Volunteer Opportunities on Biodynamic Farms and Gardens
Updated JULY 2012
Thank you for your interest in volunteering on one of the biodynamic farms in the UK. All the farms listed welcome volunteers but some specify a minimum age. Please approach the farms directly. For those wishing to do an apprenticeship, please visit the apprenticeship learning page of the website.
Practical Placements for School Children / Waldorf Pupils
The farms are listed in three groups, those which accept students from 14 years, 16 years or over 18. The farmer should be contacted directly and preferably in writing. Demand for places can be quite high particularly during the summer months and it is advisable to write well in advance.
As you will appreciate biodynamic farmers are very busy people and while they are keen for young people to come on to their farms they also expect them to take their work experience seriously and behave responsibly while on the farm. Work can involve a whole variety of activities on the farm and in the house. In most cases accommodation is provided on the farm, either in the house or in a caravan with meals being shared with the family. There may also be situations where students live with nearby families.
1. Students aged 14 upwards
Stroud Community Agriculture stroudcommunityagriculture.org
Farm: 44 acre/18ha farm with a small beef suckler herd (Hereford), a few sheep and pigs (one breeding sow). Vegetables are grown on a field scale and in polytunnels to supply the farm community round the year.
Social context: Stroud Community Agriculture is a CSA with 195 members who form a cooperative. Members support the farm and carry its annual running costs in return for participation and a share of the produce. Land is rented from two local educational trusts. 4 miles from Gloucester and Stroud in each direction on a bus route. 1½ miles to nearest shop.
Volunteers: Space for 1-2 students minimum age 14, minimum stay 1 week . Caravan accommodation can be available on the farm for a fee.
Contact: Sam Hardiman, 1 Bungalow, Wynstones Drive, Brookthorpe GL4 0UN
Tel. 01452 814440 email: email@example.com
Michael Hall School www.michaelhall.co.uk
Garden: 2.5 acre walled garden within the grounds of Michael Hall School partly used educationally. 800 square meters of protected cropping. Produce sold locally.
Social context: An individual enterprise, within the grounds of a Steiner school, nearest village of Forest Row 2 miles
Volunteers: Students/volunteers welcome between May and September, minimum age 14
No accommodation on site, boarding with local families can be facilitated.
Contact: Dorothea Leber, Michael Hall School. Kidbrooke park, Forest Row, East Sussex RH18 5JA Tel 01342 825604 email: Dorothea.Leber@michaelhall.co.uk
2. Students & volunteers aged 16 upwards
Botton Farms www.cvt.org.uk/botton
Camphill Village Trust
Botton Farms: Approximately 300 ha of land is cultivated using biodynamic methods, comprising: 52ha of forest and woodland, 225ha of farmland, divided into five autonomous, mixed dairy farms, including field vegetables;1.5ha of intensive vegetable growing, ( High Farm Garden ); 2ha of seed growing/plant breeding (Stormy Hall Seeds); 3.5ha of herb/flower garden, soft fruit and ornamental grounds.
Botton Farm: A 56 ha mixed dairy farm with dairy shorthorn cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and cereals
Botton Walled Garden: Walled garden with greenhouses producing cut flowers, pot plants, vegetables, herbs and compost.
Stormy Hall Seeds: Seed production, processing and distribution
Botton Forestry:50 ha of forestry, woodland management, wood processing with large sawmill
Social context: Botton Village, the first Camphill Village Trust (CVT) centre has been pioneering new opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and other special needs since 1955. The village stands at the end of Danby Dale, in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park , and is home to 320 people living in 35 extended households. There is a rich cultural life within the village.
Volunteers: Volunteers welcome in each department in addition to regular co-workers and apprentices. Minimum age 16. Accommodation in the community.
Contacts: CVT Botton Village, Danby/Whitby, N Yorkshire YO21 2NJ
Botton Farm: Ben Davis Tel. 01287 661211 email; firstname.lastname@example.org
Walled Garden: Peter van Vliet Tel. 01287 661301 email: email@example.com
Stormy Hall Seeds: Hans Steenbergen Tel. 01287 661374/263 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Botton Forestry: Alan Ayres Tel. 01287 661342 (w) 01287 660934 (h)
Aura Soma www.aura-soma.net
Farm: 500 acre farm. Herb production for the extraction of essential oils is the main enterprise. There is also a small herd of dexter cattle, grain production and a tree planting project.
Social context: An enterprise producing and marketing colour essences throughout the world. Regular evening activities are available. A remote rural setting, nearest town, Horncastle, is 7 miles away.
Volunteers: Space for up to 4 volunteers across the spectrum of activities including the farm. Minimum age 16, no minimum stay period. Accommodation is found locally.
Contact: Malcolm Robinson, Aura Soma Products Ltd, South Road, Telford LN9 6QB
Tel 01507 533581 email: email@example.com
Elms Farm - Akiki Organics
Farm: 12 acre market garden enterprise producing vegetables and fruit and with laying hens, ducks and sheep.
Social context: Family with small children in a village. Some evening activities and other young people around. 7 miles to Worcester (by car)
Volunteers: Space for 2 students minimum age 16, minimum stay period 2 months, accommodation on farm.
Contact: Charbel Akiki, Elms Farm, North Piddle, Grafton Flyford, Worcestershire
WR4 4PU Tel. 01905 381420 email: Charbelakiki68@hotmail.com
Old plaw Hatch Farm www.tablehurstandplawhatch.co.uk
Farm: 200 ha farm with a herd of 40 horned MRI dairy cows which are milked twice daily. A boar and three sows of an old English breed which are mostly kept outdoors, 30 breeding ewes and 250 free range laying hens. Cereals are grown mainly for stock feed.
15 acre vegetables with 12 polytunnels (2 acres) and soft fruits mainly for processing.
Milk is processed into bottled raw milk, cream and a variety of yogurt and cheese, all hands-on and artisan. Farm shop open 6 days a week selling farm produce and other biodynamic and organic produce.
Social context: Plaw Hatch is a biodynamic community farm The land is owned by a charitable trust and the business by a cooperative of mainly local people. There is no 'big boss' and those who work here have a common vision and enjoy producing good food in a beautiful environment. 5 farm managers live on site with their partners/families and share some meals together. 2 miles from village of Forest Row.
Volunteers: Space for 2-3 students, minimum age 16, Accommodation on farm
Minimum stay period 10 weeks (a considerable amount of effort goes into properly training you before undertaking most tasks). Good to know beforehand which work areas are of special interest but if work is needed elsewhere it should still be embraced with enthusiasm. Couples or groups may not necessarily work together.
Expectations: A full day's work is expected. Summer - cultivating , harvesting. Winter fencing, coppicing, stock care. Empathy for animals essential. Sense of hygiene important especially in dairy and for shop a friendly demeanour.
Contact: Liz Charnell, Old Plawhatch Farm, Sharpthorne, East Grinstead, West Sussex. RH19 4JL Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gwyneth - Lleyn Peninsula
Felin Uchaf www.felinuchaf.org
Dafydd & Pip Davis-Hughes
Farm & garden: An educational Centre for exploring creative ways of living and working in partnerships with each other and our environment. There is a vegetable garden, a developing small farm and lots of fascinating building and construction work.
Social context: The project is embedded in Welsh culture and traditional life of the Llyn. Quite remote, nearest fishing village Aberdaron.
Volunteers: Opportunities for volunteering and learning farming, gardening and building skills. Minimum age 16.
Contact: Dafydd David-Hughes, Menter y Felin Uchaf, Rhoshirwaun, Pwllheli, Gwynedd LL53 8HS Tel 01758 780280 email@example.com
Tony & Sue Mathews
Farm: 90 acre farm with a Welsh Black suckler herd, Lleyn sheep and a few milking goats. Tireithin is a difficult farm with lots of very wet land. This needs managing for its wildlife including a good deal of botanical interest, diverse bird life, reptiles - grass snakes and black adders; mammals - foxes, badgers, rabbits, lots of small mammals and even a family of polecats.
In spite of our generally wet summers we always make hay.
Social context: We have numerous connections with the wider community which is also the market for our meat: we sell packs of freezer ready beef and lamb.
Banc Organics, the community garden aspiring to become a Community Supported Agriculture scheme, is a new venture now in its second year: we are growing for 30 families this year and having a lot of fun in the process. There is a supermarket 1 mile away, the nearest town is 7 miles.
Volunteers: Space for one or two volunteers, minimum age 16, accommodation on farm, 2 weeks minimum stay.
Contact: Tony & Sue Matthews, Tireithin Farm, Bancffosfelin, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Dyfed SA15 5BR Tel. 01269 870720 email: tonyandsue (at) phonecoopcoop
3. Students aged 18 and upwards
Monkton Wyld Court www.monktonwyldcourt.org
Farm: 14 acre including Victorian walled garden & fruit garden run biodynamically; also three hand-milked Jerseys, chickens, & pigs, pasture & a small area of woodland all worked organically with some biodynamic influence.
Social Context: Monkton Wyld Court is a charitable trust & education centre for sustainable living run by a small community. All our meals are vegetarian & cooking, cleaning, etc are shared.
We have been running workshops & courses since the early 1980's on a wide variety of topics ranging from personal development to land-based practical skills, & also have weekly parent toddler groups & offer educational courses for schools & home-ed students. We have recently started a fortnightly Anthroposophic study group.
An exciting & eclectic range of groups also use the Court as a venue for retreats, courses, & holidays. We provide B&B for guests visiting the area.
Volunteers: Minimum age 18, older very welcome. Initial period of two weeks, but can be flexible with this as we are looking for one or two dedicated garden volunteers to work with us for a three month or longer period.
Contact: for an informal initial chat call Michael on 07817790554
Monkton Wyld Court, Charmouth, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 6DQ