The Ecological Agriculture major focuses on applying ecological concepts to environmentally friendly food production. Learn how to produce food in a sustainable and ecologically-sound manner. Gain a solid foundation in the natural sciences and practical experience through our organic farm practicum, internships, and field trips. Nationally there is a growing need for professionals who understand and apply effective principles to agriculture. The Ecological Agriculture major integrates course work in ecology, plant science, soil science, entomology, economics, and policy with an experiential learning internship to create educated professionals.
Ecological Agriculture students are interested in diversified agriculture systems that include horticultural and agronomic crops. Ecology is the uniting thread that integrates the course-work and ties the curriculum together. The program is based in UVM’s Plant and Soil Science Department, where faculty advisors help students select courses and develop learning experiences that match their interests and career goals.
All students who enroll in the major must complete the basic core curriculum for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), which includes courses in communications and technology. In addition students complete courses within the program, such as plant biology, ecology, plant and soil science, economics, and policy. Summer course offerings provide students experience during the Vermont growing season.
Internships and Research
Our faculty works closely with farmers and growers in Vermont and throughout the Northeast, and with state and federal agencies. Disciplines represented in UVM’s Plant and Soil Science Department supporting the Ecological Agriculture major, include vegetables, fruit, forage for animals, soil science, compost science, and ornamental plants. All of these areas are important in diverse agriculture systems and for students who want to study them. Internship experiences put our students’ knowledge to work and allow them to earn credit and develop skills that improve employment opportunities. Students work on farms, for company compost projects, and in greenhouses to gain valuable experience.
Students also have opportunities to work with CALS faculty doing research in campus laboratories, in the field at UVM’s 4 research farms, including a 97-acre Horticulture Research Center, or in our state-of-the-art greenhouses. An example of one club is Common Ground, a community supported and entirely student-run agriculture cooperative.
The Ecological Agriculture major provides students with experiential learning opportunities needed for wise use of natural resources. The major has prepared students for jobs in production; ornamental horticulture retail and services; production of specialty crops for food, medical and energy uses; and recycling damaged lands. Other career directions for which our students are prepared include organic farming, soil conservation, production of specialty crops, environmental science and management, precision agriculture technology, phytoremediation, plant inspection, food biosecurity, or science policy.