Previously part of Emerson College, which closed down in March 2010 before reopening as Emerson Village in April, the agricultural college has been reborn as an independent institute. It offers the world’s only accredited bio-dynamic farming course in English.
Receiving its own home – the Rachel Carson Centre, after the late author of pioneering environmental book, Silent Spring – the college’s purpose is to train biodynamic farmers and growers, who will practice ways of producing food that are healthy for the planet, the soil and human beings.
At the moment, farming, food transport and processing use 10 calories of fossil fuel for every one calorie of food energy it produces, explains the college. Meanwhile, the average age of farmers in the UK is 55, and 60,000 new farmers will be needed over the next decade to fill the positions of those retiring.
The college is offering young people a way to be part of the solutions for sustainable food production. Biodynamic farming views the farm as an organism in itself; not just a place where food is produced, but a self-contained entity. It requires a process known as ‘mixed farming’ – a symbiotic balance of crops and animals, where nutrients, energy and waste are all recycled, and special homeopathic preparations are used to revitalise the soil. Biodynamic farms offer opportunities for people to meet, live, develop communities and gain a truly holistic relationship with the land.
At the college’s official inauguration on October 9th, representatives from the Biodynamic Association, St. Anthony’s Trust, Emerson Village, JSH College in Norway and Warmonderhof College in the Netherlands, as well as a large group of students, alumni and well wishers, gathered to celebrate.
The evening was highlighted by a ceremony to mark the official handing over of the deeds to St. Anthony’s Trust and the key of the new building to the director of the Biodynamic Agricultural College, Arjen Huese. In his acceptance speech, he said: “To be a grower is to provide the ideal conditions for growth and development. However, the grower cannot do the actual growing; after you have toiled and sweated, you can only watch and wait. The Biodynamic Agricultural College has been given its new home and new conditions, and now we must all watch for its growth.”