Certificate in Applied Organics & Biodynamics

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Certificate in Applied Organics & Biodynamics 2016-12-09T14:35:21+00:00

The principles of organics and biodynamics rethink our approach to land management, soil management, food production, and animal care. This programme explores the subtle energies of nature to enhance the health of the soil and the plants and animals getting their sustenance from it.

Taruna has been running courses in Organics and Biodynamics for 21 years. The current format, unique in the world, focuses on individual solutions tailored for those currently working the land (or aspiring to) alongside a wider exploration of organic and biodynamic principles. The Certificate in Applied Organics & Biodynamics at Taruna is for those who do not have time to engage with a full-time programme but still want to integrate these principles into their approach to land management.

Spread over the year, the programme consists of three 8-day seminars combined with home-based study, where you apply what you’ve learned to your individual situation. In between the 2nd and 3rd seminars, you will receive a consultancy visit from a qualified tutor at your own property for a discussion and recommendations.


Teaching takes place at the beautiful ‘Demeter’ certified Hohepa Farm at Poraiti in Hawke’s Bay, one of New Zealand’s earliest established and most comprehensive biodynamic/organic farms. There, participants will gain the practical skills and support to implement practices, will connect with a community of organic and biodynamic growers, and will conceive a new way of looking at nature.

Whether you are a large-scale farmer, a home gardener, tending a lifestyle block, managing a community garden, or still aspiring to work the land, this grounded, practical approach to organics and biodynamics will give you the knowledge and skills to move forward with confidence.

Click to view our Graduate Videos

Taruna – Erin Simpson

Taruna Tutors – Peter and Rachel

Overview of Programme

This programme allows you to maintain your active involvement with the land while studying towards certification with BioGro, Demeter or OFNZ. Your study will transform your understanding of farming and gardening. You will be able to develop a management plan for your own property, while growing a supportive network of colleagues.

The Certificate in Applied Organics and BioDynamics offers affordable quality education, including a world-class facility, on a stunning farm location. Hohepa, Poraiti, is one of New Zealand’s earliest established and comprehensive biodynamic/organic farms. While looking out over inspirational views of the Hawkes Bay’s plains and coastline, students participate in activities on the farm and at the purpose-built Christeller Room where our classroom, library, kitchen and social facilities are based.

The farm diversity at Hohepa allows for instruction in many areas, including: beef cattle and dairy management, pasture management, orcharding, farm forestry, vegetable and herb production, glasshouse management, beekeeping, seed-saving and the making of biodynamic preparations.

Other Hawke’s Bay organic and biodynamic farms, orchards and vineyards will also be visited and studied. Participants will be visited at their own property by a qualified tutor and be encouraged to participate in email support and discussion groups.

Practical work is integrated into the on-site and home-based study.

Throughout the programme participants will complete:

  • an in-depth study of selected common agricultural plants;
  • a range of small-group topic-related projects;
  • individual topic-related assignments;
  • a comprehensive management plan for their property based on the documentation required by New Zealand organic and BioDynamic certification authorities.

Programme Topics

Principles of organic and biodynamic agricultureExplores the history and key concepts, including the farm as a self-contained organism, the importance of bio-diversity, and the crucial role of the soil in land management.
Botany and plant observationDevelops the valuable capacity of plant observation for selected agricultural and horticultural crops, including weeds, and what they can tell us.
BioDynamic PreparationsThe background, composition and influence of these preparations; their making, storage and application.
The Living SoilFrom soil formation to the development and maintenance of dynamic and living soil fertility including application of soil fertility enhancement principles to a variety of land management situations.
AstronomyThe wider cosmos’ rhythmic influences on life and physical processes. How working with these influences enhances the development and living quality of soil, plants and animals. Understanding and working with the BioDynamic Calendar.
HorticultureIntroduction to and practical application of organic and biodynamic methods over a wide range of farming and gardening situations, for example:
Common horticultural field crops – site selection; cultivation methods; selection and propagation of varietals; crop rotations; and pest, disease and weed management.
Orchards and vineyards – design of site; varietal selection; understorey management; fertility; pest and disease management.
Animal Management
A holistic exploration of the nature and needs of farm animals and the appropriate management techniques to enhance their health, wellbeing and integration into the farm organism. Includes animal health and pasture management within NZ organic and biodynamic certification standards.
Farm Integration – Water and TreesParticular emphasis is given to the qualities of trees and their place, uses and management within the farm and in the wider environment and the management of water in the farm environment.
Standards and Conversion
History and role of the major NZ organic and BioDynamic standards. The certification process and conversion towards sustainable organic biodynamic methods. The application and completion of comprehensive documentation for certification of a chosen property.

Programme Structure

Part-time: 36-weeks including three on-site 8-day seminars at either Poraiti campus or Taruna Homestead campus

Each programme includes three 8-day full-time seminars, with all other directed study being home or land based. Spread over a total of 36 weeks, the programme is considered to be part-time and equivalent to 0.5 of a full-time course.

On-site seminar learning is based either at our Poraiti campus or our Taruna homestead campus (see map). Allowing time for travel, each seminar begins at 2pm on the first Friday and ends at 1pm on the following Friday. Each of the 6 consecutive full days requires 8.30am to 4.30pm attendance. As a guide, participants need to allow 10 to 15 hours per week of self-directed study outside of the seminar weeks.

Dates for our 2017 course are to be confirmed


All students: $2,700 (incl GST)

Early Bird:$2,400 (inc. GST) – If fees paid prior to 1st March 2017

Taruna will provide morning and afternoon tea while studying on site.

Programme participants are responsible for travel and accommodation costs involved in attending the seminars, and for their own practical footwear and wet-weather gear.

Entry Requirements

Applicants for this programme should:

  • be actively involved in agriculture or horticulture on their own property, or have access to a property for the duration of the programme, on which to conduct their practical work and study. For International students, or New Zealanders who are not working on the land, Taruna will assist in arranging an internship or placement on an existing Biodynamic or organic farm for the duration of the programme. This is subject to availability.
  • have an interest in organic or biodynamic agriculture.
  • possess a maturity gained through some years of adult life experience.
  • have the commitment and enthusiasm to complete a distance-based programme.
  • display a good standard of written and conversational English.

Those applicants for whom English is not a first language must provide an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results card and have achieved an overall band score of not less than 6.0. Where IELTS is not available, an equivalent test of English must be provided. For further clarification of this please contact Taruna.