PETERSBURG, Va. — Last spring, VSU started a Sustainable Urban Agriculture Certificate Program for urban farmers, gardeners, extension educators and community members. The 10-week intensive course included lectures and hands-on outdoor lab activities.
Classes meet on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A variety of subjects were covered, including: General Principles of Urban Agriculture; Basic Botany; Sustainable Soil Management, Urban Soils and Brownfields; Permaculture; Insect Pest Management; Weed Management; Plant Disease Management; Vegetable and Small Fruit Production; Plant Propagation; Greenhouse Production, Hydroponics and Aquaponics systems; Backyard Rearing of Chickens and Rabbits; and Business and Entrepreneurship.
The program required completion of 80 hours of apprenticeship, designed to complement course information by providing the practical application of the course material. Students were also required to present a seminar upon the completion of apprenticeship after which they received a certificate of completion.
A survey of the participants revealed that 100 percent agreed that the program met their expectations, that the instructors communicated clearly, and that the course content was relevant. At least 86 percent agreed that the hands-on exercises were relevant; 82 percent liked that the class was held on Saturdays; while 95 percent liked the class meeting times. All the respondents agreed that the overall program was good and that that they would recommend it to others.
The first group of five students presented their seminar on Sept. 30, and upon successful completion of the program, were awarded their certificates. These students included: Barbara Booker, Marilyn Campbell, Susan Haas, Yvonne L. Nutall (Nutty) and Cameron Vernon.
— Virginia State University College of Agriculture