and be able to deepen some aspects of your work to go then back to your place more conscious and knowledgable.

The courses are also very intense. There is always a lot of stuff to take in but i guess it is the only way to really dip ourselves into Biodynamics and into Agriculture for the two years training.

The lectures have been very good especially because led by farmers, gardeners and researchers with long experience in their field.

The portfolio helps to give a structure to the experience and the study over these 2 or 3 years. I think it is well thought.

Regarding the support, I have been given so far it is very positive. Anytime I had a question or a doubt i got an answer straight away.

M. G.

The Biodynamic training has really helped me define what I love and am passionate about in life, and what I really want my life to be about. The very things that drew me to the apprenticeship in the first place was the spiritual, esoteric aspect of biodynamics, and that is now what I am following. I definitely feel my work on the farm gave me a real sense of the way the landscape changes, and is alive. The work on the farm was certainly challenging, it really pushed me with what I am capable of, both emotionally and physically. I look back, and I’m really proud that I did it, and that I tried and worked so hard at something that I found so difficult. I now go back to the farm twice a year for preparation days, and I can have a really good relationship with Jo, and know that all the work paid off. Through the influence of the training, I’ve stepped into a whole new life that I love, subjects that I really love that sustain and fulfil me.

F. M.

FAQ

see FAQ
I was wondering what’s the best next step for me to take in signing up to do the bio-dynamic apprenticeship?

The first step is to contact some work placements of your choice from the vacancy list on our website. Make contact describe yourself and what you are looking for and why. Take time to visit those possible placements too, best spend a trial period. When you have agreed on a start date at one of our registered work placements you register with us. Then you will receive detailed training information and your first invoice after you have started your placement. Note questions to clarify with placements – see below in this section.

Would I be living, eating, sleeping at the farm for the year and its all paid for through working?
This varies from farm to farm. Most work placements offer accommodation on-site. Some help you to find local accommodation off-site. Some placements offer shared lunches. The cost for these are also varied, please, explore and clarify at the relevant placement. Note questions to clarify with placements – see below in this section.
Can you clarify the price and how it is paid for?
The price for the BDAC work-based training is £500 when you start your training, followed by 24 months of £450 by the end of each month (after you should have received your monthly employment payment at the work placement/farm).
£500 + £5400/year (2xyears) = £10,800 for the total training and diploma costs. Your employment income is at the minimum wage (from April 2019) of £7.70 (21-24 years age), £8.21 (25 and older) for 48 weeks per year (4 weeks you will be at BDAC seminars with accommodation, teaching and lunches provided by the BDAC), you will be working between 35-44 hours per week.
Almost half of the training fee the BDAC returns to ‘your’ work placement/farm to pay for your work placement training. The rest covers BDAC seminars, portfolio assessments, quality assurance, individual support and visits at your work placement, registration and certification costs, general admin and course development. However, some placements remunerate your work, by paying all your living and training expenses incl. pocket-money.
Really, this training is not expensive. Seminar days are cheap compared to most other training. Your training is unique, it is professional, certified, comprehensive, holistic and covers biodynamic, organic and permaculture aspects. Our training rewards the work placements with grants to ensure their commitment to training you, which is half of your BDAC fee.
Consider, you are getting a thorough education without causing debt.
I would like to inquire about how the £450 monthly payments work, please could you send me information about this.
Out of your monthly salary, you will be able to pay 24 months £450 to the BDAC by setting up a standing order with your bank.
Do you have semesters? In other words, do students get a break after months of education? Or is it a full 2-year education schedule without any break?
The work-based training is not college-based. You are based on your work placement for two years. Each year in autumn one week, in January two/three weeks and in March one week all students from all over the UK and Ireland come together for seminars. The classroom-based seminars are at different locations to offer a range of local farm visits. Therefore we have no semesters. You will have a number of holidays during your work placement (about 27 days per year, incl. Bank holidays). Your education is classroom-based during seminars and practical based during your work placement.
Could you give me some information regarding accommodation? What are my options?
Your accommodation is deferent from work placement to work placement. It could be a caravan, room at the farm or room/flat in the local area of your work placement. You need to find out what is on offer or possible at the individual placement. Costs, therefore, will range.
Accommodation at seminars is paid for by your monthly payments to the BDAC. Usually, they are one- or two-bedrooms. Note questions to clarify with placements – see below in this section.
Would it be an option to start at the beginning of December?
Yes, you can start in December, then your first seminar would be in January. The seminars run continues and your last one would be in autumn two years later. You can start at any time of the year. However, when you can start depends on your work placements requirements/possibilities. You need to make relevant arrangements with your work placement.
Information to find out from your work placement:
– How many hours work per week? (hourly minimum wage payment depending on your age: 25 and over £8.21; 21-24 £7.70).
– What are the weekend and holiday arrangements?
– What accommodation is on offer and what are the costs?
– What arrangements are there for food? Are there any shared meals? Can one get free/cheap farm/garden produce?
– What will the work be?
– What will you be able to learn?
 

Documents

The following Work Placements / Training Centres have placements available – contact them directly to start your practical training

vacancies 2020

Currently, the following centres have NO vacancies:

  • Heckfield Place – large commercial farm/ garden/ woodlands: animals, vegetables, fruit, flowers
  • Camphill Grangemockler – Templemichael Farm – therapeutic community farm/garden: animals, arable, vegetables
  • ASHA Centre – therapeutic garden: vegetables, fruit, flowers, herbs
  • Tablehurst Farm & Garden – CSA – large commercial CSA farm: animals, vegetables, arable
  • Garvald Farm – therapeutic community farm/garden: animals, vegetables
  • Lauriston Farm – therapeutic community farm/garden: animals, vegetables, conservation landscape
  • Camphill Grangebeg – therapeutic community farm/garden: animals, vegetables
  • Camphill Community Duffcarrig -therapeutic community farm/garden: animals, vegetables
  • Hungary Lane Farm – large commercial farm: animals,  arable, vegetables
  • Laverstoke Farm – commercial farm: dairy, parkland
  • Stroud Community Agriculture – CSA – commercial CSA farm/garden: vegetables, animals
  • Seed Co-operative – commercial vegetable and flower seed production
If you have any questions, please get in touch!

If you are a biodynamic farm or garden and are interested in providing work placements, please see the following and then contact us to start the training centre approval process: