Female students working on the farm

Teaching

Students entering into the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture program share a common first year of core courses. During their first year, students are encouraged to discuss their future plans with staff and faculty to help them decide on one of the four majors, Organic Agriculture being one of them.

The Organic Agriculture major offers students an integrated approach to learning in the rapidly expanding world of organic agriculture. Courses encompass food production, food security, organic processing and marketing, environmental health and rural community sustainability. How various factors influence one another is considered in the design and operation of crop and livestock production systems that are socially responsible, ecologically sound, agronomically feasible and economically sustainable.

Research is a big part of teaching and our urban farm is a living laboratory for University of Guelph students across all faculties.

Keeping the dialogue open.

Students and young farmers are asked by the Farm Coordinator, Martha Gay, to share their thoughts on sustainable agriculture and this has become a powerful and ongoing conversation. The Guelph Center for Urban Organic Farming is an ideal space to discuss and debate methods of farming, while actually farming using organic methods. Everyone wins in this conversation.

Martin: Sustainable agriculture offers hope for a sustainable planet. For sustaining humanity on the planet. By creating a parallel system that works, when the conventional system fails, there will be something to switch over to. The infrastructure will be in place and it will be easy to switch over to it.

Emily: The Urban Organic Farm provides opportunities for cooperation amongst all the groups on campus. We can all come together and every single degree on campus can have a part in a sustainable activity, whether that is a part of this farm or just learning about sustainable practises and incorporating that into our schooling.

Beth: For me, sustainable agriculture is an interesting concept but it's hard for me to grasp. I believe there is agriculture as a business and agriculture as a hobby and those are two different things and I'm used to agriculture as a business. In terms of sustainable agriculture, I think that we can move toward a more ecological system but I can't see a completely sustainable system. But I'm open to the discussion.

Jarrett: I think that these days, everybody has become much more aware of resource scarcity and as the population continues to grow, and as the issue of climate change become more prevalent and starts affecting our day-to-day lives more, the scarcity of those resources is going to become more important. If we become more sustainable in our agricultural production through projects like the Urban Organic Farm and teaching other people to produce vegetables and increase local food security, and reduce the stress on the environment –– I think it's ultimately a step forward in a modern food system where everyone is fed.

Linkages to research, industry and sustainable practices.

The Chair in Sustainable Food Production at the University of Guelph, is Dr. Ralph Martin. Ralph leads the development of food and agriculture policy, with the end goal of improving the sustainability of agriculture and food production in Canada. He also co-ordinates researchers in agriculture and food production, and lead public- and private-sector collaborations.

Rows of lettuce and pepper plant blooms