Practice of Organic Farming: Culture and Agriculture

Summer 2019 (Full Session)
Class Size: 30
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

David Muehleisen
sustainable agriculture, entomology

Note: this is the second quarter of a program starting Spring 2019 and ends in Fall 2019.

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 the 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.

Summer quarter the main topics will be soil quality and nutrient management, disease and pest management that includes entomology, plant pathology, and weed biology. In addition, we will study water management, irrigation system design, techniques for maximizing market and value-added opportunities, and regulatory issues. Fall's focus will be on farm and conservation 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, as well as 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 conservation plan, that integrates all the topics covered in the program. Books may include The Market Gardener by Fortier, and  Building Soils for Better Crops  3rd ed. by Magdoff and van Es.

Students who need to request disability accommodation should contact the faculty or Access Services Program Coordinator  Steve Schmidt  (L2153, 360.867.6348; or 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 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; working with nonprofit organizations focusing on food, land use, and agriculture; edible education; state and county extensions; and state and federal regulatory agencies.


Credits per quarter


Students must have taken high school algebra, biology, and chemistry. They should possess good communication skills and the ability/willingness to adhere to a structured work schedule. They also should be able to follow detailed directions in a work environment, and resolve conflicts in a group setting.

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

$300 in spring, $300 in summer, and $475 in fall for overnight field trips and supplies.

Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 30

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - 8:00 am
SAL 102 - Food Safe Lab

Advertised schedule:

Classes meet Tue, Wed, Thu, 9 am - 4:30 pm and Friday 9 am - 1 pm. During the week students must be available for farm chores before and after class. Details to be worked out in class.

Located in: Olympia