Practice of Organic Farming: Culture and Agriculture (Summer In-Person)

Summer 2020 (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 2020 and ends in Fall 2020.

This three-quarter Program (spring, summer, and fall quarters) will explore the details of sustainable food production systems using the underlying sciences as a framework. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of agriculture, the various topical threads (botany, soils, horticulture, business, etc.) will be presented throughout all three quarters. Our focus will be on the scientific knowledge, critical thinking, and observation skills needed to grow healthy, nutrient-dense food using ecologically informed methods, along with the management and business skills appropriate for small-scale production.

We will be studying and working on the Evergreen Organic Farm through an entire growing season, seed propagation to harvest, and selling what they grew at the market. The farm includes a small-scale direct market stand, CSA, and a variety of other demonstration areas. During the Summer and Fall quarters, it is planned that all students will work on the farm every week to gain practical, experiential learning while practicing social distancing and wearing protective facemasks as required. We will use the Covid crisis to teach safe farming habits and closely related practices of food safety. 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.

During the summer quarter, the main topics covered will be techniques for measuring soil physical and chemical properties, quality and managing soil and plant available nutrients. Also, students will learn about crop rotation, water management, and irrigation system design, techniques for maximizing market and value-added opportunities, and related regulatory issues. The online academic portion of the Program supports and explains how to run and operate an organic, direct market farm successfully.

Topics will be explored through on-farm workshops, synchronous seminar discussions, lectures, and synchronous and asynchronous laboratory and field exercises. Expect regular reading and writing assignments, extensive collaborative group work, and when possible hands-on projects. 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) before 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 2019 to develop a financial aid plan that includes Summer 2020.


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 - 49% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.


Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 30

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 - 8:30 am

Located in: Olympia