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 in agroecology. 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. Alongside 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. 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.
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Students who enrol 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.
How it works
student feedbacksee feedback
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 anthroposophy. 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.
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.
- registration – application form
- seminar timetable
- Unit Overview
- short training info and guidance
- qualification, regulated by OFQUAL – at UK level 3 and EU -EQF level 4
The following Work Placements / Training Centres have placements available – contact them directly to start your practical training
- Thornage Hall – therapeutic community farm: animals, vegetables
- Nantclyd Farm – commercial farm: animals, vegetables
- Camphill Grangemockler – Templemichael Farm – therapeutic community farm: animals, arable, vegetables
- Tablehurst Farm & Garden – CSA – commercial CSA farm: animals, vegetables, arable
- Plaw Hatch Farm – CSA – commercial CSA farm: animals, arable, vegetables
- Heckfield Place – commercial farm: animals, vegetables, fruit, flowers
- Laines Organic Farm – commercial grower: vegetables, fruit
- Akiki Organics – commercial grower: vegetables, fruit, chickens
- Yatesbury House Farm – commercial farm: animals, arable
- Fern Verrow – commercial grower: vegetables, fruit, flowers
- Waltham Place – commercial farm: animals, arable, vegetables, flowers, nature conservation
- Hungary Lane Farm – commercial farm: animals, arable, vegetables
- Garvald Farm – therapeutic community farm: animals, vegetables
Currently, the following centres have NO vacancies:
- Loch Arthur Camphill Community – therapeutic community farm: animals, vegetables, fruit, flowers
- Emerson College – community & estate garden
- Seed Co-operative – commercial vegetable- and flower- seed production
- ETEG – European Therapeutic Education Group – therapeutic, small, vegetables
- St Giles Farm – commercial small farm, animals, vegetables
- Lauriston Farm – therapeutic community farm: animals, vegetables, conservation landscape
- Camphill Grangebeg – therapeutic community farm: animals, vegetables
- Camphill Community Duffcarrig -therapeutic community farm: animals, vegetables
- Stroud Community Agriculture – CSA – commercial CSA farm: animals, vegetables
- Shire Farm – commercial farm: animals, arable, grapes and special crops for Auro Soma remedies
- Sturts Farm and Garden – therapeutic community farm: animals, arable, vegetables
If your biodynamic farm or garden can provide work placements, please see the following and then contact us to start the training centre approval process: