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HORT 3131: Student Organic Farm Planning, Growing, and Marketing

Prerequisites: HORT 1001, AGRO 1101, AGRO 1103, BIOL 1009, or instructor consent 
Credits: 3
Typically Offered: Fall Semester

DescriptionOrganic fruit and vegetable production has been one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy for well over a decade, stimulating an overwhelming number of biological and ecological innovations to produce food using organic approaches. This course aims to increase your knowledge of ecological concepts as applied to managing organic systems, with an emphasis on soil nutrient cycles and plant-soil-microbe interactions that serve as the cornerstone of organic systems.

This course consists of two components: a classroom session two times each week for 50 minutes, and a laboratory session for two hours. 

The classroom session is designed to help us think about concepts and principles that are useful in planning and managing production strategies on organic farms. We will learn about successful marketing strategies for organic produce, and spend a significant amount of our time review soil nutrient cycling and its critical importance for organic farms. We will also learn how to use soil and organic nutrient inputs such as cover crops, manure and fertilizers, to provide vegetable crops with the nutrients they need to grow. Finally, near the end of the semester we will discuss pest management, including both weeds and disease/insect pests, and compare different tillage and irrigation options available to organic producers. Throughout, we will use case studies, guest speakers, games, and active learning discussion approaches to move these classroom sessions ‘beyond the lecture’ and allow you to engage with the material in a meaningful way. 

The lab is designed to allow you a space to put into action some of the concepts you learn in lecture, including soil organic matter analysis, microgreen propagation, calculation of organic fertilizer rates, operation of a walk-behind tractor used on many organic farms, and more!

We look forward to having you in class!

Professor: Julie Grossman

Hundreds of vegetables are grown in the greenhouse 
prior to planting on the student organic farm

Students transplanting vegetable starts into the field