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Course Descriptions for the BA in Regenerative Organic Agriculture

Permaculture Design is a system for rethinking and redesigning of every aspect of human endeavor in terms of sustainability. As such, it is a cross-disciplinary design system that 2016/17 320 involves architecture and building, agriculture, energy, urban and city design, economics and livelihoods, water, and the aesthetic integration of all of these in human settlements. On successful completion of the course, students will receive an internationally recognized certificate. The basic principles of permaculture design were developed by integrating the observation of natural systems, traditional indigenous wisdom, and modern scientific and technological knowledge by David Holmgren and Bill Mollison. Through lecture, discussion, observation, field trips, hands-on learning, videos, slideshows, and handouts, students gain the practical skills and theoretical knowledge to design and implement sustainable systems in harmony with the natural world so participants can understand and apply these methods and skills to their home property and local community. Participants will learn principles and methodologies of sustainable design, how to read the landscape’s strategies and tools for urban and rural homesteads, food forests and orchards, greenhouse operation, natural building and alternative energy techniques. This is a foundation course for the entire Sustainable Living program. Lab fee: $65 (4 credits)
Ecology is often defined as the study of relationships between organisms and their living and nonliving environment. The term has become more generalized in recent years to refer to a set of interacting entities in an environment. These entities could be thoughts, technologies, beliefs, organisms, pollutants, or mountains and the environment could be an individual mind, community, society, organism, planet, culture, or meadow. This more generalized notion of ecology opens us up to understand ecology as something that exists in the universe rather than just a lens or set of questions through which we gain knowledge of the world. In this course, students will learn about fundamental ecological concepts, including niche, habitat, community, ecosystem, biomes, biosphere; population ecology; species interactions; energy flows; nutrient cycling; and succession. Lab fee: $65. Prerequisites: SL-G100 (CCTS) or consent of the instructor (4 credits)
Regenerative organic farming practices using locally available resources. Students will learn basic botany related to seed production and different types of seeds, such as heirloom, hybrids, and genetically modified seeds. They will also learn farm layout and land preparation, methods of planting, plant care, and soil and nutrient management. There will be fieldwork sessions on planting systems and irrigation methods. Other topics include strategies for building soil organic matter, composting, basic entomology, low-cost pest management methods, and using “weeds” to support farm crops. (4 credits)
Soil is one of the most complex ecosystems, with a diversity of habitats that differ from place to place. Even within a farm no two soil patches are the same. This course will help to understand soil formation, soil physics, chemistry and biology, nutrient cycles and flows, and managing high quality soils. (4 credits)
This course will acquaint students with the observational approach required to prepare their fields, and to begin planting. Students will observe variables such as soil temperature, air temperature, moisture, the condition of planting areas and condition of seeds/transplants. At this time, cultural practices such as soil testing, soil amending, tillage, bed preparation, row cover/low tunnel installation, fertilization and irrigation installation, with an emphasis on timely implementation, will also be covered. Students will be seeding in the greenhouse during this time. Prerequisites: SL-A202 and SL-A340 (3 credits)
Students will be learning and applying the basics of caring for crops in the greenhouse and transplanting the seedlings into their fields. Succession planting will be highlighted as cold season crops will be direct seeded in successions, and warm-season crop successions will be seeded in the greenhouse for transplanting at a later date. Students will be utilizing and fine-tuning their crop plans during this block, which will yield group plans for additional plots of crops such as sweet corn and melons. Prerequisite: SL-A341 (3 credits)
Students will continue transplanting and direct seeding crops. They will also be exposed to methods of pest scouting and weed management. Daily field surveys will take place with specific guidelines on how to inspect each crop, and cultural weed management strategies will be demonstrated and implemented. Students will also be taught how to keep proper harvest records to comply with the National Organic Program (NOP). The roadside stand will open this month and students will alternate managing the stand.  This will include managing inventory numbers, money, and customer interactions. Prerequisite: SL-A342 (3 credits)
This month will focus heavily on harvest and post-harvest efficiencies, including cleaning and storage. Importance of packing shed efficiency and flow will also be highlighted. Students will be preparing succession plantings and cover crops as spring crops begin to be terminated. Students will also be marketing crops at the farmers market, roadside stand, and the university cafeteria. Prerequisite: SL-A343 (3 credits)
Students will start focusing on planting cold season crops such as spinach, kale, carrots and beets. Students will also be exposed to season extension methods like row covers, low tunnels, high tunnels, greenhouses, cold frames, and mulching. Prerequisite: SL-A344 (3 credits)
Students will be learning how to properly store long-term storage crops like cabbage, potatoes, winter squash and pumpkins, through the winter to ensure income during the cold season months. They will learn methods for overwintering fields and will be getting ready to go to internships. Prerequisite: SL-A345 (3 credits)
This course will aid students in the development of a holistic understanding of the farm in the context of the evolution of human life on planet earth. Many students learn Transcendental Meditation during this course, and therefore one aspect of the course focuses on the stabilization of correct practice. At the same time, as students learn, or continue, their Transcendental Meditation practice, they also learn unifying principles of consciousness which allow them to see connections between their own inner life and the life of the farm and their society—which relies on low-cost, high-quality food. Topics include: theories of agriculture (including organic regenerative agriculture), history of agriculture, future of sustainable agriculture, the soil food web, the farm as an organism, unifying principles of consciousness. (2 credits) Prerequisite for undergraduates: FOR 103
In this block students will connect the deep experience of Transcendental Consciousness to regenerative organic agriculture practices. The eight stages of plant growth will be understood as a manifestation of the five elements, as well as mind, intellect, and ego. Students will experience how Vedic recitations by trained Maharishi Vedic Pandits can enliven these eight stages in a plant to produce food that represents Brahman or totality. Students will harvest crops and gain experience in marketing them at different locations. (2 credits) Prerequisite for undergraduates: FOR 103
Students will have the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge related to sustainability in real-world situations while earning academic credit. Up to 16 credits of internship can be applied towards the degree. (12 credits)