Biodynamics 100

Growing the Land, Growing People

Rudolf Steiner / BD 100 logo

Biodynamics: Hand in hand with Practical Skills Therapeutic Education


Since its inception in 1984, Ruskin Mill Trust has pioneered biodynamics in land, gardens and farms. Decades of practice and reflection has shown that the work of biodynamics is central to applying the Trust’s method, Practical Skills Therapeutic Education (PSTE). To further develop the method, seven doctoral research degrees are currently being undertaken.

Biodynamic activity provides the context and is, in a certain sense, the template from which our method cultivates both kinaesthetic and sensory development in which real life work is assured as a learning experience. Children and young adults thrive in an environment where the principle of conscious care is applied to plants, animals and human beings. This conscious care and support of the biodynamic ecology is role modelled in a contemporary apprenticeship manner. The courses focusing on biodynamics support staff to understand the uniqueness of biodynamics. In the Ruskin Mill Trust context, it is applied to growing students and young adults as much as the cultivation of produce.

Something new is achieved when the biodynamic preparations are applied to both the compost and environment. Dr Rudolf Steiner’s insights regarding the regeneration of the life force of the earth becomes tangible in time; it can be observed by staff and in the quality of the food generated. The nutritional benefit of the food is assured and contributes to the life of the young person, both at the college and in the residential provisions.

Students picking wild garlic in the woodlands at Ruskin Mill College

Picking garlic at Ruskin Mill

With careful and diligent support, the life cycle is followed, embedding festivals and culture that bring schools and colleges into a community context. The festivals, including the celebration of many religious disciplines, are included in the organism of the farm, landscape and garden. Students feel a sense of connection and support to see the flow of primary produce go into the kitchens, cafés and domestic households. They are part of a cycle in which they participate in the Trust strapline: universe, earth and people.

Various regulatory authorities have noted how Trust students and young adults enjoy learning and coming to school, despite years of absenteeism in previous schools and educational centres. They report to inspectors that they come to school to feed, care and tend to the animals. Their conscientiousness regarding the wellbeing of the animals is legendary.

Through these deep connections with the animals, Ruskin Mill Trust has also been able to offer particular relationships to animals that bring out the best in pupils and students with regards to behaviour and conduct. This is being researched in the Trust centres, as it provides a significant opportunity for transforming and engaging pupils, in which qualities of trust, care and interest are kindled in such a way that the young people start to design and generate their learning pathway. The exhibition highlights many of the achievements but also the opportunities that the Trust provides its pupils, students and adults.

Preparing lunch at the Woodland Kitchen, Ruskin Mill College

Preparing lunch at the Woodland Kitchen, Ruskin Mill College

Rudolf Steiner’s 1924 delivery of the Agricultural Course at Koberwitz now reaches a global audience, and the Trust benefits from an international movement of young people in particular. They wish to explore the potential of farms, gardens, woodlands and, in the case of Ruskin Mill College, our Demeter-registered trout farm. Rudolf Steiner described how a biodynamic farm is a self-sustaining organism in which the life forces are in balance. We know that the students and pupils, when immersed in this life force, undertake substantial development within their own life forces and are supported to overcome many of the traumas that they have the courage to face and often transform.

The Trust is deeply indebted to the work of Ita Wegman, Rudolf Steiner’s colleague, who wrote a collaborative book, The Fundamentals of Therapy, which is inspirational in being able to embed biodynamics within the education framework and, through the work of Dr Eugen Kolisko, the work of the medical insights of Rudolf Steiner. These three streams of Steiner’s work form a confluence in PSTE and give the Trust a unique blend for dealing with the many contemporary challenges of children and young adults. Dr Ita Wegman’s term, geographic medicine, is acknowledged by the Trust in that the landscape and being of the location is availed, opened up, with deep porosity, so that all involved in PSTE benefit.

Aonghus Gordon OBE, Hon DUniv, MEd
Founder and Executive Chair