Do you already know about the Biodynamic Ambassadors project?
The Agriculture Section in Dornach is running the project “Biodynamic Ambassadors” which gives you the opportunity to experience and support biodynamic farming abroad. For one year, you will work in a pioneer project and become familiar with it and the surrounding local culture. At the last Agriculture conference a meeting about the project took place. You can read an artical about this meeting below. For more informations about the ambassadors visit the homepage of the Agriculture Section here.
Meeting during the Agriculture Conference 2013
On Thursday the 7th of February the Biodynamic Ambassadors project held an open information & exchange meeting as part of the International Biodynamic Conference happening at the Goetheanum in connection with the annual Agriculture Conference.
Only a small room was available to meet, as the Goetheanum was crowded with farmers and other people from the biodynamic movement. But we managed to squeeze the 20 participants in, together with the three staff members of the project office, Ambra Sedlmayr, Tobias Jäger and Reto Ingold.
The meeting started with a presentation round of all participants. Some were farmers hoping to find young skilled helpers, others were young biodynamics students considering a year abroad and there where those generally interested in the idea or who wanted to contribute to make Biodynamic Ambassadors a successful project. All participants agreed that the idea to connect freshly graduated biodynamic farmers /gardeners with pioneer projects abroad is a great idea!
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After the presentation of participants, the project was introduced in detail: What are biodynamic Pioneer Projects? What is the role of a Biodynamic Ambassador? And why do we need a Project office?
Jakes Jayakaran from a biodynamic school initiative in India shared his experiences in hosting the first Biodynamic Ambassador in India. The main point the host made was that the culture shock for the Ambassador had been significant. We discussed the preparation of Ambassadors in terms of cultural integration. There were varying views about how one could best be prepared for the cultural difference encountered on the pioneer project. Some thought the Ambassador should have a thorough ethnographic preparation while others thought it was best not to be prepared at all and to be totally open to experience and understand the other culture in an unprejudiced way. At the moment, Ambassadors are prepared in seminars by the Friends of Waldorf Education, learning generally about cultural differences and integration and being given guidance to do their own research.
Later Ladina Heldstab spoke about her experience as a volunteer in one of our Pioneer projects in Tunisia. It was striking that even though she spoke about many challenges she met, for example as a woman in an Islamic rural community, her eyes were shining as she spoke and she repeatedly said she would like to go again and for longer. It seemed that by meeting the challenges, she established deep personal connections and acquired new capacities and skills that she can now be proud of. On her host farm they are certainly proud of her, as they refer to her as the fastest worker they have ever seen.
The meeting ended with a number of questions. How can the cultural integration of Ambassadors best be accompanied by the Pioneer Projects? Could people from Brazil come to Europe to be Ambassadors here? Would it be possible for an „senior farmer“ to become a short-term Ambassador?
It is clear that there is much work to be done to increasingly connect people from the biodynamic movement who can offer support with those who need it, and in a way in which both sides and the entire movement are strengthened.
by Ambra Sedlmayr
Project office Biodynamic Ambassadors
Section for Agriculture at the Goetheanum