International Training Initiatives In Demeter organisations from Central and Eastern Europe

600 600 agroviva
  • 0

Dear members and friends, It is a matter of the heart of Wanderschule and a central element in all ouractivities to empower people and transfer know-how by creating and supportingnew training initiatives and networks. In an Erasmus+ project we were able to launch international consultant trainingswhich offer rather unique opportunities for very practice-oriented group trainings,that strengthen young consultants on their way into biodynamic consulting work.We are happy to accompany and observe how a new generation of consultantsis growing up. In combination with other activities, such as collegial exchangeamong young biodynamic associations, this reinforces a living and growingbiodynamic movement. In a mindful and open process we constantly adapt ourapproach and thus also gaining recognition of our supporters, who make theimplementation of our projects possible in the first place. Eva Gehr and Reto Ingold CONTENTS International Training Initiatives New Faces Announcements International Training Initiatives In Demeter organisations from Central and Eastern Europe Despite the great demand for quality food, biodynamic agriculture isdeveloping very slowly in Eastern Europe. One of the reasons for this isthe low level of knowledge of the biodynamic method among farmers, dueto a lack of publicity, teaching material and qualified advisers who knowthe conditions of the countries in this region and the local language. Ourassociations are taking various measures to change this situation. Since 2018, Eastern European farming organisations have been working closelytogether and sharing their experiences. They participate together in internationalprojects to raise the necessary funds to finance teaching materials and trainadvisors. At the international Trainer & Teacher Conference in November 2019in Dornach, Switzerland, ideas for two educational projects in eastern Europewere born. They were the result of the work of two working groups. In the firstworking group Learning materials for biodynamic farming – What do we have?What are we missing? , which was moderated by Jakob Ganten (NetzwerkBiodynamische Bildung gGmbH) and Laura Bertzbach, the question of whatlearning materials a modern biodynamic farmer needs was discussed. In thesecond group, led by Reto Ingold (Wanderschule) and Maja Kolar (DemeterSlovenia), representatives of demeter organisations from the Czech Republic,Lithuania, Germany and Poland as well as from Latin America exchanged theirviews on the topic How can we build know-how capacity in small biodynamicassociations – experience of developing training in Slovenia. The first project discussed involving Demeter organisations from EasternEurope is an Erasmus+ project to train advisors in biodynamic agriculture whoknow our reality and language (in the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland andSlovenia). The project Capacity building in biodynamic training and consultancy is coordinated by the German organisation Wanderschule . Up to twenty people are taking part. The whole group includes three to six people each from theCzech Republic, Lithuania, Slovenia and from Poland. The advisor candidates meet on farms that are interested in converting tobiodynamic management and then develop conversion and advisory conceptsfor these farms under the guidance of experts from Wanderschule (Reto Ingold,Stephan Illi, Georg Meissner). At the end of the project, scheduled for the end ofFebruary 2024, a group of people will be recommended for inclusion in the BFDI( Biodynamic Federation Demeter International ) list of advisors. Four of the planned five training sessions are already behind us. The secondmeeting took place in Poland in October 2022. The participants were farmersfrom the West Pomeranian Voivodeship. The future advisors stayed on thepremises of the Stanisław Karłowski Foundation in Juchowo, where they had theopportunity to get to know Poland’s largest biodynamic farm with an area of1,900 hectares as well as the Juchowska Piwnica cheese dairy, whichprocesses the hay milk from the farm there. Hopefully, the first DEMETER-certified biodynamic cheese dairy in Poland will soon be established here – alsowith the help of the future advisors who have drawn up a plan for conversion tothe biodynamic method as part of the training. The course participants also visited nearby farms interested in converting to thebiodynamic method. These were: Kolin Organic Farm, where Agata Tygielskaand Piotr Kowalski keep sheep and laying hens on pasture, and DariuszUnieżycki’s farm in the village of Zagórze with cattle on pasture. As a reminder – the first meeting took place in April 2022 in the Czech Republic.It was organised at the EKOFARMA PRO-BIO farm in the village of VelkéHostěrádky in Moravia near Brno, where buckwheat, sorghum, peas, pearlmillet, clover and alfalfa are grown in addition to cereals. Animal husbandry: pigfattening and sheep breeding, is also practised. We also visited the Kutná horavineyard, where, according to the principles of biodynamics, grapes of thehighest quality are produced, resulting in excellent wines. We also visited farmsnear Olomouc run by passionate biodynamic farmers who grow vegetables andfruit and raise cattle, pigs and chickens. Finally, we visited the PRO-BIO grainprocessing plant in Staré Město near Šumperk, the first Czech organic foodproducer. In 2023 the project meetings were hosted by the biodynamic associations ofLithuania and Slovenia. We got to see a wide variety of farm types from verysmall, diverse farms, specialised winegrowers in the Balkans to large farms withcereal and hemp in the baltic states. In January 2024, a meeting in Germany inthe Hohenlohe region is planned to conclude the project. The second project involving organisations from our geographical region is aneducational initiative, which also stems from the 2019 conference in Dornachmentioned earlier. In a speech summarising the results of the working groups,Jakob Ganten pointed out the need for a handbook for biodynamic farmers thatmeets the expectations of modern education. At that time the EDEN project ( EDucation on ENvironment in Farming ) waslaunched by Demeter organisations from Eastern Europe. The aim is to developtraining materials, including audio-visual materials, in the local languages,because only then can farmers use them freely and the language barrier is nolonger an obstacle to accessing knowledge about biodynamic agriculture. The project envisages the use of artificial intelligence (e.g. translation toolsneeded for the correct translation of technical nomenclature) and global internettechnologies. With the kind support of the board of BFDI – BiodynamicFederation Demeter International – and a small amount of funding, we preparedan application under the Erasmus+ program with the help of the Czechenvironmental organisation AMPI ( Association of Local Food Initiatives ), whichhas experience in applying for EU funds, and it was approved by the decision-makers in the third attempt. The Polish partner of the project is the StanislawKarlowski Foundation, which works closely with Demeter Poland and has manyyears of experience in environmental education and, above all, an excellentfoundation. The project activities, which are to be carried out until the end ofSeptember 2024, will start in November this year. One of those involved in making the project a reality is the aforementionedJakob Ganten, head of the educational company Netzwerk BiodynamischeBildung gGmbH , based in Lüneburg (Germany) and a long-standing member ofthe Demeter-Polska Association. His extensive knowledge, his familiarity withthe specifics of Polish agriculture and his ability to bring together people fromdifferent countries will certainly facilitate our joint work and contribute to thedevelopment of high quality teaching material. We are convinced that the model of cooperation developed between theorganisations in Eastern Europe will lead to further projects contributing to thedevelopment of organisations and the spread of biodynamic agriculture in ourregion. Paweł Bietkowski and Waldemar Fortuna, Demeter-Polska Association “Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only anddo not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture ExecutiveAgency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.”



All stories by: agroviva