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Rainshadow CCHS – Fall 2010 ID Organic Agriculture Syllabus

Joe Ferguson - *

Course Description: This interdisciplinary course on organic gardening at the Rainshadow
Farm will give students one semester of the art and science of organic agriculture and local food
production in Reno, the Truckee Meadows, Nevada, the West, and beyond. We will be learning
how to begin and maintain a garden, prepare land for cultivation, about soil nutrients,
composting, worms, plant biology, local food security, nutrition and personal health, and
sustainable agriculture with an emphasis on participation in community gardens & agricultural
projects. We will continue to develop projects for further hands-on inquiry including (but not
limited to) winter greenhouse / hoophouse work, seed banking, growing herbs, worm farming,
entrepreneurial ventures, art projects, spring season planting, etc. We will also begin to make
plans to build a greenhouse on the roof of our new school building. We will work closely with
community groups such as The River School & Interpretive Gardens, Reno Food Not Bombs,
The Great Basin Community Food Coop, R.E.A.L. (Responsibility, Earth, Art, Learning),
local community gardens and food markets.
Course Aims and Objectives for this Semester:
Upon completion of this semester unit, students will;
- Demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the importance of educational, local, organic,
community based agricultural projects in Reno.
- Begin to plan and act on agricultural, entrepreneurial, and other associated projects utilizing the
resources available on the Rainshadow Farm.
- Explore the link between sustainable food production, nutrition, health, and the greater
- participation in classroom, farm, and field activities every day.
- record of notes, journal entries and other writings
- completed portfolio of assignments (see requirements below)
- projects and presentations that demonstrate your farming knowledge

Week / Dates Tuesday Thursday

1) Aug.31, Sept.2 Course syllabus, rules and expectations for
What are Nevada plants? Field trip to an
this class. What do we already know about
urban garden. Farm resources, crop plant
growing? Intro to the Rainshadow Farm-a
identification. Harvest food, collect seeds.
picture slideshow. See the school grounds.
2) Sept. 7, 9 What is organic agriculture and why is it The farm as an ecosystem full of
important? Farming methods. Field trip to biodiversity. Growing with nature instead
and tour of another urban backyard farm. of against it. Planning our landscape.
3) Sept. 14, 16 Field trip to a community garden. The Helping at the Libby Booth Community
benefits of having gardens at schools. How Garden. Harvesting food. Hoophouse
can we collaborate here? supplies. More.
4) Sept. 21, 23 Photosynthesis video and lesson. Seeing
photosynthesis in action. Every plant for No School: Professional Development
itself activity, plant competition.
5) Sept. 28, 30 Field trip to The River School. Intro to Intro to plant biology and ecology. Plant
permaculture & sustainable living. More structures: roots and stems. Field trip to
ideas for urban gardens. another local community garden.
6) Oct. 5, 7 Community garden work TBA. Plant Community garden work TBA. Plant
structures: leaves & flowers. Begin native structures: fruits and seeds. Plant types:
Nevada plant project. annuals, perennials, monocots, dicots, etc.
7) Oct. 12, 14 Community garden collaboration and Community garden collaboration and work
work TBA. The role of decomposers. TBA. Testing our soil for proper nutrition,
What is compost? Soil nutrition. N, P, K, and pH.
8) Oct. 19, 21 Community garden collaboration and Covering the hoophouse and getting ready
work TBA. Preparing hoophouse for the to plant. How do we want to plant the
winter. What crops grow in the winter? winter garden? Harvesting pumpkins.
9) Oct. 26, 28 Community garden collaboration and Harvest lore and pumpkin carving contest.
work TBA. Planning for the future of the Getting ready for Halloween. Toasting the
Rainshadow rooftop greenhouse. pumpkin seeds and other recipes.
10) Nov. 2, 4 Community garden collaboration and Community garden collaboration and work
work TBA. The art of double digging and TBA. Soil types and soil structure.
ground preparation. Continue planting our winter crops.
11) Nov. 9, 11 Community garden collaboration and
work TBA. Vermicomposting and worm
anatomy. Watering and other
No School: Veterans Day
maintenance. Worm farming 101.
Building our own worm bins. Guest
12) Nov. 16, 18 The benefits of eating local food. Food Community connections: Field trip to The
security for Reno. Eating seasonally and Great Basin Community Food Cooperative.
regionally. The 7 cooperative principles.
13) Nov. 23, 25 A harvest feast and potluck. Trying local
food. The importance of sharing food and No School: Thanksgiving Holiday
community traditions.
14) Nov.30, Dec.2 Field trip to the grocery store. Where does
Finish native Nevada plant research
our food come from? Is it local? How far
does it travel?
15) Dec. 7, 9 The evolution of the American Farm and
Nevada plant research project
the establishment of community farms.
Read Seed Folks
16) Dec. 14, 16 Community garden collaboration and Preparing farms and crops to be gone for
work TBA. Reflecting on Seed Folks and two weeks. Who will take care of the
finishing our project. plants?
17) Jan. 4, 6 Checking up on our crops. Did they Farming for the future. Organic and
survive? Farm maintenance. Documenting sustainable. Biofuels and fibers. Video: The
our work. Future of Food.
18) Jan. 11, 13 Finish The Future of Food and discuss. Wrapping things up for the semester.
Where is modern agriculture going? Putting our farm websites together.
19) Jan. 18, 20 Rainshadow portfolio development. Self assessment, and course reflection,
Showing off your farm learning. Updating where do we go from here? What do we
your website. want to accomplish next semester?
Grading Policy and Assessment: This interdisciplinary course of study is worth 1000 points.
Point Breakdown:
- Attendance and Participation on the Farm– 400 points
- Complete Portfolio of all Classwork, Daily Activities Records, and Journal Entries – 400 points
- Group and Solo Projects and Presentations – 200 points
Portfolio Contents: You will submit components from this course into your Rainshadow portfolio
that will showcase your work for the full 18-week course of study. Your portfolio will contain your best
work from this class and will be a demonstration of your skills and growth as a Rainshadow CCHS
student. It will be expected that your major projects and several other pieces of work from this class
will be components of your portfolio.