SUMMARY: The Pfeiffer Center internship is intended for individuals who want to broaden and deepen their understanding of organic sustainable agriculture and the biodynamic approach. This full-time, one-year program combines academic work with hands-on field experience. A strong emphasis is placed on studying biodynamic principles and techniques, including agricultural handwork, plant care, pest management, soil amendment and bed preparation, crop rotation, succession and companion planting, greenhouse work, beekeeping, orchard management, and more. For those with the interest and ability, there is also the opportunity to work with our team of draft horses, both in animal care and fieldwork.
Interns attend all courses and workshops of the Pfeiffer Center, including the One-Year Part-Time Training in Biodynamics, and a weekly seminar on Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture course anchors the academic work. Interns also work with school and camp groups attending our children’s program, The Outdoor Lesson, which helps contribute to the future health of the earth by fostering an attitude of reverence and joy toward nature and all its beings.
The internship’s focus on agricultural handwork represents an opportunity not available in farm apprenticeship programs, and helps develop skills that are invaluable when applied to larger-scale agriculture. The academic opportunities that are integral to the internship afford our interns an unusually balanced life of work and study. The focus on biodynamics leads to a heightened understanding of issues of quality which are generally not given sufficient attention in today’s agriculture.
Located just 30 miles northwest of New York City, the Pfeiffer Center teaches and spreads awareness of biodynamics, a method of agriculture and land care that goes beyond conventional notions of “sustainability” to demonstrate actual improvements in soil vitality and in the taste and nutritional quality of produce.
Following indications given by Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) in his Agriculture lectures of 1924, biodynamics is an approach to plant and land care that combines insightful techniques for building up healthy soil with a renewed awareness of all the forces at work in the farm organism: among and between the soil, plants, animals, and humans, as well as the cosmos itself. Steiner taught that how we work the land and obtain our food must be both thoroughly practical and grounded in an awareness of the unseen forces that act upon the material environment around us.
Under the direction of Mac Mead and Megan Durney, Pfeiffer Center interns use biodynamic methods to care for our garden, which includes 70 beds of vegetables and flowers along with a small orchard, berry bushes, a greenhouse, a wood-fired bread oven, a dye garden, compost heaps, a seasonal farm stand, and an apiary. We also work two neighboring fields with the help of Captain and Eva, our team of Haflinger draft horses, and contribute to land care for Threefold Educational Center’s 140-acre campus. We supply produce to Threefold Café, our farm stand, and Hungry Hollow Co-op Natural Foods Market. We also contribute produce to a local food bank.
The Pfeiffer Center is located in the Threefold community, which is home to a vibrant array of programs and institutions that teach and promote forward-thinking practices in education, agriculture, the arts, spirituality, and social life, including Green Meadow Waldorf School, Eurythmy Spring Valley, Sunbridge Institute, the Fellowship Community, Duryea Farm and the Hungry Hollow Co-op.
Interns work and interact with many adults and children every day; the internship is a social rather than a solitary experience. Candidates must be physically fit and willing to do a wide variety of tasks in the garden. Some gardening experience and familiarity with biodynamics is helpful but not necessary. Most helpful are an open mind and a positive disposition. Students in education, agriculture, environmental sciences, and related fields are encouraged to apply.
Internships last twelve months, with interns typically working 40 to 50 hours over five and a half days per week, with four weeks of vacation in December and early January. Most workshops take place on Saturdays, and there are also garden tasks on weekends. Summer-only internships are not usually available.
An application form, medical form, and personal interview are required. There is a $10 application fee. Applicants must be US citizens or legal residents. Two forms are required to apply; please click on the links to download the Application and the Student Medical Form (requires Adobe Reader, which can be downloaded here). For more information about the internship, please call 845-352-5020 x20, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Qualified interns are provided with a room in Holder House, a 40-room student dormitory on the campus, and garden produce in season. Some part-time work in the Threefold community is available. No stipend is provided.