Ecological Agriculture: Crop Botany and Plant Genetics

Fall 2015 quarter

Taught by

genetics, molecular biology
agricultural ecology, food systems

How do seeds form? How do plants develop from seeds? How do plants adapt to particular environmental conditions? The modification of plant evolution by human selection has played a major role in the history of agriculture. Ecological agriculture is based on an understanding of plant biology, either through the grazing of livestock or the growing of food crops. This program focuses on the science of crop botany and genetics as a basis for propagation, seed-saving, and plant breeding.

In one strand, the basic life cycle and reproductive botany of crop members of the most important plant families will be explored. This systematic survey will make connections to their center of diversity and origin. In a second strand, the principles of plant breeding will be presented through an introduction to Mendelian and quantitative genetics. Some of the agricultural methods of plant reproduction, by both sexual and vegetative propagation, will be considered. Readings may include Kingsbury's Hybrid: The History and Science of Plant Breeding, Nabhan's Where Our Food Comes From, and Navazio’s The Organic Seed Grower.

The adaptation of crop plants to specific environments, especially in this era of climate change, becomes increasingly critical for the future of sustainable agriculture. Laboratory and field experiments, as well as field trips to local farms and plant breeding centers, will provide an applied context for our inquiry.

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

botany, agriculture, seed production, and farming.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through The Greener Store.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$260 to attend the Washington Tilth Symposium and Organic Seed Alliance workshop, take a two-day field trip visiting farms producing vegetable seed in the Skagit Valley, and purchase supplies.

May be offered again in


Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Number not yet available.

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