This course includes a theoretical and practical introduction to agroecology and to organic farming. Agroecology is an integrative approach to the study of agriculture that encompasses interactions between agricultural systems and their associated ecosystems, as well as the complexity of the entire food system, including ecological, economic, and social dimensions.
In this course, students will gain an understanding of the interactions between agricultural systems and the environment. We will examine how multiple factors influence integrated food systems and gain an in-depth understanding of inputs and outputs in agricultural systems and their relation to primary productivity, nutrient cycling, energy flows, and species interactions on farms. We will link these agroecological concepts to practical soil management, crop rotation, companion planting, weed and insect management, and urban composting techniques, as well as garden design and planning based on permaculture principles. Students will integrate all these elements through permaculture design principles into a personal garden design project.
We will have a chance to meet and/or visit farm and garden managers and seed saver organizations and hear about the challenges they face, showcasing the historical and contemporary development of local food systems in Austria particularly in and around Vienna.
- Understand foundational agroecological principles, including relationships between agricultural systems and surrounding ecosystems, and analyze how they are applied in different settings
- Integrate and synthesize knowledge of agroecology systems to inform organic garden design, including crop selection, crop rotation, and soil, weed, and insect management elements
- Explain and/or apply basic practical organic gardening techniques, and reflect on the complexities and challenges of managing an organic garden
- Class attendance, readings, and participation 30%
- Farm visits, guest lectures, and design and field journal entries 30%
- Garden design presentation and final design 40%