Sustainable Agriculture

STOCKSCH 165 – Intro to Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

3 credits

How to Enroll

Instructor – Jennifer Santry
Contact –

Cell: 970-389-8128 (available by text or by appointment)

Course Description – This course explores the principles of sustainable agriculture for animal, crop, and garden production. We will study the ethical, practical and scientific aspects of agricultural sustainability including economic, social and environmental impacts of food and farming. We will use system thinking tools to compare industrial and ecological agriculture, and ultimately each student will develop a plan for a sustainable farming system based on personal and learned philosophies and forms.

In this introduction to sustainable agriculture, we’ll be delving into the essential production practices that will empower students to make a farm, homestead, or garden a reality or to make current agricultural endeavors more sustainable, efficient, and profitable. Students will learn sustainable theory and be able to apply this to the nuts and bolts of market gardens, food forests, livestock management, and farm finances.

Instructor Bio: Jen Santry is a citizen of Choctaw Nation and Sicangu Lakota, Mdewakanton Dakota, and Yankton Dakota. She has been involved in food advocacy and education for the last 20 years. Jen has a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management and a BS in Zoology. In June 2023, she is completing her doctorate in Educational Sustainability at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Through Lakota stories and relationships with food, she is collaboratively addressing the need for cultural preservation and land-based knowledge in sustainable agriculture education. Jen has been teaching in higher education for 10 years. She is an online instructor for the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Certificate program at Peninsula College. She also teaches STOCKSCH 354 Nonprofit Management for Community Food and Farming Programs during Winter term. She is dedicated to decolonizing permaculture and regenerative agriculture.  In addition to teaching, she is the Indigenous Education Liaison for the Santa Fe-based nonprofit Climate Advocates Voces Unidas (CAVU) where she is collaborating with Northern New Mexico Pueblo communities in addressing climate change through Native youth engagement in education, storytelling, and video production. Jen is an avid beekeeper, gardener, seed saver, and proud mom of two wild boys.

 Student Learning Objectives –

Our goal by the end of this course is for students to:

  1. Define terminology and concepts related to sustainable farming practices.
  2. Describe the ecological, economical, and social implications of agricultural practices.
  3. Identify theories and forms of sustainable agriculture.
  4. Articulate principles and strategies of sustainable agriculture.
  5. Utilize a systems approach to analyze agriculture in your own backyard and/or community.
  6. Apply best practices for basic soil, crop, watershed, & livestock management.
  7. Identify resources for solving problems facing farmers, ranchers, gardeners, and consumers in order to reduce waste and energy consumption in agriculture.
  8. Describe strategies to increase profit and efficiency for sustainable producers.
  9. Design productive and ecologically sound land use plans.
  10. Expand consumer awareness and support of ethical alternatives.

Course Book – Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers by Mark Shepard – ISBN 978-1601730350. Additionally, there will be various assigned readings posted to Blackboard for each weekly module.

Accommodation Policy Statement: The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to providing an equal educational opportunity for all students. If you have a documented physical, psychological, or learning disability on file with Disability Services (DS), Learning Disabilities Support Services (LDSS), or Psychological Disabilities Services (PDS), you may be eligible for reasonable academic accommodations to help you succeed in this course. If you have a documented disability that requires an accommodation, please notify me within the first two weeks of the semester so that we may make appropriate arrangements.

Grades will be assessed as follows:

9 Online Discussions (“Food Blog”) 360 points
2 Online Assignments                       300 points
4 Quizzes                                               140 points
Final Project                                        200 points

TOTAL POINTS                                    1,000 points

Course Assessments: Each week’s assignments will be posted with details on Blackboard.

Course Outline and Weekly Topics:

Students are responsible for completing weekly modules including assigned readings, videos, presentations, and other assignments. Please refer to Blackboard for details and due dates.

This class fulfills requirements for all three of the online programs offered by the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture in Sustainable Food and Farming:

More Online Classes

NOTE: The UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate has been declared eligible for Veterans Educational Benefits. For instructions see: Veterans Benefits.

If you are not interested in earning college credit, there are many non-credited workshops and short courses you can take outside of the university.  For a list see: non-university workshops and courses.

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