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Program Goals and Outcomes

The Organic Farmer Training Program is committed to preparing students to start and operate their own farms, manage existing farm businesses or non-profit farms, or work for other organizations promoting farm and food education and /or food production.

Topics that will be covered will include:

  • Soil & Fertility Management
  • Vegetable Production
    • Solanaceae (Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Potatoes)
    • Cucurbits (cucumbers, summer squash, winter squash, melons)
    • Brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, Asian Greens, etc)
    • Roots (beets, carrots, radishes, rutabaga, turnips)
    • Salad Crops (head lettuces, mixes, arugula, salanova)
    • Sweet Corn and Green Beans
    • Herbs
  • Tree Fruit & Small Fruits
  • Flower Production
  • Crop Planning & Scheduling
  • Organic Certification
  • Harvest & Post Harvest Handling and Food Safety
  • Transplant Production
  • Passive Solar Greenhouse Management and Production
  • Direct and Wholesale Marketing
  • Business & Farm Planning
    • Values and Goals
    • Marketing Plans
    • SWOT Analysis
    • Production Planning & Crop Rotation
    • Financial Planning
    • Capital Access
    • Land Access
    • Risk Management
    • Business Structures and Management
    • Enterprise Budgeting
  • Equipment Usage and Maintenance
  • Plant Biology for Farmers
  • Organic Weed Management
  • Organic Pest Management
  • Organic Disease Management
  • Agroecology
  • Irrigation
  • Cover Cropping

These topics will be taught through a mix of:

  • Hands-on activities
  • Farm walks
  • Classroom activities & discussions
  • Video lectures
  • Readings
  • Guest speakers
  • Visits to 20+ Michigan farms
  • Practical assignments, like writing a Farm Business Plan

Program Outcomes for participants completing the program:

  • Create a Farm Business Plan that fits your skills, interests, farmsite and markets.
  • Use information from the course and from other sources to make farm management and business decisions.
  • Build and improve hands-on farm skills on class days and through farm externships/farmwork outside of class time.
  • Be prepared to start and/or manage an organic farm, educational garden project or to work in farm and food advocacy issues. It is also a success to realize that you don’t want to farm.
  • Speak clearly about farm topics and your goals and growing methods for your current or future farm.
  • Establish connections to local, regional and national sustainable agriculture networks, job opportunities, conferences, and organizations
  • Receive a certificate of completion of the Organic Farmer Training Program from MSU’s Student Organic Farm, the Department of Horticulture and the Center for Regional Food Systems