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Summer Academy on Organic Animal Breeding and Organic Husbandry

ekoconnect_logoFor all students interested in temperate regions organic animal husbandry and breeding there is a course this summer in Dresden, Germany from EcoConect e.v and the EU lifelong Learning Program. The Organic Animal Husbandry course takes place from September 7 to the 20th near the center of Dresden through the University of Kassel, Witzenhausen. The expenses will all be covered and 4 credits will be offered for the coursework with the possibility for 6 credits with an extra written work.

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Check out the EcoConnect e.v. advertisement (scroll down for English)

Download the English version of the course program

Download the application


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Biodynamic Science?

Just back from an afternoon in the Steinstraße lab basement. We’ve been calculating the dry matter content for a biodynamic germination test with 500, Rudolf Steiner‘s prescribed Horn Manure preparation, under different stresses. This is all part of a ‘free project’ within the SIA Masters Program (More on the SIA study program and schedule. The SIA Practical guide). Our free project groups objective is to see if the application of Rudolf Steiner’s prescribed Horn Manure preparations offer an advantage to plants (Barley, Pea, Tomato, Quinoa) in the germination stages.

This has required exhaustive research and work on our part, as all free projects do. However, it is an incredibly unique opportunity, as we are working with Prof. Dr. Ton Baars from the Uni-Kassel Professorship. Professor Baars is the only professor of Biodynamic Agriculture in the world, right here on the Witzenhausen Campus, much to the chagrin of some of other professors, here and away, and to the scientific community.

Biodynamic Science has been a topic of many heated forums and community meetings here in Witzenhausen as the funding for the position is soon up. The general consensus from the student body is that we need to keep the position so that we can look beyond modern day science and into the possibilities that Biodynamic has to offer. The general feeling from the scientific community is that having Biodynamic listed as a science here makes Witzenhausen seem less scientific. The professorship has enough work to do just supporting the pure organic studies.

The first question I asked Prof. Baars when he presented his research goals to me and my SIA colleagues this winter was about other theological sciences methodologies and their influence on biodynamic sciences. Prof. Baars told us that the biodynamic sciences use modern scientific practices and leave all theology aside. This turns out to be entirely untrue, in our experience so far biodynamic science is an amalgamation of theological, spiritual and scientific practices. It is at times very confused and at times quite refreshing. I have found myself working on this in the greenhouse and in the lab several times a week since that meeting.

The long and the short of it is here in Witzenhausen is the chance of a lifetime to do some ‘way out’ studies in a field that most scientist will laugh at, most laypeople will give you the hairy eyeball about and you’ll be endlessly explaining to anyone who cares to ask. Sound familiar?

Here is a paper on the subject that I found quite informative and inspiring in a funny way: Taking a Scientific Look at Biodynamic

Here is a poem by Arthur O’Shaugnessey for all those who are willing to be way out enough to consider a place like Witzenhausen for Masters Studies:

We Are The Music-Makers

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down. 

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.


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First Week of Studies

Es Regnet (It Rains)

Es Regnet (It Rains)

Hello from a very cold day in the center of Germany. The weather here has been unseasonably cold with a fresh breeze, thick white frost in the mornings and rain in the afternoons. This weather keeps us happily in our warm classrooms and safely away from the distractions of forests and farmland surrounding Witzenhausen and Göttingen.

The first week here in the new Sustainable International Agriculture program was spent half in Göttingen and half in Witzenhausen.

The SIA degree is split in to three major study areas:

Our colorful group of 35 graduate students representing 15 countries (Kenya, Ghana, US, UK, Germany, Turkey, France, South Korea, Japan, China, India, Argentina…) met on Monday in a large classroom where the Göttingen ‘Studienberatung’ Coordinator introduced our group to the weeks work.

We split up for the first half of the week for intensive bridging courses in statistics, plant sciences, soil sciences, ‘Intercultural Communication’ and other introductions to the various Göttingen systems. Millions of forms had to be filled out to establish our status as students.

Finally most of us went to the ‘Global Thinking Local Responsibility‘ conference here in Witzenhausen which I believe they are planning to have again next year as part of the intro to SIA students.

The week ended with a long potluck dinner and then dancing all night at ‘The Club’ on the Witzenhasen Campus.

There is a general mixed feeling of tiredness, excitement for getting to know each-other and the program and preparedness for the work ahead for all of us.

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