STOCKSCH 258 – Urban Agriculture ONLINE

URBANAGUrban Agriculture

Innovative Farming Systems for the 21st Century

STOCKSCH 258 – 3 credits

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

To be scheduled….

Course Overview: Students will discover a wide range of urban farm designs and practices, learn how to evaluate their impacts, and understand urban farms as complex, adaptable, living systems that enrich life within cities. Students will conduct independent investigations of an urban farm of their choice guided by an interdisciplinary research method, which fosters understanding of how to participate and innovate from a variety of social and professional roles within Urban Agriculture. Weekly group discussions, readings and films will engage students in thinking and writing about contemporary issues and popular concerns related to Urban Agriculture.

Learning Objectives:

  1.  To learn about the origins and driving forces of urban agriculture and why it is needed in the context of current events and contemporary issues.
  2. To understand urban farms as complicated, dynamic systems with a range of outcomes and benefits.
  3. To practice critical thinking, scholarly research and writing, and communication skills in an online classroom.


  1.  Attendance and participation 55% – Students are expected to complete readings and videos, participate in class discussions, conduct independent research, and submit research papers every week. This course utilizes open-source media and information, which requires that students utilize web and library resources as instructed. Readings and videos provide an overview of the subject and prompt meaningful and relevant class discussions. The discussions are a place for the class to meet and interact, ask and respond to questions, learn from others’ perspectives, and receive feedback and support with the individual research component. The quality and quantity of student’s participation in class dialogue are evaluated for credit.
  1. Research Paper 45% – Students will choose a real-life urban farm (case study) or a general topic within the subject of Urban Agriculture. Aided by research methods developed by the instructor and a custom Urban Ag subject guide in the UMass library database, students will gather and synthesize information and scholarly literature, and work toward conclusive findings on urban agriculture’s role and impact on contemporary issues, locally and globally.

Major Products

Research Paper – Students have the option to conduct case study research or topical research. The Case Study research paper clearly presents farm system analysis and assessment achieved with the research methods provided and conclusive findings with references to articles from the web and library databases. The topical research paper clearly presents a discussion of the topic and conclusive findings that integrate current research and evidence from related disciplines. Conclusive findings can be a) recommendations for improving the performance of an urban farm (case study research), b) for addressing a particular issue (topical research), c) a replicable model for implementing a new urban farm d) a strategy or plan for launching a professional urban agriculture project. A list of references will be required.


All required reading assignments will be made available through the online class blackboard system.

Suggested Texts (not required)

  • Gottlieb, Robert. Environmentalism Unbound., 2002.
  • Holmgren, David. Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond sustainability, 2002.
  • Jacke, Dave. Edible Forest Gardens, 2005.
  • Viljoen, Andre, et al. Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes. Oxford: Architectural, 2005.
  • De la Salle, Janine. Agricultural Urbanism: Handbook for Building Sustainable Food Systems in 21st Century Cities, 2010
  • Fox, Thomas J. Urban Farming: Sustainable City Living in Your Backyard, in Your Community, and in the World” BowTie Press, 2011
  • Reich, Lee, Weedless Gardening, 2001, & Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, 2004
  • Smith, J. Russell, Tree Crops for a Permanent Agriculture, 1929

For information contact Helena Farrell at



Other classes offered this winter are:

STOCKSCH 100 – Botany for Gardeners (GenEd-BS; 4 credits)

STOCKSCH 197 A – Backyard Homesteading (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 355 – Community Food Systems  (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 397 ES – Exploring Success in Sustainability: Creating Community Based Enterprises (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 397NP – Non-profit Management for Community Food Programs  (3 credits)

These classes are part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Series.  A UMass Certificate may be earned by the successful completion of 15 credits of approved courses in this series.  For information, contact Dr. John M. Gerber at;

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