The 20th Century Transformation of Modern U.S. Agriculture and Farm Policy
(2 credits)
Examination of social, economic, and ecological consequences of the modern, industrial agriculture paradigm. Topics include history of agriculture, worldviews, the sustainability concept, organic agriculture systems, world food systems, and local food systems. Discussion of global/U.S. history and its emerging growth of the organic industry. Overview of the USDA organic certification, and field management regulations. Practical problems surrounding organic sustainable production. Includes outside speakers.
Organic Certification I
§ 205.100 What Must be Certified
(2 credits)
USDA National Organic Program (NOP) standards relating to certified operations, inspection, certification processes, and labeling. Focus on the seeds, crops, processing, and livestock aspects of organic certification for farms and food manufacturing operations. Course includes recordkeeping and maintenance documentation in preparation annual auditor inspection.
Organic Certification II
§ 205.100: NOP Standards and Practices
Lab (1 credit)
Overview of how to create and practice documentation of an Organic System Plan. Designed to introduce sustainable and organic agriculture; definitions, concepts, principles; Governance of USDA National Organic Program standards and practices in the development of organic farm systems plan. Course includes recordkeeping and maintenance documentation in preparation annual auditor inspection.
Certified Organic Record Keeping
Lab (1 credit)
Certified Operation System Plans (OSP) must maintain records concerning the production, harvesting, and handling of agricultural products. Such records must be adapted to the business that the certified operation is conducting.  Includes discussion, reviews of sample documents required during Certified Inspectors visits — both scheduled and unannounced.
Farmers are required to disclose all activities and transactions of the certified operation in sufficient details to be understood during annual inspections. Students will practice completing OSP recordkeeping plans, accompanying forms and documentation required for annual third-party inspections, and review of online tools.
Seeds and Planting Stock Practices
Lab (1 credit)
The USDA organic regulations require organic growers to use organic seeds, annual seedlings, and planting stock. Organic seeds must be used unless they are not commercially available. Seeds may not be treated with prohibited substances. Genetically engineered varieties are prohibited. Course includes trips to local farms and guest speakers; record keeping and maintenance documentation in preparation of annual auditor inspection.
Sustainable Soil Management Standards and Practices
(2 credits)
Based on the USDA organic program food systems model.  A key focus of the class is viewing soil health as the basis for ecological land management and discussing management practices to conserve and improve soils. Emphasis on how essential nutrients affect plant growth and development and food production, including the inter-relationships between organic nutrients and soil fertility. Includes case studies to connect sustainable agriculture principles to actual farming practices. Course includes recordkeeping and maintenance documentation in preparation annual auditor inspection. Course includes trips to local farms and guest speakers.
Composting: Soil Building Practices
Lab (1 credit)
Composting is an important cornerstone of building healthy soils in organic agriculture production. The course covers composting processes, the role of microbes in thermophilic composting and a survey of a variety of composting methods.
Students will learn the applied science soil management in the lab setting, which emphasizes learning experientially how to build soil while and understand the soil nutrient, cover cropping systems, organic amendments. Students will study soil management that plans for two annual and perennial cropping systems and visits to local farms and guest speakers. Course includes recordkeeping and maintenance documentation in preparation of annual auditor inspection.
Prohibited and Allowed Substances
(1 credit)
To meet the USDA organic standards, farmers must show they aren’t using GMOs (seeds) and they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table. Discussions center on genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms as prohibited in organic products, and why organic farmers can’t plant GMO seeds, can’t feed organic cows GMO alfalfa or corn, and why organic seed producers are prohibited from any GMO ingredients. Course includes recordkeeping and maintenance documentation in preparation of annual auditor inspection.
FDA/USDA Food Safety and GAP Rules and Guidance
(1 credit)
Course is based on standards for the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce for human consumption.
Protocols on the farm, potential contamination avenues include contact with untreated manure used as a soil amendment, contaminated water, infected workers, or conditions in the field or packing facility such as unclean containers and tools used in harvesting and packing, and the presence of animals. It’s important that fresh-cut produce processors be aware of the conditions under which their fresh produce is grown, harvested, packed, and transported. Course includes Food Safety, GAP and OSP required recordkeeping and maintenance documenting, and FDA and NOP standards.
Introduction: Weed Management
(3 credits)
A comprehensive system of weed management that focuses on multiple tactics to reduce losses in both the short and long term. Weed management tactics fall into two major categories.
Cultural tactics are associated with enhancing crop growth or cover, while mechanical tactics are used to kill, injure, or bury weeds. During a cropping season, successful organic weed management will rely on the cultural tactics to achieve competitive crop plants and will use the mechanical tactics to reduce the weed population that emerges in the crop.
When a cash crop is not in the field, plant a cover crop or use an occasional shallow tillage to kill germinating and emerging weeds. Topics include cover cropping, and shallow/no tillage model; cover crop plantings to suppress weeds. Weed pest management must be an ongoing consideration for organic farmers to achieve acceptable yields and crop quality.
Course includes record keeping and maintenance documentation in preparation of annual inspection.
 Insects Disease and Nematodes Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Common Sense and Scientific principles
(2 credits)
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a broad thinking about pest management valuing knowledge about the pest’s habits, life cycle, needs and dislikes, using the least toxic methods first, up to and including organic-approved pesticides. In IPM, pesticides are used in combination with other crop management approaches to minimize the effects of pests while supporting a profitable system that has negligible negative effects. Topics include historical survey of pest management, IPM strategies, tactics and how their utilized in ecologically based management programs. Students will learn applied competence of specialized testing, label reading, safe handling, and storage practices. Includes OSP record keeping and maintenance documentation.
Farm Internship/ Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE)
(3 credits)
Through hands-on sustainable and organic farming experience and site visits to area farms, students will be immersed in the use of in ecologically based farm management techniques that apply key sustainable, organic agriculture concepts. Students will learn proper techniques for harvesting, postharvest handling, transplanting, seeding, weeding, crop cover methods, marketing, crop planning, seed and supply inventory, variety selection, OSP record keeping and documentation, and other aspects of diversified farm management and maintenance.