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Poland: Exemplary Private University Implements Organic Training

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

“Protecting the environment in Poland is a popular subject that is offered at various universities,” explains Barbara Kowalkowska, who founded the private university in Bromberg (Bydgoszcz). Nowhere is the subject treated so intensively, however, as here, where there are three subject areas to choose from: Technical Environmental Protection, Countryside Planning and Ecological Agriculture. A total of 1 000 students choose one of these subjects to study. And Barbara Kowalkowska reports proudly that 80% of the 600 who have already graduated have found jobs.


Picture: Barbara Kowalkowska with Students

“We have too few organic products, too few manufacturers, and logistics are non-existent.” This is how Barbara Kowalkowska (picture)describes the situation in which organic marketing finds itself in Poland.  Since training relating to all aspects of the environment was in a very poor state, Mrs Kowalkowska and her husband took the decision a few years ago to establish a private university in Bydgoszcz, south of Danzig. By 1998, they were ready to go ahead; 60 students helped with clearing up and painting and then the renovated rooms in what had been a completely dilapidated building (a former college) were ready for occupation. Today the private university already has 1600 m² for teaching rooms, library, cafeteria and administration. Investment in this ambitious and exemplary project came mainly from private donations. In the meantime, the new university of the environment can draw on other sources of finance, and it receives, for example, subsidies from the EU Leonardo project. Two-thirds of the budget is financed, however, from tuition fees that amount to the equivalent of 115 Euros a month. The content of the courses and the administration are in the hands of 40 non-teaching  and 20 teaching staff.


Barbara Kowalkowska, an economist, developed the idea for this undertaking in collaboration with the Steiner Foundation. She decided on the location because the university town of Bydgosczc, that already had a student population of 40 000, is her place of birth.  She became aware of bio-dynamic agriculture in the 1980s when her husband worked in Germany for a company specialising in environmental installations, and she took the decision to train as a teacher of horticulture in Witten. In the mid 1980s, the Kowalkowskis were in a position to buy a farm near Bydgoszcz.  After some time, this farm was transformed into a training farm for the university. The farm, that employs six agricultural workers, lies at the centre of a large-scale nature conservation project. This, too, was initiated by Mrs Kowalkowska. The aim of the project is to link several areas of land through which rivers flow, with organic agriculture playing a major role. Another important goal is maintaining clean water.


“The river  Notec links the the Oder to the Weichsel, and the whole area is a splendid landscape of meadows that it is important to protect,” she explains. “In two years I am delighted to say we have already had three international conferences here with politicians, representatives from environmental organisations and the water management authority, farmers and international partners from England, Holland and Germany”.


The project was started in 2003, encompassing the administrative districts Luuskie, Wielkopolskie and Kujawsko-Pomorskie, that are situated on the river Notec. At the moment, they are looking for a qualified head for the training centre that is connected with the farm. The centre was renovated a short time ago and has been refurbished. With accommodation for 30 people in the brand new Eco-centre, study visits lasting several days and practical sessions on the farm can now be offered.


Recently, Mrs Kowalkowska and others launched a working group Demeter Poland. The number of Demeter farms in Poland is still very small, but this number could grow significantly in the future as a result of creating an independent organisation. The launch at the beginning of April was attended by more than 35 farmers. The certification body Bio-Ekspert has been given permission to ensure that the Demeter guidelines are adhered to. (picture: organic meal in the cafeteria)


Contact with the University of the Environment:

Wyzsza Szkola Ochrony Srodowiska,

Director: Dr. Barbara Kowalkowska
Ul. Fordonska 120, PL 85-739 Bydgoszcz,

Tel: 0048 (0) 52 345 24 40,
Fax: 0048 (0) 342 28 91,




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