Certificate or Diploma in Ecological Agriculture – Theory
This course was developed in 1980 for those interested in both the theory and
practise of Ecological Agriculture in order to help them develop their own farm or
work for others in the future. The 6 months course covers half the subjects and
the projects are less thorough than for the diploma. The standard of the
examination is also less high. The level of the diploma course is approximately
second year university undergraduate course. Those who find writing or reading
English or French difficult, will have to spend more time achieving this level.
There is competition for the very limited places which are assigned more on the
commitment of the potential student, their enthusiasm, adaptability and
cheerfulness than their knowledge or education.
Mornings are spent in practical work as the seasons dictate, afternoons reading/
writing & researching projects. Students have one day off a week, one 2 day
period per month, 1 week at Easter, 2 weeks at Christmas during which they are
encouraged to visit other farms in the area. There is a daily lesson/help with the
practical work, 1 lesson a week learning to work draught animals, ride a horse, or
work a dog. A weekly seminar for which reading must be done is given, and
tutorials/discussions daily. A written research project and a practical project are
chosen by the student, and a small experiment must be carried out and written
up to learn the scientific method.
The final examination for the diploma involves 2 days one practical one
theoretical with internal and external examiners, the certificate is a one day exam
with internal examiners.
The price of tuition and board and lodging for the one year diploma course:
The price of the 6 months course, tuition, board and lodging: €6,000.
€300 deposit on acceptance.
These courses are for training professional agriculturalists, farmers, advisers
consultants and those seriously interested. All must have medical certificates and
medical & accident insurance. Fees paid ¾ in advance, last ¼ after 2 months.
Students are expected to work hard to be very enthusiastic & good humored,
have fun, enjoy the farm & get on with others. There are occasional funds
available for the course from various NGO’s & governments, & very occasional
scholarships at the centre.
Over the last 30 years, the course has become recognised internationally, and
used for credits at top UK and USA universities. Graduates are represented in at
least 15 countries, some holding high posts in government and NGO’s. The
courses are more comprehensive than most run by universities and have a heavy
emphasis on practical application.
An interview is necessary for those in Europe, and applicants must supply a 1,000
word essay on why they wish to do the course, 3 referee’s addresses, including 2
personal ones, a CV and any publications. No sexual distinctions are made, equal
work is expected from both sexes although the individual’s particular abilities and
interests will be recognised and worked with. Everyone is expected to help with
all house & farm work as asked. We live generally according to our principles &
are isolated in the beautiful mountains eating only are own food, thus it is
important that applicants can enjoy this and have a profound interest in the
SYLLABUS FOR 1 YEAR COURSES
What is ecology, and how does it work? An introduction to how ecological
principles can be used in food production.
Today’s problems with agriculture and food production, different alternative
approaches: biodynaimic, permaculture, ecological agriculture, organic agriculture
their similarities and differences.
What is ecological agriculture, what is its basis and why, an introduction to
environmental ethics and animal welfare science.
The future & how shall we feed the world’s human population, or can we?
Animal Needs & Welfare - Basic physiology and anatomy of different farm
animals, nutrition, reproduction, behaviour and good management of poultry,
cattle, sheep, horses, donkeys, working dogs, poultry & any other mammals.
Dairying, Care of Dairy Cow/Goat/Sheep - Preserving milk, cream, cheese
and butter, yogurt and other product making.
Draught Animal - Husbandry, elementary teaching, equipment, harness etc.
Soils - Structure, pH, how to improve it, humus and nutrients, methods of
composting & mulching.
Horticulture & Field Crops - Different methods, dig & no dig, mulsh. Use of
draft animals, human labour, weeds, maximising production per unit area.
Watering, weeding, sowing, harvesting & preserving vegetables, grain etc.
Grassland - Production & management, Lucerne, and other forage crops.
Harrowing, topping, reseeding, use of indigenous grasses, hay & silage making,
Cooking - How to use the products from the farm and wild environment to make
exciting and palatable dishes, bread, cakes, curries, savories, vegetarian & non
Alternative Energy - Productions, wind, water, tidal, sun, wood, low tech to
make your own & generate electricity.
Water - How to conserve & use sparingly. Irrigation systems, sewage disposal,
reed beds, recycling, dry toilets, use of second hand water.
Recycling - Of all products from the farm, plastic, packaging, etc.
Fencing & Hedge - Making and maintaining, types and ways of making barriers.
Forestry - Management, spot felling, clear felling, coppicing, hurdle and gate
making, planting trees, types and uses, basket making & willow harvesting. Fire
Fruit - Production, plants & their planting, micro climates, pruning, pollarding,
disease control. Harvesting & preserving.
Wildlife Conservation - How to integrate with food production, where, when,
how. Use of a flora and recognition of parts of plants, Use of bird books & other
Wild Products - From the farm how to manage and harvest them sustainabley
The Importance of Aesthetic Considerations - In the landscape, design of
farm buildings, fences and houses, use of local low cost materials.
Use of Farm Materials - To make items for sale (e.g. pottery from our clay,
spinning, weaving & knitting wools, leather curing & working, baler twine use,
sewing, rough carpentry, furniture making etc).