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Course Descriptions

SFS 1011: Fundamentals of Organic Agriculture
An introduction to the history, ethics, and fundamental principles of the organic agriculture movement and its relationship to sustainable food, fiber, and seed production. This course will examine the biological, economic and ethical dimensions of designing a small farm or market-based garden system. Concepts covered will include garden design and rotation, seed selection, plant morphology, soil structure and composition, seedling production, transplanting, season extension, diseases and pests, harvest methods, and marketing.
3 credits

SFS 1075: Farming Skills Intensive
Many components of an integrated farm system draw on a specialized skill set and body of knowledge and are best learned in an intensive setting that combines theory and practice. This course will immerse students in a particular aspect of sustainable farming. Students will work with agricultural faculty and agricultural practitioners, generally in the field or at the practitioner’s operation, to explore and apply the theory and knowledge regarding the topic at hand in a workshop format. Potential topics include greenhouse management, plant propagation, winter farming, draft animal driving and training, and draft animal utilization. (Note: Topics with sufficient depth and demand will be presented in a two course series, e.g. season extension design and season extension crop management.)
1 credit

SFS 1211: Introduction to Cerridwen Farm
Students in this course will be responsible for one morning chore shift a week at Cerridwen farm (~2 hrs/week). This will include helping with vegetable management in season (cultivating, harvesting, processing) as well as animal management and care—feeding, cleaning, and moving animals, gathering eggs, milking the cow, etc. In addition, all farm hands will meet for one hour a week with the farm manager to discuss and learn about various aspects of managing Cerridwen Farm.
1 credit

SFS 2002: Food Preservation
Throughout most of human history, domestic-scale food preservation has been of vital significance. Today, as an alternative to industrially processed products, small-scale food preservation can play an integral role in sustaining locally based food systems. This course gives students the opportunity to investigate the history, theory, and practice of such traditional means of food preservation as lactic fermentation, pickling, drying, salting, and root cellar storage of seasonal products, such as fish, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Students will learn the fundamentals of preservation processes through hands-on in-class and field-based activities and experiences, and, in particular, work in collaboration with Green Mountain College’s Cerridwen Farm in doing group projects demonstrating principles of food preservation with portions of the fall season’s harvest. The course will survey the history and diversity of food preservation practices and technologies that have evolved in response to the problems of place (tropical vs. temperate), and scale (home use vs. market commodity). It will explore different processes, ranging from ancient techniques to more modern methods, for preserving a diversity of local products and investigate how they were preserved in different types of traditional food systems (hunting-gathering, pastoral, and farming).
3 credits

SFS 2060: Biodiversity Issues in Agriculture: Seeds & Trees
This course will take a comparative approach to understanding the role of biodiversity in agriculture using cultural, biological, and geographic perspectives. It will cover the emergence and diffusion of crop diversity in different traditional agricultural systems, and trace the erosion of this heritage with the rise of scientific breeding and industrial agriculture. We will also investigate a range of contemporary agrobiodiversity issues: ex situ vs. in situ conservation, participatory breeding, global policy, the threat of GM (genetically modified) crops, and the relationship between biological and cultural diversity.
3 credits

SFS 2061: Biodiversity Issues in Agriculture--Livestock
A diverse array of livestock breeds are disappearing across the globe at alarming rates. The landscapes, management practices, and cultural traditions associated with these livestock are also threatened. The remaining predominate breeds suffer from perilous genetic erosion. This course will examine the conservation strategies and issues surrounding rare breeds of livestock in the U.S. and abroad.
3 credits

SFS 2067: Animal Husbandry
Appropriate animal husbandry is a critical economic, ecological, and ethical element of farming. This course will provide an overview of basic physiological processes and needs of common livestock species, with an emphasis on management techniques that can help maximize livestock health and minimize veterinary investments and interventions.
3 credits

SFS 2070: Sustainable Regional Food Systems
In this interdisciplinary course students will be challenged to conceptualize and present evidence found in our region of a sustainable regional food system, while also researching and describing alternative modes of production, distribution, and consumption that can enhance the viability of the current system. Students’ direct participation in GMC’s Cerridwen Farm will enable them to experience the challenges and realities of consuming foods they produce, process, and prepare from field to fork. This course will also investigate other field sites of our regional food system, exploring the social context and cultural values (including nutrition models) motivating consumption of locally produced and processed food products. Our evaluation and analysis of these factors will be informed by critical readings of current literature addressing sustainable food systems issues from the theoretical and practical perspectives.
3 credits

SFS 2073: Appropriate Technologies in Agriculture
Students will be expected to work 5 hours on the farm plus taking a share in daily chores (max. 2 hours a week). In addition, they will spend 6 to 9 hours a week in curricular activities as outlined below. The course will feature experiential learning and independent study and research in addition to an average of 4 contact hours each week, equivalent to a standard 15-week term’s contact hours.
3 credits

SFS 3020: Food and Agriculture Policy
This course will provide an introduction to federal and state policies that influence the farm and food system and affect the adoption and practice of sustainable agriculture. Federal policy areas to be examined include the federal farm bill (particularly those parts of it that affect commodity prices and farm income), environmental regulation of animal agriculture, food safety, and the regulation of organic farming. Among state policy issues to be examined are water rights and land conservation. Both federal and state policies affecting local and regional food systems will be discussed.
3 credits

SFS 3022: Food Safety
Is food safe? This is a question which has been raised by the public with increasing frequency over the past several years. Whether the subject is meat, dairy, eggs, fruit/vegetables, or seafood, the answer is no less urgent for the producer as it is for the consumer. This course begins with an exploration of the scope of the subject, touching upon the recent history of foodborne diseases, environmental influences and food security. Then, an introduction to microbiology and toxicology begins a survey of the common pathogens and toxins in various food groups. The emphasis will be on the role of farm management. In the last section, with the help of guest lecturers, the answer to the question of food safety will emerge from principles of “best practice” for the small and medium scale farmer as well as for the consumer.
3 credits
SFS 3040: Composting & Organic Waste Management
This course on organic waste management will focus on aerobic composting, vermiculture, and anaerobic digestion. It addresses the history of organic waste management in the US, both on farms and in municipalities. This comprehensive introduction to farm and non-farm based organic feedstock management will address several key topics in this growing industry: the increasingly important role of organics diversion, management systems at different scales, Best Management Practices, the role of composing in current and future farm systems, soil health benefits, associated environmental remediation projects, and the evolving regulatory approaches to organic waste management practices.
Prerequisites: None, but previous coursework in sustainable agriculture, natural resources management, and/or environmental policy is strongly recommended.
3 credits

SFS 3052: Advanced Organic Agriculture
The economically-successful and ecologically-sustainable management of agroecosystems requires knowledge from multiple disciplines including botany, soil ecology, plant ecology, entomology, marketing, and small business management. Students will delve into all of these fields as they survey the theory and practice of cutting-edge organic vegetable production and marketing techniques including soil management, plant propagation, pest management, season extension, and direct marketing. Particular emphasis will be placed on planning, observation, and record-keeping with a constant eye on economic efficiency. Prerequisites: SFS 1011 Fundamentals of Organic Agriculture, or permission of instructor.
3 credits

SFS 3054: Sustainable Farming Systems
“Sustainable agriculture” tends to progress from scientific/ecological theories to a set of guiding principles to on-farm applications to evaluations of economic viability. These sets of guiding principles generally evolve into systematic approaches to agriculture and how some farmers in our region have utilized these systems in farm design and practice. Systems studied will include holistic farm management, grass-based farming, Amish systems, agroforestry, and permaculture. Students will spend extensive time on an assigned farm and will design an agriculturally-based campus land use model.
3 credits

SFS 3057: Advanced Topics in Sustainable Agriculture
This course will teach the application of systems theory and systems thinking to the challenge of understanding and designing farm systems. Students will learn how to develop conceptual and analytical models of various components of a farm system including crops and other plants, insects, soil nutrients, energy, marketing strategies, and various farm technologies. Such models will be integrated in the development of a systems model for Cerridwen farm.
3 credits

SFS/HIS 3058: A History of Agriculture: Civilizations, Technology & the Environment
Understanding how previous agricultural methods and technologies have impacted humans and the environment is critical to determining the best methods and technologies for contemporary agriculture—approaches that can best feed human populations while ameliorating the environment. Beginning with an overview of the evolution of agriculture, the course will then focus on the historical development of agriculture in the U.S., with an emphasis on soils, technologies, and on-farm practices.
3 credits

SFS 3070: Integrated Farming Systems
Students will be expected to work 5 hours on the farm plus taking a share in daily chores (max. 2 hours a week). In addition, they will spend 6 to 9 hours a week in curricular activities as outlined below. The course will feature experiential learning and independent study and research in addition to an average of 4 contact hours each week, equivalent to a standard 15-week term’s contact hours.
3 credits

SFS 3200: Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture
This course is an opportunity for students to participate the technical aspects of agricultural production, including fieldwork, planning, and/or analysis. Students will be required to complete 90 hours of work and consultation with a qualified agricultural practitioner as well as complete background readings and written assignments. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.
1-3 credits

SFS 4054: Agroecology
Agroecology is the application of ecological theory to farms as ecosystems. It is also an approach to the sustainable management of farm systems that has arisen out of the perspective of crop and livestock systems as ecosystems. This course will review the theoretical and practical underpinnings of agroecology and teach the fundamentals of an agroecological approach to farming. In particular, it will teach students how to collect and analyze ecological data within the context of a working farm and use this information to develop more sustainable practices.
3 credits

SFS 4095: Brunnenburg Internship
This intensive international internship provides competitively selected students with the opportunity to live and work at Brunnenburg Castle & Agricultural Museum, including experience in vineyards, orchards, a living history museum, and rare breed conservation. Students are selected for this experience on a competitive basis.
3-6 credits


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