Practice of Organic Farming

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Spring 2017 quarter

Taught by


High school algebra, biology and chemistry, good communication skills, ability/willingness to adhere to a structured work schedule, follow detailed directions in a work environment, and resolve conflicts in a group setting.

Do you want to produce food for yourself, your family, and others in your community? What does it take to grow food and feed yourself and others every day throughout the year? This three-quarter program (spring, summer and fall) will explore details of sustainable food production systems using the three pillars of sustainability—economic, environmental, and social justice—as our lens. Our focus will be on small-scale organic production, but we will compare and contrast that system to other production systems. We will cover the scientific underpinning of sustainable and organic food production, critical thinking, and observation skills necessary to grow food using ecologically informed methods. In addition, we will explore the farm management and business skills necessary to operate a small-scale farm.

We will be studying and working at the Evergreen Organic Farm through an entire growing season, from seed propagation to harvest, and on to market. The farm includes a small-scale direct market stand and CSA, as well as a variety of other demonstration areas. All students will work on the farm every week to gain practical experiential learning. This program is rigorous physically and academically and requires a willingness to work outside in adverse weather on a schedule determined by the needs of crops and animals.

Spring quarter we will focus on soil science, nutrient management, and crop botany. Additional topics will include introduction to animal husbandry, successional crop planning, season extension, and the principles and practice of composting. In summer, main topics will be disease and pest management, which includes entomology, plant pathology, and weed biology. Water management, irrigation system design, maximizing market and value-added opportunities, and regulatory issues will be covered. Fall's focus will be on farm and business planning, crop physiology, storage techniques, seed saving practices, and cover crops. Additional topics covered throughout the program will include record keeping for organic production systems, alternative crop production systems, techniques for adding value to farm and garden products, hand-tool use and maintenance, and farm equipment safety. We will also include communication and conflict resolution skills needed to work effectively in small groups.

Topics will be explored through on-farm workshops, seminar discussions, lectures and laboratory exercises, and field trips. Expect weekly reading and writing assignments, extensive collaborative group work, and a variety of hands-on projects. The final project in fall will be a detailed farm and business plan which integrates all the topics covered in the program. Books may include Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers by Theriault and Brisebois, Planning Workbook: Organic Whole Farm by Huelsman, Building Soils for Better Crops 3rd ed. by Magdoff and van Es; The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals: Choose the Best Breeds for Small-Space Farming , Produce Your Own Grass-Fed Meat, Gather Fresh ... Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Cattle, & Bees,  both by Damerow; The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Costenbader; and  Building A Sustainable Business, A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses, by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.

If you are a student with a disability and would like to request accommodation, please contact the faculty or Access Services Program Coordinator Steve Schmidt at L2153 or call (360)867-6348; TTY 360.867.6834 prior to the start of the quarter. If you require accessible transportation for field trips, please contact the faculty well in advance of field trip dates to allow time to arrange this.

Students planning to take this program who are receiving financial aid should contact financial aid early in fall 2016 to develop a financial aid plan that includes summer 2017.

Program Details

Fields of Study

agriculture biology ecology

Preparatory For

farm and garden management, working with nonprofits organizations focusing on food, land use, and agriculture, state and county extension, and state and federal regulatory agencies.



Spring Signature

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Monday, April 3 at 9am (SAL)

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$300 for overnight field trips to visit Northwest regional farms and for farm work supplies.

May be offered again in

Spring 2017-18