Raphael Garden at Rudolf Steiner College has positions for 4 apprentices annually. Apprenticeships last one or two entire years, beginning either in Spring or early Fall. The Apprenticeship Program at Rudolf Steiner College is held in conjunction with NABDAP (the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program) and applicants who are, or will be, participating in the NABDAP program will be given preference.
Training is both practical and theoretical, intended for people looking for a vocation as small-scale farmers or as garden teachers. The program is designed as part of the overall education needed to become a farmer, which may take several years. The deepened understanding of man and nature gained by working on the land through Biodynamic practices offers apprentices a rich, strong foundation for moving forward in life, whether they decide to specialize in farming or pursue another vocation.
Harald Hoven, our master farmer, directs the Apprenticeship Program. He founded Raphael Garden at Rudolf Steiner College in 1987, after completing his own 4-year training in biodynamic horticulture in Germany and spending several years farming biodynamically in this area.
Raphael Garden is a 3-acre, Demeter-certified biodynamic farm, supporting seasonal fruit and year-round vegetables, a large seed saving operation, farm animals and natural beekeeping, in a beautiful, serene, and yet very productive setting. The farm is supported by the 40+ shareholders of the Raphael Garden CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). A model of biodynamics in action, the farm provides for most of its needs from within the farm individuality. Soil fertility is maintained by composted garden and kitchen waste, animal manure, cover crops and crop rotations. Seeds for next season’s crops are grown on the farm. Biodynamic compost and spray preparations, made on the farm or in cooperation with other local farms, are used rhythmically throughout the seasons to enhance life forces.
Rudolf Steiner College is located in the suburban Sacramento community of Fair Oaks, about a mile from charming old Fair Oaks Village. The college is adjacent to the American River Parkway with hours of hiking and biking trails. The college is part of a larger anthroposophic community which includes the Christian Community Church, two anthroposophic medical centers, Raphael Therapies and the Center for Living Health, and the adjacent Sacramento Waldorf School.
Practical skills are taught through actual work on the farm. These include soil preparation, both by hand and with a small tractor; soil cultivation; growing and harvesting vegetables and herbs; small orchard management; small greenhouse management; irrigation; composting; seed saving; working with Biodynamic preparations, both making and application; pest management and control; beekeeping; and working with chickens, sheep and cows.
Social skills are developed through working and living in community, managing aspects of the CSA, and working with visiting school children.
Theoretical knowledge is gained during educational activity in the course of the working day with the farmer, for example in practical plant observation, and through various educational offerings at Rudolf Steiner College. Apprentices will attend, at no charge, the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Series, the Biodynamic Backyard Series, the Natural Beekeeping Series, and a group study of the Agriculture Lectures by Rudolf Steiner. To deepen their understanding of biodynamics, with the approval of the farmer, apprentices can join other college students for classes in topics related to anthroposophy, including The Human Being and the Stars with Brian Gray, and portions of Consciousness Studies with Dennis Klocek.
To further enrich their educational experience, apprentices will join other apprentices and farmers at quarterly meetings of BDANC (the Biodynamic Association of Northern California) where they will visit local Biodynamic farms, meet other apprentices, attend lectures, and participate in preparation making activities.
To complete their education, apprentices are required to keep a farm journal and to design and complete a farm-related research project which they will present at the end of their stay.
In conjunction with NABDAP, the farmer will work with the apprentice to create and maintain a checklist of the skills they will acquire on this farm. The checklist will help clarify the expectations of both farmer and apprentice for the work to be accomplished during the season, and will be the basis for tracking the apprentice’s progress (to see this checklist, visit www.biodynamics.com/
Training is free of charge, but involves hard work: 8-hour days, Monday through Friday, with some weekend chores. There are four weeks of vacation per year.
When you begin, you and the farmer will complete a contract outlining your and his responsibilities during your apprenticeship. Together you will review the checklist of skills you can acquire during your stay. (To see this checklist, visit www.bdtraining.org)
After the first month “trial period” you and the farmer will meet to evaluate how things are going. Continued evaluation of your apprenticeship will occur during quarterly meetings with the farmer. Additional informal meetings will be scheduled if needed.
Farm work will begin around sunrise and often go until sundown. During the hotter summer months the midday hours are reserved for siesta. Much of the work is shared by everyone and chores are rotated among apprentices. There is a tour of the farm followed by a work-planning session once a week and two CSA harvests per week. There are 4 to 6 farm visits from schoolchildren each year, and activities during those weeks may differ slightly from the usual weekly activities to accommodate your working with the children.
In addition to practical work on the farm, you will participate in educational activities including classes and study groups at RSC, quarterly BDANC meetings, and working on your project.
Apprentices are covered by Worker’s Compensation and receive a stipend commensurate with their level of experience. Free housing, vegetables, and milk, eggs, and meat (when available) are provided. Local jobs, both on and off campus, are available should the apprentice need additional support. However, due to the nature of farm work, time for outside work is limited.
Apprentices share the Apprentice House adjacent to the college campus. The house has 4 bedrooms and a large shared living area with kitchen and dining room. Community and social arrangements are made mutually among apprentices for sharing meals, food, and house chores.
Applicants should be willing and able to work hard, have a special interest in Biodynamics, be open to Anthroposophy and the work of Rudolf Steiner, and be ready to make a year-long commitment.
It is crucial that applicants be aware of the rigorous nature of farm life. The work is active and strenuous. Apprentices need to be physically fit and healthy. Any potentially limiting conditions, including the use of any medications, must be brought to the attention of the farmer when applying for an apprenticeship position.
Because of the nature of this work, and the location of the farm on a college campus, the use of illegal substances is strictly prohibited both during work and in the Apprentice House.
Prospective apprentices are required to read introductory literature, such as Culture and Horticulture, by Wolf Storl, and the Agriculture Lectures, Theosophy, Occult Science or other titles by Rudolf Steiner before arrival.
Again, preference is given to applicants who are participants in the NABDAP (the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program.) For information on participating, see www.biodynamics.com/
Please Note: With the possible exception of Agronomy students, Rudolf Steiner College cannot provide Visas for international apprenticeship applicants. Agronomy students who wish to come for a one-year academic exchange MUST verify that there is an organization within their own country which handles exchanges with the United States, and work through that organization. There may be additional costs involved.
For further information contact Harald Hoven at 916-965-0389.