Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1. Discuss the benefits of sustainable food production.
2. Describe the primary strategies for achieving a sustainable operation.
3. Summarize the series of steps involved in the organic certification process, according to national guidelines.
4. Describe methods for building soil fertility.
5. Test and analyze characteristics of representative soil samples.
6. Compare and contrast the major types of composting and their methods of production.
7. Assess the needs for and timing of compost applications in various crops.
8. Develop a companion planting plan for a crop or garden.
9. Define and discuss the role of crop rotations.
10. Design effective crop rotations for vegetables, fruits and herbs.
11. List and discuss major vegetables, fruits, flower, and herbs produced organically.
12. Determine pest pressure and apply appropriate integrated pest management (IPM) treatments.
13. Outline simple steps every gardener can take to increase beneficial insect populations.
14. Summarize direct and indirect marketing approaches to organic crop sales.
15. Analyze and discuss the economic and career outlook for organic food production.
I. Introduction to Organic Gardening and Sustainable Food Production
1. Purpose and philosophy
3. Sustainable practices
B. Comparative food systems
1. Sustainable food systems
2. Traditional systems
3. Industrial systems
4. Organic systems
C. Benefits of sustainable food systems
1. Locally appropriate production
2. Enhanced bio-Diversity
3. Improved soil fertility
4. Environmental health
5. Social equity
6. Economic viability
D. Organic certification basics
1. The National Organic Program (NOP)
2. Accredited certifying agencies
II. Sustainable Soil Fertility
A. Physical characteristics of soil
3. Organic matter
B. Soil fertility
1. Plant Nutrition
c. Availability of nutrients
2. The Role of Microorganisms
C. Building soil fertility
a. Define compost
b. Purpose of composting
c. Key ingredients in composting
d. Evaluation of raw materials
e. Factors influencing decomposition
f. Composting systems
3. warm composting
4. worm composting
g. Composting resources
2. Compost application
D. Amending the soil
E. Cover crops
1. Seed in cover crops
2. Cover crops for annual systems
F. Green manures
G. Foliar sprays
III. Garden Bed Preparation
C. Bed preparation
1. Soil and water relationships
2. Comparison of various irrigation systems
IV. Garden Designs
A. Planning and designing a garden
1. Crop selection
2. Site selection
3. Site Maps
4. Soil Surveys
6. Light, Sun and Warmth
7. General Climate / microclimates
8. Growing Season
9. Frost Dates
B. Companion plants
2. Examples of effective companion planting
C. Size and layout
1. Raised beds
2. Tunnels and trellises
D. Planning and Production
1. Crop Data Sheets
3). cultural methods
4). special growing conditions
2. Estimated Harvests
3. Seed Sources
4. Timing and Scheduling
E. Planting Techniques
1. Greenhouse, cold frames and other season extenders
2. Soil temperature germination
3. Nutrient availability for germination
4. Field conditions
5. Bed making
8. Direct sow
F. Starting Plants
H. Crop Rotation
V. Integrated Pest Management
1. Biological control versus chemical control
2. Preventative versus acute remediation
3. Broad spectrum versus targeted
4. Least toxic solutions
5. Beneficial insects
B. Common Pests and Weeds
C. Common Weeds of Sonoma County
D. Natural Methods of Common Pest and Weed Prevention
E. Comparative Methods of Pest Control
B. Medicinal and culinary herbs
C. Edible and cut flowers
VII. Harvesting the Crop
A. When to harvest
B. How to harvest
C. Sequence of harvest
D. Post harvest crop storage
A. Contract marketing (community support agriculture)
B. Farm Trails
D. Industry partnerships
IX. Economics and Careers
A. Current economic outlook for organic production
1. USDA Outlook
2. California Developments
3. Sonoma County
B. Career outlook
C. Marketing and Sales
California Master Gardener's Handbook, by Pittenger, Dennis R. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Publication 3382, 2002.
Gardener's Table, by Richard Merrill and Joe Ortiz. Ten Speed Press, 2000.
Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-up to Marketing, by Vernon Grubinger, NRAES, 1999. (classic in field)
Golden Gate Gardening, by Pam Pierce. Sasquatch Books, 1998. (classic in field)