Ontario College Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture Co-op
The Sustainable Agriculture program is designed for new farmers seeking an intensive, applied learning experience in sustainable, ecological or natural farming methods.
Please note: Students pay tuition and fees for 2 semesters (Semesters 1 and 2 when courses are based on-campus). Students pay a co-op fee of approximately $558.00 for the co-op semester during the summer.
Throughout the Sustainable Agriculture program you will:
- Learn from experienced farmers and practitioners in class, on farm field days, and during panel discussions.
- Develop your own business case and farm plan.
- Focus on the principles and practices of sustainable agriculture and small farm operations and viability.
- Enjoy a highly interactive learning environment.
Farming practices in the program are based on the principles of environmental stewardship, farmer profitability, social responsibility and community health.
The 16-week, on-farm, co-op experience over the summer creates opportunities for specialization. Previous co-ops have included national and international farm locations as well as work with urban food advocacy groups and farmers.
Completion of the Sustainable Agriculture program will enable you to:
- Develop a personal philosophy and approach to sustainable farming, using knowledge of historic and contemporary farm practices, food culture and systems.
- Protect and renew soil fertility and health through use of composts, green manures, cover crops, rotation, tillage and soil testing and amendments.
- Develop crop plans and rotations to meet small-scale through field-scale production needs.
- Manage a small-scale market garden and / or greenhouse operation from seed starts through harvest.
- Integrate natural biological cycles and controls in managing plant pathogens, weeds, insect pests and parasites.
- Assess the merits and viability of integrating small-scale livestock production and heritage breeds in the mixed farm operation and manage their husbandry and welfare.
- Plan for, problem-solve and manage the day-to-day events and operations of the farm enterprise, including maintenance and repair, economy in use of resources, development of on-farm systems, animal and crop husbandry and farm labour.
- Meet optimal standards of food safety including handling, cleaning, processing, preserving and storage.
- Develop a viable business case, business plan, and direct marketing strategies to support a non-capital intensive, sustainable farm enterprise.
- Plan for and manage the day to day business operations of the farm enterprise in order to create a dependable farm income.
- Develop an integrated farm plan that accounts for ecological farm practices, environmental protection, biodiversity and wildlife preservation.
- Develop an approach to whole farm thinking that optimizes the management and use of on-farm resources, and reduces the use of non-renewable resources and purchased production inputs.
Students are eligible to apply for Fleming College scholarships and bursaries.
Graduates have started their own small-scale farm operations, are working for not for profit farm organizations, and managing farmers' markets. Other opportunities include: promoting agri-tourism and local food, coordinating community gardens, and managing farm-to-school programs.
Read a recent article about two graduates who launched their own organic farm.
Trent University Partnership
Through a collaboration between Trent and Fleming, Trent University students enrolled in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program (B.Sc. or B.A. Honours), can take Fleming College’s Sustainable Agriculture Co-op program and earn credit towards their degree while also earning their Ontario College Graduate Certificate. Students admitted to the program register as full-time Fleming students beginning in September, following their last year of their Trent program. For eligibility information and application details, see the Specialization in Applied Agriculture on the Trent University website.
Minimum Admission Requirements
Students applying to Sustainable Agriculture Co-op must meet the following requirements:
- Ontario College Diploma or two years of University level undergraduate study or equivalent
Applicants who do not meet the requirements listed above who possess a combination of education and relevant experience may be considered on an individual basis.