“It’s no wonder we’re seeing a huge increase in the number of urban farms from Brooklyn to Boise and everywhere in between.”
By Michelle Olgers
Feb 22, 2017
But training hasn’t kept up with demand for these urban cowboys. As Githinji explained, a lot of non-profits, churches, businesses and municipalities are putting a great deal of resources into getting urban farms up and running. So much so that last year the U.S. Department of Agriculture published an Urban Agriculture Toolkit to provide informational resources to these group leaders, many of whom have never farmed before or know a nematode from a horned toad. For the record, a nematode is parasitic worm that often causes damage to garden crops like tomatoes and peppers. A horned toad is actually a desert lizard.
But there’s a lot to learn, he said, from business planning, legal issues and market development to soil quality, pest management and plant health. To help meet the demand for academically trained urban agriculture professionals, Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture is offering an Urban Agriculture Certificate Program this spring. Designed for anyone charged with starting or managing an urban farm or who wants to increase their marketability to do so, the course provides a curriculum rich in the science-based knowledge needed to successfully and safely grow produce in an urban environment. Courses include: plant propagation and nursery management, plant disease and pest management, sustainable soil management, greenhouse production (hydroponic and aquaponic), animal husbandry (chickens and rabbits),and more. All courses will be taught by Virginia State University (VSU) and Virginia Tech professors.