Majoring in Organic

Jane Sooby's picture

I spoke to a class at University of Florida and, during introductions, student after student told me their name and their major: “organic crop production.”

Though this was a course in advanced organic production, I hadn’t prepared for the emotional impact of hearing students identify as organic majors. Do these young people realize that their academic major represents long-fought legitimization of organic agriculture as a valid realm of study?

I wanted to jump up and down with excitement. I told the students how cutting-edge it is that they are majoring in organic. I also credited their school, the University of Florida, for scoring all eight points in OFRF’s recent land grant assessment, which documents organic research, education, and extension.

Five years ago, Washington State University was first in the country to offer students a major in organic agriculture. Now, nine land grant universities provide students the option for an organic major, minor, or certificate (see below for list).

I am eager to see what these students do with their formal training in organic. How many will become successful organic farmers? How many will discover a passion for research and dedicate their careers to scientific investigation of organic systems? How many will find careers in the organic industry? Whatever they choose, I expect great things from them.

Schools with organic options:

State Town Degree, minor, major, or  certificate in organic
Colorado State Univ. Fort Collins Organic Ag Interdisciplinary Program (a minor program)
Univ. of Florida Gainesville Organic Crop Production is a "specialization" option offered to undergraduates through the Horticultural Sciences Department
Univ. of Georgia Athens Certificate Program in Organic Agriculture is an interdisciplinary program of study that was created in Fall 2007
Michigan State Univ. East Lansing Sustainable and Organic Program of Study in Horticulture and an Organic Farmer Training Program certificate
Univ. Minnesota St. Paul The Horticulture Major has an specified area of study called "Organic Horticulture and Local Foods."
Univ. of Nebraska Lincoln NEW! Organic Systems Option for Agronomy and Horticulture undergraduate majors
Oregon State Univ. Corvallis Ecological and Sustainable Horticultural Production Option in Hort Major
Univ. Tennessee Knoxville New Organic Production concentration in the Plant Sciences major (starting fall 2011). 
Washington State Univ. Pullman Offers an organic major (B.S. in Agricultural and Food Systems with a major in Organic Agriculture Systems) and an organic certificate



Blog Category:

Social Image: