Saturday, January 28, 2006

Learn Organic Farming Online

From Canada's Penticton Western News comes word of a new initiative by British Columbia's Organic Farming Institute (trying to find a link): an online school devoted to organic agriculture.
The Organic Farming Institute of B.C. will allow farmers to learn how to transition and sustain an organic farm using a Web-based program and gain practical experience on Similkameen farms starting this September.

The idea for creating an institute came out of an Industry Canada-sponsored focus group that looked at using the then newly installed broadband Internet system to create economic opportunities in the valley, said Graham Gore, chair of the institute's board of directors. Teaching organic farming was an obvious choice because of the valley's concentration of organic farms - the highest in Canada at 40 percent....

Three courses have been developed for the first semester of the program. The first online course will teach farmers how to transition a conventional farm to an organic farm, the second will deal with soil management and the third will be a practicum, said Gore. At the end of the self-paced course the students - up to 25 are expected to participate in the first year - would get a certificate, which would likely be presented through an accredited college, he said. Eventually the institute would like to use Okanagan College and Lakeland College to create a undergraduate program, he said.
This is a cool development on so many levels. I particularly like the idea of harnessing local knowledge and making it widely available via the Internet. This could become quite a resource for other schools of agriculture, as well as other disciplines (i.e. landscape architecture). If anyone from the Institute or the WPN is reading, I'd love that link at the end...

While looking for images, I also came across another source of online education for organic farming in Canada.

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