Our curriculum teaches sustainable, restorative, and regenerative practices for small farmers using context specific solutions. Students will learn how critical thinking can help them utilize systems, goals, and strategies. New theories and techniques are continually developing at a rapid pace in all of our core units, and our curriculum keeps pace with the many different methodologies of responsible agricultural practices. Students will also be exposed to the historical, environmental, financial, and social contexts of food production.
The GSAA is committed to teaching agriculture using a diversity of modes of instruction. Through a combination of lectures, labs, readings, discussions, and workshops, students learn the key foundational concepts from experts in our network. These lessons are not only taught in a classroom, they are then contextualized in the field with guided experiential learning, and then solidified during field trips to 25 farms and businesses where students can see the principles in action.
The broad spectrum of topics covered during the Practicum Program are brought to you by staff, mentor farmers, practitioners, and other educational organizations. Holistic Management International is collaborating with the GSAA to bring the HM framework and principles into the program. California FarmLink provides tutorials on topics such as land access and financing, and WestCo. brings us a collection of entrepreneurial courses. Ecology Action‘s Grow Biointensive program provides a variety of trainings on their data-driven, sustainable farming techniques. Dozens of other guest instructors and organizations play a major role in rounding out the education program.
The programs core units are:
From seeds to soil to processing, students will learn all the necessary skills and systems that produce vegetables, grains, and fruits. This unit places heavy emphasis on soil science, soil building, and all manner of diverse cropping systems, including low and no till, mechanized approaches, and a variety of methodologies. Irrigation practices, seed saving, value added products, and composting are all covered as well.
Successful farmers must have a thorough understanding of the business landscape that surrounds them. Several decision making frameworks are covered to aid in setting goals and clarifying principles. This course focuses on smart business planning, marketing, enterprise analysis, and record keeping. We also cover aspects of legal regulations and land access. Without a solid system in place to analyze your work, you’ll be stuck playing the guessing game with your finances!
Good animal husbandry is rooted in a firm understanding of the behavior, anatomy, and physiology of the animal. This unit covers animal welfare practices, genetics and breeding, housing and shelter, feed and nutrition, holistic management and pasture-based systems, and the quality end products that result in good management. Low stress animal handling, and good planning are the underlying themes of the Livestock Unit.
A good farmer is his or her own plumber, electrician, mechanic, and carpenter. Being able to troubleshoot problems and develop your own infrastructure will save you the headache and the bill. This unit covers tool maintenance and operation, carpentry, welding, plumbing and electricity, in addition to lessons on engine repair. Students will complete design-build projects, creating the muscle memory and confidence necessary to do-it-yourself.
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