Spring Semester (May 21 – June 29)
Instructor – Jennifer Santry
Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
This course explores the principles of sustainable agriculture for animal, crop, and garden production. We will study the ethical, practical and scientific aspects of agricultural sustainability including economic, social and environmental impacts of food and farming. We will use system thinking tools to compare industrial and ecological agriculture, and ultimately each student will develop a plan for a sustainable farming system based on personal and learned philosophies and forms.
In this introduction to sustainable agriculture, we’ll be delving into the essential production practices that will empower students to make a farm, homestead, or garden a reality or to make current agricultural endeavors more sustainable, efficient, and profitable. Students will learn sustainable theory and be able to apply this to the nuts and bolts of market gardens, food forests, livestock management, and farm finances.
Student Learning Objectives
Our goal by the end of this course is for students to:
- Define terminology and concepts related to sustainable farming practices.
- Describe the ecological, economical, and social implications of agricultural practices.
- Identify theories and forms of sustainable agriculture.
- Articulate principles and strategies of sustainable agriculture.
- Utilize a systems approach to analyze agriculture in your own backyard and/or community.
- Apply best practices for basic soil, crop, watershed, & livestock management.
- Identify resources for solving problems facing farmers, ranchers, gardeners, and consumers in order to reduce waste and energy consumption in agriculture.
- Describe strategies to increase profit and efficiency for sustainable producers.
- Design productive and ecologically sound land use plans.
- Expand consumer awareness and support of ethical alternatives.
Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers by Mark Shepard – ISBN 978-1601730350. Additionally, there will be various assigned readings posted to Blackboard for each weekly module.
Grades will be assessed as follows:
6 Discussions (“Food Blog”) 36 points
3 Online Activities 30 points
4 Quizzes 14 points
Final Project 20 points
TOTAL POINTS 100 points
Course Assessments: Each week’s assignments will be posted with details on Blackboard.
Online Discussions – “Food Blog”
|Each week’s module (videos, readings…) are expected to be completed before you participate in online discussions. Using our online forum, answer discussion questions and complete assignments by posting on the class “Food Blog.” Discussion posts are due Wednesday by midnight (5 points). Comment on at least one of your peer’s posts by Saturday at midnight (1 point).||36|
|Activities & Assignments||There will be three online activities or assignments in addition to weekly discussions. Each assignment will be detailed in Blackboard with a due date – 10 points each.
Assignment 1 – Farmer Interview
Assignment 2 – Case Study on Animal Management Systems
Assignment 3 – Case Study on Managing the Whole System
|There will be four online quizzes throughout the course that will assess your understanding of the course materials. Quiz questions will be taken directly from assigned readings, online presentations, and videos. Each quiz is worth 3.5 points.||14|
Sustainable Farm Management Plan: Presentation & Paper
|Design and present your own farm agro-ecosystem. Throughout the course, you’ll be working on milestones that will help you complete your final project for this course – a Sustainable Farm Management Plan. This plan is for a self-designed farm for your family, a business, or a nonprofit organization managing local food projects in your community. Again, the components of your plan will be developed week by week as we address each topic. Components will include: goals, a fertility management plan, use of animals, and marketing and budgeting. Your paper is worth 15 points and your presentation is worth 5 points.||20|
Course Outline and Weekly Topics:
- Module 1 (5/21 – 5/26): Introduction and Principles of Sustainable Agriculture
- Module 2 (5/27 – 6/2): Water, Energy, Soil and Plants
- Module 3 (6/3 – 6/9): Fertility, Animal Production Practices & Livestock Systems
- Module 4 (6/10 – 6/16): Organic Agriculture, Holistic Management, & Permaculture and Polyculture
- Module 5 (6/17 – 6/23): Restoration Agriculture, Biodynamic and Nature Farming, & Agroforestry and Agroecology
- Module 6 (6/24 – 6/29): Financial Planning, Value Added, & Ag Economics
Instructor Bio: Jen moved to the Olympic Peninsula in 2014 to start her own farmstead. She’s currently a full-time advisor at Peninsula College and teaches courses in the Sustainable Agriculture Certificate and Service Learning program. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 15 years as an environmental instructor, land and animal conservationist, and local food advocate. Jen graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in Zoology and minor in Anthropology. She completed her Masters in Nonprofit Management with an emphasis in environmental education from Regis University in 2007. As the former Community Programs Director at the High Country Conservation Center in Colorado, Jen spent six years developing sustainable food programs including community gardens, student-run CSAs, and urban farming policies.
This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program and will count toward the Associate of Science program. Online classes cost $482/credit. If you would like to register for the Certificate program, you may apply here.
NOTE: The UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate has been declared eligible for Veterans Educational Benefits. For instructions see: Veterans Benefits.
If you are not interested in earning college credit, there are many non-credited workshops and short courses you can take outside of the university. For a list see: non-university workshops and courses.