The Sustainable Agriculture major is designed to prepare students for careers in sustainable agriculture and food systems. The program emphasizes small-scale, local, sustainable agriculture, blending applied knowledge of plants and soils, the context of environmental change, and skills necessary to problem solve and advocate for the role of agriculture in building healthy communities.
Our alums in sustainable agriculture include organic farmers, plant health specialists, a plant breeding technician, an advancement director of a major community food organization, a director of a seed conservation society, a staff member of a farmland conservation organization, a research greenhouse manager, several soil scientists, and many more.
Our unique location provides distinctive partnership advantages to our sustainable agriculture majors:
MOFGA: Situated right here in Unity, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is the largest organic organization in the nation. MOFGA is the state’s certification agency for certifying organic farms, and is also very active in farmer education. Our students take advantage of year round events –trainings, films, speakers—at MOFGA. In addition, two of the organization’s twenty staff members have regularly taught courses for us, and several serve as advisors to our program. In September each year 60,000 people visit MOFGA’s Common Ground Fair.
Maine Farmland Trust: Maine Farmland Trust has an office in Unity and its main office is located in nearby Belfast. In addition to participating in programs like Farmshare, interns help with MFT’s mission to preserve farmland.
Veggies for All: We partner closely with a local food-bank farm called Veggies for All to teach students about vegetable production and food security. VFA provides tons of fresh, whole, healthy food to local food pantries each year by growing vegetables on campus. Unity annually hosts Empty Bowls, a fundraiser for hunger relief.
The Sustainable Agriculture Community: Unity is surrounded by certified organic farms—over 48 in our county—as well as seed companies, and food security and farm viability organizations. Both in and out of the classroom, our students network with this very supportive agricultural community.
All of our agriculture students in the Sustainable Agriculture major are required to complete an internship. Many students take advantage of our partnership with MOFGA to combine an MOFGA apprenticeship with their Unity College internship for a summer farm immersion experience.
Students who elect this option work with Unity and MOFGA staff to select from a list of over 100 participating farms. Another summer or semester internship option is to work with a community food organization, learning through experience about initiatives in food security, farm viability, or food and agriculture policy.
During the academic year—either as part of a class, in the work-study program, or as volunteers—students work in our greenhouses, with animals (either on our farm or at a local farm), and in our sustainability office. As of fall 2013, students in the Sustainable Agriculture major now have the opportunity to document their activities outside the classroom through a Rural Living Transcript.
Courses in the Program Include:
- Fundamentals of Organic Horticulture
- Sustainable Agriculture Systems
- Sustainable Pest Management
- Livestock and Pasture Management
- Soil Fertility
- Sustainable Enterprise
- Sustainable Agriculture Capstone Project
Electives of Particular Interest:
- Build a Barn
- Grains for Maine
- Organic Dairy Marketing
- Forest Gardening
- The Root Cellar
- Small Woodlot Management
- Green Building
- Chainsaw Safety
- Designing with Nature