Vocational Training in Biodynamic Farming
The vocational training in biodynamic farming has been created in order for students to:
- Develop practical skills needed for a profession in biodynamic farming
- Immerse yourself in a farm-based life style
- Get to know anthroposophy, and use this philosophy as a source of inspiration and personal development.
The training language: Dutch
What is so special about this training?
Essential to biodynamic farming are the relationships between humans, plants, animals and the cosmos. In order to produce quality food we believe we need to care for the Earth as a living organism. Biodynamic farming is based on anthroposophy, a movement that started with a series of lectures given by Rudolf Steiner. This agricultural system has been developed further over many decades by farmers, growers and researchers and is now being applied increasingly by farmers worldwide.
Living, working and learning
Warmonderhof Training Centre (a branch of Groenhorst College) works closely together with Warmonderhof Trust. The Trust manages an 85 hectare biodynamic mixed farm, which creates the opportunity for students to obtain so much practical farm experience that not having a farming background is rather irrelevant. As a student you meet many farm managers and you’ll discover that biodynamic farming brings about a lot of creativity.
You can live on the farm in fantastic accommodation.
The training has an international character: there are foreign students, you can do your farm placements abroad and many graduates build their futures in foreign countries.
After the training
You’ll find Warmonderhof graduates in the Netherlands and abroad, as farm managers or employees on organic and biodynamic farms, Camphills, healthfood shops, wholesalers and distributors, and in processing. Farm managers usually first gain experience as employees. The training also forms a sound basis for people who want to pursue a profession outside agriculture in management, creative or care sectors.
During the Warmonderhof training you will develop your own individual way of working. To that extend we use teaching methods that include projects, individual assignments, practical tasks, placements and working groups. All this is underpinned by the basic knowledge needed to perform well in a farming job. Practical classes are an important source of learning. Theoretical classes link in with everything that happens on the fields and in the barns – often that’s where classes take place!
Animal husbandry, arable, horticulture, fruit production, soils and fertility
These subjects get a lot of attention because this is where you learn a lot and because biodynamic farming is based on the cycles of nature. Biodynamic farming means mixed farming: it consists of both animal husbandry and plant production. You’ll be taught in both areas – and you’ll find out how these areas link and build onto each other.
Tractors and implements, engines, farm buildings
Agriculture in the Netherlands uses a lot of farm technology. A farmer isn’t necesserily a trained engineer, but a practical knowledge of farm technology is essential to work safely and adequately. You’ll also learn how to carry out small repairs.
Accounting, management, entrepreneurship
Businesses can’t possibly exist without a solid economic foundation. Therefore general economics, business economics, accounting, marketing and legal structures are part of the course. We’ll practice record keeping and gross margin calculations based on figures from existing farm businesses. Sound financial practices and an appropriate legal structure form the foundations for the manifestation of your ideals.
Observation, earth evolution, preparations
Anthroposophy offers the opportunity to acquire new insights from a different angle. Practical applications of the anthroposophical philosophy include anthroposophical medicine, Waldorf education and biodynamic farming. “The Agriculture Course” is a series of lectures by Rudolf Steiner which forms the foundation of biodynamic farming. These ideas are used by many farmers today to create an appropriate farm structure.
Visual art, drama
A good farmer is an excellent observer and a creative thinker. Observational skills can be developed through working with form, colour and movement. Even sceptical students are often amazed by the possibilities of these subjects and the skills that can be learned through them. Music and drama are offered as extra-curricular activities.
Zoology, botany, countryside management, phenomenology
Anthroposophy has its own perspective on living nature. Evolution, genetics and metamorphosis are being approached differently than usual. Students from mainstream education often acquire fresh insights, ready to be put into practice. Countryside management covers Dutch landscapes and the different possibilities of countryside management on farm level.
The Warmonderhof Training Centre timetable consists of ‘blocks’. During a period of several weeks you work intensively on just a few subjects. You finish the subjects at the end of a block. This system has the advantage that students and teachers can concentrate on a limited number of subjects at the time.
Warmonderhof Training Centre operates through the so called Competence-based Qualification Structure. Several theoretical and practical blocks finish with a Major Practical Assessment.
Part of your training consists of practical work on the Warmonderhof Trust’s farms. In the first and second year of the training you carry out practical activities such as milking, feeding, sowing, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, tractor work and maintenance. In April of the second year all students go on a 5 months placement on a biodynamic farm. Many students take the opportunity to work on a farm somewhere in Europe or even overseas. During the third and fourth year of your training you work again on the Warmonderhof farms. Apart from practical activities you will then also be responsible for planning and supervision. The combination of theory and practical work is fun, but can be demanding. Spending the daytime learning and the mornings and evenings milking demands both motivation and energy.
Farms and market gardens
Consisting of 85 hectare of crops, pastures and modern farm buildings, the Warmonderhof Trust Farm is one of the biggest biodynamic farms in the Netherlands. It is a mixed farm with dairy cattle, arable, vegetable and fruit production. Four farm managers are in charge of the enterprises and responsible for student supervision.
Fortyfive dairy cows are housed in a deep litter barn. The arable section of the farm produces potatoes, squash, carrots and onions on a large scale and some smaller scale crops such as cabbage and garlic. Many machines and implements are available for the work in the dairy and the arable.
In the market garden more than thirty different crops are being grown. A relatively large proportion of the work is being done by hand.
The apple orchard consists of five hectares and forms part of a larger fruit farm of 30 hectare in total.
The basis for biodynamic farming is a mixed farm – therefore the first two years of the training cover arable, animal husbandry, vegetable and fruit production. During the last two years you can specialise in either farming (animal husbandry and arable) or horticulture. Students who opt for farming are being offered more classes in animal husbandry and crop and forage production. Students choosing to specialise in horticulture learn more about field vegetables and greenhouse production.
Several hours per week all students spend time in working groups on independent activities such as publishing the school’s newsletter, organising the Warmonderhof Cafe, maintaining the yard, doing research, repairing machines. Every working group consists of students from different years. You can choose your working group at the beginning of the schoolyear; either the same one every year or a different one for a change.
Review and school meeting
Every week there is an hour timetabled to discuss topics that are important to the group. Topics include organisational, social but also personal issues. Apart from this there is the weekly school meeting which deals with topics that concern the whole school. One of the Warmonderhof Farm Managers might be talking about his enterprise for example.
Living on the Warmonderhof campus “Binnenhof”
The Warmonderhof campus called “Binnenhof” consists of twelve student houses. Ninety students are being accommodated each with their own room. Large kitchens are shared between four to seven students per floor. This is an exiting way of living. The Binnenhof is situated on the Warmonderhof Farm, so you don’t have to miss anything of the activities of the farm. Whenever the house feels too small, you can visit the cows, have a walk in the garden, work in the fields, help the farmers or enjoy the countryside. As a consequence you feel like a farmer or grower living in a beautiful location. A health food shop is situated on the campus so doing your weekly shopping doesn’t take much time at all. The rent for the rooms is around 225 Euros per month exclusive of rates.
Students with a level 2 qualification or higher can be admitted to the course. Many students apply to the course with higher qualifications; the combination of theoretical study and practical work guarantees a meaningful learning experience for students from all backgrounds.
Information and applications
It is always possible to sit in for a day and experience our unique educational approach. During such a sit-in day or at any other time you can have an informative conversation with one of the course leaders to find out if this is the training for you.
Programme Coordinator: Gert Nieboer
Tel : +31 (0)321 – 386 860
Address: P.O. Box 369 8250 AJ Dronten, The Netherlands
From May 10th: Wisentweg 10, 8251 PC Dronten
Untill May 10th:
De Drieslag 2 8251 JZ Dronten, The Netherlands (directions)