The programme team will include expert Biodynamic Farmers from across Ruskin Mill Trust. In addition, throughout the programme visiting speakers will be invited to contribute to the programme.
Members of the training team include:
Peter van Vliet (programme lead), Aonghus Gordon, Berni Courts, Ed Berger.
Guest lecturers on the programme are likely to include:
Dr Peter Gruenewald, Dennis Klocek, Dr Judyth Sassoon and Henk and Sybille Kort.
Peter van Vliet (Programme Lead)
Biodynamic Farmer, Therapeutic Educator and Lecturer, Ruskin Mill Trust
For the last 35 years I have been a biodynamic horticultural practitioner. After my training for landscape gardener I worked for 10 years in ornamental gardens and parkland. When our family moved to the UK the land work transformed gradually into growing and trading biodynamic herbs, flowers, fruit and vegetables. For the last 2 years my main focus has been producing biodynamic vegetables and herbs for the local Sheffield market and Freeman College kitchens.
In Holland as well as in the UK my work on the land has always been in the context of therapeutic care and education. Creating meaningful work for and with vulnerable people in a land-based activity has always given me great fulfillment.
For the last 15 years I have been a trainer and core group member of the Work based diploma in Biodynamic Agriculture. In addition to the vocational training on the holding I also taught on different courses, and was involved in the quality assurance of this training.
I am very pleased to continue training people in biodynamics as program leader of the Ruskin Mill Trust biodynamic training scheme.
Berni Courts MSc, BA(Hons), LLb
Biodynamic Farmer, Therapeutic Educator, Lecturer and Researcher, Ruskin Mill Trust
Deputy Principal, Ruskin Mill College
With over twenty years of practical Biodynamic experience and Demeter certification, I have worked to incorporate the understanding of the practices of Biodynamic Agriculture into the varying human fields of Leadership and Management, Therapeutic Education, Social Enterprise and Ecology. It has been an inspiring journey which has striven to raise biodynamics out of the ground and into these other vital areas of connection between Universe, Earth and People.
I am regularly invited to present at Agricultural conferences and also on Masters programmes, whilst continuously working closely with Biodynamic trainees, young people with learning difficulties and colleagues throughout Ruskin Mill Trust.
Biodynamic Farmer, Farm Manager, Deputy Principal (Biodynamics) Glasshouse College
I have been involved in biodynamic growing and farming for over 16 years. I started my career working on several farms and gardens, some with a social therapeutic emphasis, others with a commercial focus. This included a year in New Zealand, where as one of my placements I worked growing herbs for medicinal use at Weleda NZ. I settled upon becoming a biodynamic grower and trained at a Camphill community (an intentional life sharing community with adults with differing needs) in Gloucestershire, UK which grew biodynamic vegetables on several acres for both the community, for a local box scheme and wholesalers.
Upon finishing my apprenticeship in 2004, I took on the management of Vale Head Farm, near Stourbridge and have worked here since. The farm had been an equestrian centre for over forty years and as such was in poor condition. I developed the initial set up on the market garden, before moving over to developing the livestock presence on the farm. I have since developed a strong interest and passion for working with cattle, dairy goats and more recently bees. I am particularly interested in how one integrates an animal presence into a biodynamic holding out of the image of the farm organism and how this aligns to the educational/therapeutic aims for those engaging in the restorative work of the farm.
I have worked with children and teenagers with Special Educational Needs (SEN) for nearly twenty years. This includes teaching woodwork and art, working in residential settings but most of all in a farm and garden context. I am interested in how one offers oneself skilfully to the work; to emphasise what it is that those with differing needs can teach us about ourselves and each other and how one develops ones capacity to carry the work of therapeutic education in the context of biodynamic farming and growing.
I have a strong background in art and design, having studied furniture design and making and sculpture before my career in land-work and education. I am a practising artist, mainly drawing these days. I am interested in how art can inform our understanding of the natural world and agricultural work.