Practice of Organic Farming: Entrepreneurial Culture and Agriculture
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What does it take to run a farm business and market food to feed yourself and your community? Why are there fewer farmers, even as movements intensify for local food, Slow Food, community-supported agriculture, and food sovereignty? Do foods with labels such as organic, heirloom, local, free exchange, or terroir-laden have a taste you can savor? How are foods affected by how you care for your soil and the practices you use to grow them?
This three-quarter program (spring, summer, and fall) will explore organic food production systems using the three pillars of sustainability—economic, environmental, and social justice. We will focus on small-scale organic production, but will compare and contrast it to other production systems. We will cover the scientific and cultural underpinnings of sustainable and organic food production to develop the critical thinking and observation skills necessary to grow food using ecologically informed methods. 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 other demonstration areas. All students will work on the farm every week to gain practical, experiential learning. Students will reflect on this work in field journals and discuss agrarian literature in seminar. This program is rigorous physically and academically and requires a willingness to work both outside in adverse weather and on a schedule determined by the needs of crops and animals.
During spring 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 water management, disease, and weed and insect pest management. Additional topics will include irrigation system design, maximizing market and value-added opportunities, and regulatory issues. Fall's focus will be on farm and business planning, crop physiology, storage techniques, seed-saving practices, and cover crops. Throughout the program, students will learn record-keeping practices, alternative crop-production systems, techniques for adding value to farm products, hand-tool use and maintenance and farm equipment safety.
Topics will be explored through on-farm workshops, seminar discussions, lectures, laboratory exercises, and field trips. The fall final project will be a detailed farm and business plan that integrates all the topics covered in the program. Books might include The Market Gardener by Fortier, Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers by Theriault and Brisebois, and Farm to Table by Benjamin and Virkler.
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.
This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:
farm and garden management; nonprofits focusing on food, land use, food justice, 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.
- Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.
$335 in spring, $300 in summer, and $495 in fall for overnight field trips and supplies.
Class Size: 30
25% Reserved for Freshmen
Scheduled for: Day
Located in: Olympia
May be offered again in: