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Teaching the Next Generation of Organic Farmers
Alex Steffen, 15 Jul 06

Washington State University is offering the first organic farming major at an American university. Given the importance of ag schools in sculpting North American farming practices, this is a watershed moment:

Julie Sullivan loves to eat — especially organic food. Growing up in Olympia, though, she never thought much about where that food came from. Now she's a pioneer in a Washington State University effort to train students about organic agriculture. She's the assistant manager of WSU's community-supported organic farm just outside Pullman, where she — along with a small class of WSU students — spends about 40 hours each week tending vegetables. Sullivan has had her eye on WSU's developing organic agriculture major for the last several semesters. This December she expects to graduate with the nation's first undergraduate degree in the subject.

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A combination of study and apprenticeship - similar to German education - would be a good idea.

Posted by: David Foley on 16 Jul 06

I would like to point out that The Evergreen State College has been running an on-campus organic farming program for years. Because they don't bother with majors, they were never recognized for their training in this field, but a great deal of it is spent actually farming, not just studying it. The program covers all aspects, from urban ag to seed saving to soil science.

I suppose I'm just being snarky because it's my alma mater, but the bit about Julie Sullivan was too much. After all, Evergreen's in Olympia, right where she started.

With *that* out of my system, I applaud WSU's decision, and I agree it's a watershed moment, because Evergreen is under the radar (obviously), while - as you say - WSU is an ag school - Washington's land grant university. May this herald a reconsideration of American ag practices (especially since the G8 seem to be caving on subsidies at the WTO).

Posted by: justus on 17 Jul 06



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