New Courses in Sustainable Food and Farming this Fall!

The UMass Sustainable Food and Farming program has expanded very rapidly due to student interest in local and organic farming, food policy, farm-based education, herbal medicine and permaculture.  When we created the concentration in 2000 we had 5 students in the 4-year Bachelors program and another 5 in the 2-year Fruit and Vegetable Associates program.  Today, Sustainable Food and Farming is the largest of all of the majors in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture with over 75 students in the 2- and 4-year programs.  To adjust to the rapid growth, we continue to try to add new courses!

We’ve added several new courses this fall which may interest you.  Most of these classes are also open to non-majors as well.  Check them out!


PLSOILIN 197G Introduction to Permaculture (SPIRE 60318) TuTh at 1:00pm-2:15pm; 3 credits – This course offers students a foundation in permaculture history, ethics, principles, design process, and practical applications. The framework behind the theory and practice of permaculture is rooted in the observation of natural systems. By observing key ecological relationships, we can mimic and apply these beneficial relationships in the design of systems that serve humans while helping to restore the natural world. This course trains students as critical thinkers, observers, and analysts of the world(s) around them, and then goes on to provide students with the tools needed to design for inspired and positive change.

PLSOILIN 298 – Practicum in the Art of Home Herbalism with Brittany Nickerson – apprenticeships offered off-campus (within walking distance to campus).  The instructor will help you arrange academic credit (must be done before the end of add/drop).

PLSOILIN 398 – Permaculture Design Certification Course at Sirius Community in Shutesbury, MA (15 minutes drive from UMass) (3 credits) – This is a 72-hour certification course that takes place over four weekends: Sept 14-16; Oct 26 (evening) – Oct 28; Nov 16 (evening) – Nov 18;Dec 7 – 9.  Includes: hands-on practice in the gardens and with ecological design practice; guided permaculture design process from client interviews with onsite design clients at the Sirius EcoVillage, to site assessment and design generation; time to to meet and work with some of the best permaculture designers from the northeast; an opportunity to gain your certification in permaculture design.  For information on cost and how to obtain academic credit contact Kay Cafasso at or see:

PLSOILIN 398B – Agricultural Practicum in Edible Forest Gardening (Friday 1:00pm-6:00pm and one all day field trip on Friday 9/28) – Permission of instructor is required to take this class. Certain prerequisites may be waived depending on comparable experience, motivation, or other circumstances. All interested students are encouraged to apply.  Contact Susanne Hale for more information.

STOCKSCH 197D – Draft Horse Husbandry I – this course was postponed until Spring Semester.

STOCKSCH 297NR – Nuestras Raices: Community Farming and Food Security (SPIRE 61258) Tu 6:30-8:30pm (2 credits) A seminar on community gardening, food security and sustainability, as well as community-based work days at Nuestras Raices La Finca Farm in Holyoke, MA. Permission of the instructor is required.

STOCKSCH 297W – Herbal Approaches to Women’s Health (SPIRE 61780) Monday 11:15am-1:05pm (2 credits) – Use of medicinal herbs and foods for health and well being through all stages of a woman’s life. Introduction to basic medicine making, anatomy and physiology of the female reproductive system.

STOCKSCH 297E – Wild Edible Plants – (SPIRE 61788) Tuesday 4:30pm-6:30pm; Stockbridge Hall 07B (1 credit) – In this course, students learn to safely identify close to two dozen familiar wild and local plants, and prepare them into food, medicines, and useful fiber crafts.

STOCKSCH 297M – Fungal Fundamentals – (SPIRE 61789) Wednesday 4:30-6:00pm; French 105 (2 credits) – Students will learn how to identify and forage for wild, gourmet and medicinal mushrooms. Topics covered include fungal ecology and sustainable agricultural practices.


UMass Permaculture Committee

Are you looking for an empowering and exciting new way to further sustainability on campus? Want to engage and educate the campus community about the power we have to make positive change?

Join the UMass Permaculture Committee! We are a student and staff committee that educates and engages the campus community in the development of a whole systems approach to moving “beyond sustainability”.  Over the course of the past two years, the UMass Permaculture Committee has designed and implemented two permaculture gardens on campus, along with hosting events and workshops, organizing volunteers, writing blogs and articles, and leading tours and presentations about the UMass Permaculture Initiative.

The committee is a one-year commitment and is open to students of all majors and backgrounds. Learn More!

Now recruiting new members! If you are passionate about these issues and would like to apply for the committee, please contact: or Download Application Here  (Click File then Download the application and return it to before Sept 7th at Midnight! )


Finally…. a unique Independent Study Opportunity!

Renaissance Center – Stockbridge Vegetable Garden Project Study

The University of Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies and the Stockbridge School of Agriculture are partnering in the creation of two new vegetable gardens at the Renaissance Center at 650 East Pleasant St. (walking distance to campus).  The first phase of this partnership will be research into the vegetable gardening practices in English cottage gardens during two periods; 1) the late Middle Ages (15th century – prior to Columbus), and 2) the 16th century (or the period after the Columbian Exchange of plants from the Americas to England).  These two gardens will demonstrate the impact of the Columbian Exchange of plant materials from the Americas to English gardens as well as provide an example of  how peasant families of the time sustained a healthy diet without modern technology or supermarkets.  In order to construct the two gardens, we are looking for several students who want to earn academic credit to do the initial research into the plants commonly grown, standard growing practices (fertility, planting, pest management), and garden design.  If you are interested in this project, please contact Dr. John M. Gerber, Professor in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, at


If you have any questions about these courses or the Sustainable Food and Farming major, please contact Dr. John M. Gerber at