Practice of Organic Farming
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Do you want to know what it talks to produce food for yourself, your family, and others in your community? In the Practice of Organic Farming Program, students learn what it takes to grow food and feed yourself and others every day throughout the year? This three-quarter program will explore sustainable food production practices through an entire growing season, beginning in spring, through the summer and ending in the fall quarters), and how those practices are tailored for the Pacific Northwest climate in order to maximize production. Our focus will be on small-scale organic production, but we will compare and contrast that system to other production systems. This program focuses on the scientific underpinning of sustainable and organic food production, with an emphasis on theory to practice, 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, successional crop planning, 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 and field 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 The Market Gardener by Fortier, Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers by Theriault and Brisebois, Planning Workbook: Organic Whole Farm by Huelsman, and Building Soils for Better Crops 3rd ed. by Magdoff and van Es;
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 2018 to develop a financial aid plan that includes summer 2019.
This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:
farm and garden management; nonprofits focusing on food, land use, and agriculture; edible education; state and county extensions; and state and federal regulatory agencies.
Credits per quarter
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.
- Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
$300 for overnight field trips to visit Northwest regional farms and for farm work supplies.
Class Size: 30
25% Reserved for Freshmen
Scheduled for: Day
Final schedule and room assignments:
First meeting:Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - 9:00 am
Located in: Olympia