Organic Farming 101 for seriously beginning organic farmers or growers looking for a nuts-and-bolts refresher course to get in shape for the coming season. Learn the How-To for full scale organic farming along with the science that explains it. Plan your farm season intentionally with forethought and mindfully for the unexpected. This intensive course will begin in February and help you get started in time for the upcoming season.

Course Coordinator: Professor Jacquelyn Zita, Farm Manager at the Women’s Environmental Institute

Monday evening classes meet from 6:00-8:00pm

 Saturday classes meet  from 10:00-3:00pm
Late Fall Classes to be determined later in the year.
Location: North Branch / Chisago County Community Center Conference Room, 38790 6th Avenue, NB 55056
Level: college level/adult education

$250 for entire class series 

This course is designed to grow and refresh organic farmers and market gardeners with the knowledge needed for whole farm planning/management using the principles and practices of organic agro-ecological farming. The class will provide students an opportunity to design your own organic farm or garden (for the upcoming 2016 season or long term planning), develop the knowledge you need to manage an organic farm or garden and create a business/farm management plan for a full farming season. You can also design your own project to fit into the contours of the class. The class is coordinated and taught by Professor Emerita/Organic Farmer, Jacquelyn Zita, farm manager for the Women’s Environmental Institute.

Requirements: Readings. Midterm Assignment. Weekly Assignments. Organic Farm & Business Plan.

Readings: This is your opportunity to read and discuss selected readings and other resources with a group of organically-minded farmers and market growers.

Building Soils for Better Crops, Fred Magdoff, Harold Van Es, Maldor, MN: SARE Outreach Publication, 2009 – Available from for $16.95.  On-line: Google the title of the text and download a PDF copy for your use.

The Market Gardener: A Successful Growers Handbook for Small Scale Organic Farming, Jean-Martin Fortier and Marie Bilodeau, Available from Amazon for $14.38.

Short excerpts will be required reading and will be sent to you as a PDF copy. Possible excerpted selections from:

  • The New Organic Grower, Eliot Coleman.  Chelsia Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT 1995
  • Organic Farming, Nicolas Lampkin. Ipswich, UK, 2002
  • Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems, Stephen Gliessman.   Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2007
  • Crop Rotation on Organic Farms; A Planning Manual, Charles Mohler & Sue Ellen Johnson, eds.  Natural Resources, Agriculture and Engineering Service, Ithaca, NY 2009
  • The Erosion of Civilizations, David Montgomery.   Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007
  • Growing Vegetables: The Big Yield/Small Space Way,  Duane Newcomb.  J.P. Tarcher Inc., Los Angeles, 1981
  • Organic Gardening: Pauline Pears & Sue Strickland. Octopus Publishing Ltd., 1999 London

Course Objectives include the following:

  1. To develop an understanding of the historical, biological and ecological basis for the principals of organic farming and the WEI’s mission to grow food and food justice.
  2. To learn the basic principles of soil health management through the use of cover crop, compost and other organic and mineral amendments.
  3. To learn the basic principles of managing biodiversity, crop rotations, weed management, nutrient cycles for plant health.
  4. To acquire an understanding of organic methods for pest and weed control and identification of nutrient deficiencies.
  5. To create helpful strategies for food handling and storage.
  6. To develop an understanding the USDA National Organic Program Rules and Organic Farming Record Keeping.
  7. To acquire ability to knowledgeably discuss principles and practices of your organic agriculture.
  8. To create an overall farm management and business plan for your farm.

Full Syllabus Forthcoming Soon.

Praise for Organic Farming 101: “This was, by far, one of the best learning experiences I’ve had. The teaching was comprehensive, varied, and practical – delivered by a wide range of talent. I particularly enjoyed meeting my classmates and was amazed at the variety in gifts, interests, and projects. Above all, the dedication of everyone in the group to sharing their knowledge to advance the cause of sustainable living via organic farming methods and food justice touched me most deeply.” ~Jeri Jensen, student in WEI’ Organic Farming 101 last year

The Women’s Environmental Institute is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to farming, food, and environmental justice. The WEI Amador Hill farm campus is located in Almelund, Minnesota, north of the Twin Cities, and is the location of WEI’s Eco-Retreat Center which hosts many farm education and community events. For more information call 651-583-0705.