LA 390: Urban Farm

The class Urban Farm (LA 390) is offered during Spring, Summer and Fall terms and is open to all students at the University of Oregon. The course can be repeated for a multi-seasonal experience. Students come from virtually every discipline across the University to learn about where their food comes from and how their food choices affect change. We begin with our hands in the soil and learn to recognize that we are all part of the vibrant local agrarian community that defines the food-shed of Eugene. Most farm activities are hands-on with some lectures and field trips. Students in the class get to enjoy the food that they grow when it is ready for harvest.

This course also qualifies for credit within the Food Studies Program, either as part of an undergraduate minor degree or toward a Graduate Specialization.

Over the years, we have drawn from several organic gardening philosophies including: NW French Raised Bed Intensive, Steve Solomon’s and Carol Deppe’s approaches, Uday Balwalker’s composting in situ/no till method, as well as introductions to Biodynamic philosophy, and techniques related to Permaculture.

Student teams also share the responsibility of the common farm areas and contribute to the various activities involved with maintaining a 2-acre Urban Garden. This includes:

  • fruit tree stewardship, harvesting and care
  • perennial bed planting and care
  • compost production
  • greenhouse management
  • direct seeding
  • vegetable harvesting

Students who are successful in the Urban Farm course will leave with a deeper understanding of the complexities of local food production and will possess an enhanced skill-set of how to grow their own food. They will also understand more fully the implications of their food choices and how local foodways shape their community. Students will leave with a familiarity of a variety of tools needed to perform the many tasks required in the garden, and how to properly use them.

Required text:

The Urban Farm Reader

Recommended texts: 

  • Gardening When it Counts,  Steve Solomon
  • Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, Steve Solomon
  • The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times, Carol Deppe