Ecological Agriculture: Crop Botany and Plant Genetics


Fall 2015 quarter

Taught by

genetics, molecular biology
agricultural ecology, food systems


One year of high school biology.

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.

Program Details

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 Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

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



Date Revision
May 11th, 2015 Prerequisite added (one year of high school biology).

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 10204

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