NEW online certificate in sustainable food and farming at the University of Massachusetts


\"\"One of the delights I\’ve experienced recently at the University of Massachusetts is a marked increase of interest among students in sustainable food and farming.  I suspect we can partially attribute this to bestselling books by Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver and Eric Schlosser, or perhaps movies such as Food, Inc and The Future of Food.  Whatever the cause, we\’ve seen a more than 10-fold increase in the number of students who are choosing to major in Sustainable Food and Farming.

Global Education Online

Not everyone interested in learning about local food and farming systems however can attend college, so we created a  new 15-credit Certificate starting with courses offered this summer.  This program was designed to serve students who are not able to make a commitment to a 4-year degree but still want to earn college credentials.   The Certificate may be completed entirely online or by mixing online and campus classes.  I\’ve had students in my online classes from Brazil, Korea and Argentina and all over the U.S. as well as locally.


Students taking online courses, earn the same academic credit from UMass as those students studying on campus and may transfer these credits to their home institution.

The Certificate, like the campus-based Bachelor of Sciences 4-year degree, serves students interested in three areas of study:

  1. Sustainable Farming Systems – this includes sustainable and organic plant and animal production systems for managing regionally-focused (local) farms, organic farms, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, and personal homesteads.
  2. Education – this includes youth education, citizen education, non-profit educational organizations, media work, and formal teaching relating to ecological food and farming.
  3. Public Policy and Advocacy – this includes working directly with people and groups in coalitions such as community gardens, anti-hunger campaigns, and environmental protection groups, as well as non-profit advocacy organizations, government agencies, and personal citizen involvement in political and community change efforts.

Information on the Certificate Requirements is linked here. Of course people who want to take an individual course in Sustainable Living, Land Use Policy, Community Food Systems, Organic Farming, or others, are welcome to do so without working toward the Certificate.

The following courses are offered online this summer.


PLSOILIN 100 – Botany for Gardeners (4 credits) is a class on the science of plant growth, using world food production, our favorite foods, and backyard gardening as the framework for study.  Click here.



PLSOILIN 185 – Sustainable Living (4 credits) introduces you to diverse global perspectives and practical personal solutions related to environmental, economic and social sustainability. Click here.


\"\"PLSOILIN 265 – Sustainable Agriculture (3 credits) – explores the ethical, practical and scientific aspects of agricultural sustainability including economic, social and environmental impacts of food and farming. Click here.


\"\"PLSOILIN 280 – Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants  (4 credit) is a general introductory course which focuses on the myth, tradition, and science of medicinal and aromatic plants.   Click here.



\"\"PLSOILIN 290C – Land Use Policies and Sustainable Farming. (3 credits) provides students with an opportunity to explore the political, economic and societal forces that influence land use decisions, an understanding of the history of land use policies and planning in the U.S. as they relate to agriculture. Click here.

\"\"PLSOILIN 397C – Community Food Systems (3 credits) examines the movement of food from seed to table. Participants in the course explore local and global food systems, and specific food related issues that impact health of communities. Click here.


These classes are part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Series.  A UMass Certificate may be earned by the successful completion of 15 credits of approved courses in this series.  For information, contact me at; [email protected]

To learn more about the UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Bachelor of Science Program, see:


I’d appreciate it if you would share this post with your friends.  And for more ideas, videos and challenges along these lines, please join my Facebook Group; Just Food Now.   And go here for more of my posts.