CSS 224: Sustainable Farm & Food System Field Course

This is a 1-credit experiential field course, exploring interdisciplinary approaches to analyzing Michigan’s agricultural and food system operations that are working to achieve greater sustainability. The course emphasizes field visits, with a few campus class meetings to prepare for and process after field visits.

See what SAFS Field Visits have to offer!


This class can fill up, so enroll early! Contact the SAFS advisor for course, enrollment, or accessibility questions. We accommodate students of all abilities, and can do this best with plenty of time to plan.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand multiple farm and food system elements, including agronomic, economic, social, labor, policy and scale factors that affect choices
  • Interact with farmers and food system professionals to better understand the opportunities and constraints of their businesses
  • Engage in discourse about agriculture and food systems, especially regarding sustainability factors and the resilience of the individual ans system actors
  • Recognize the strengths and shortcomings of different approaches to studying and analyzing agriculture and food systems

Course Design

Due to COVID concerns, we will have two field trips this year, and several farmer and food system panels. We will also have opportunities to visit local farmer's markets.

We will have two full-day farm field trips, one partial-day food system field trip.

We will leave in the morning from campus, and return by 6pm for full field trip days.

On the days where we will be outdoors, please dress appropriately for Michigan’s unpredictable weather and the venues of the day. You may want to bring money for products available at farmers markets. We encourage mask wearing outdoors, and will respect any requests for masks when visiting farms or food system entities.

We have required preparation as well as course discussion and assignments after trips and panels. We'll have two student discussions after our experiential learning to help students unpack and share experiences, answer questions and resolve areas of confusion

Meeting Times

2021 Field Trip dates (tentative - subject to update): SATURDAY Sept. 18th 9 AM - 1 PM

FRIDAYS Sept. 3, 10 (outdoors on campus), 17, 24, and Oct. 1, 8, 15, & 22nd 3:30-5pm

Class will officially end by Oct. 31

Materials and Fees

Reading Materials

Background on the farm and food system sites we visit and any additional materials will be posted on the D2L site.


Please contact the SAFS advisor with any concerns you may have, and we will work to accommodate you to our greatest ability. Please understand that we will be visiting farms and facilities that may not fall under the ADA. While we may be limited in ability to modify accessibility at times during the field trips, we have and will continue to make as many opportunities available as possible.


Field trips will include two full Saturday visits to eight farms in Michigan, a partial day visit to food system sites such as food distributors and processors, and retail site visits on your own.

Reflections after each field trip will be shared with the class via the D2L discussion board. Students are expected to post and respond to other students.

Course Meetings will be held to prepare, process, and discuss questions and insights gained during the field trips

Blogs reviewing a student-selected topic related to each field visit allow you to explore an area of interest.


This rubric is subject to change if field visits or panel meets must be cancelled. We will do our very best to maximize student experiences.

Course Evaluation CriterionPoints
Attendance, Participation and Professionalism in field visits  
- Field Trip 1 - what does sustainable agriculture mean? 100 points
- Field Trip 2 - Farm and food system walking tour 100 points
- Field Trip 3 - Farmers Markets visit 100 points
- Farmer Panel Attendance & Participation (3 -Zoom) 300 points
- Course prep meeting & student discussion submissions and participation 150 points
- Field Trip & Panel Discussion Forum Reflections - on D2L (6) 300 points
- Final Video Reflection 100 points
Total Possible Points