Coos Bay, OR – The Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Southwestern Oregon Community College will launch a new Agroecology program this fall on the Coos Campus (contingent upon state approval). The program aims to support students who want to enter the workforce, and the region’s farmers and land managers, along with offering classes for community members.

Agroecology is an interdisciplinary study of the ecology of the entire food system, encompassing ecological, economic, and social dimensions. Teaching focuses on the holistic approach to agriculture that considers not only crop production and yield, but the sustainability of the ecosystem and community.

“This is an exciting opportunity for students looking to get a 2-year degree, and for community members just looking to learn about self-sufficiency and how to successfully grow vegetables,” said Maria Farinacci, assistant professor who is developing the program.

All Agroecology courses will have hands-on, and field experience-based instruction. Students will use the campus Instructional Garden and visit local farms, nurseries, and gardens. Students also will connect with local farmers and ranchers, nurseries, watershed councils, landscapers, and turf managers.

Degree-seeking students will have internship opportunities to get valuable work experience, focus on their area of interest, and build connections with local employers. Course work will include how to create healthy compost and soil, install rain gardens, orchard and food forest design and maintenance, and cover crop and no-till techniques.

For fall term 2023, students and community members can enroll in Agroecology I (AG 101 – 5 credits), and/or two Community Classes: Fungal Ecology (NR 211) and Gardening the South Coast (AG 160).

“Food security and natural resource management are overlapping and important issues for people on the south coast. The local agricultural industry needs a well-trained workforce, as well as more investment, collaboration, and research to support our local growers,” Farinacci said.

There are no prerequisites required to enter the program. No previous gardening or farming experience needed. The only thing students need to excel is a willingness to learn and a desire to work outdoors. To help assess what might be the best fit:

  • Community Classes are great for people who are looking to garden at home for friends and family.
  • Career Pathway Certificates are for students wanting to take a few courses and get right into the workforce.
  • The two-year Associates of Applied Science degree pathway is for students looking to enter the field of agriculture, work towards becoming a farm or nursery manager or owner, become an agronomist for golf courses, or operate a landscaping business. Financial aid is available for these degree seeking students.

For more information contact the Student Success Center at 541-888-7352 or email firststop@socc.edu. For help in applying to Southwestern visit: https://www.socc.edu/resources/become-a-student

For more information on the Agroecology program or course content, contact instructor Maria Farinacci at maria.farinacci@socc.edu or 541-888-7412.



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