SLF112 - Understand. Sustainable Farming: Principl.& Pract.

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-07-05 16:19:32.315
Last review date 2018-07-05 16:19:32.316

Subject Title
Understand. Sustainable Farming: Principl.& Pract.

Subject Description
This course provides an overview of sustainable agriculture and how it is practised in Canada, by exploring the ecological, economic, and social justice principles of sustainable farming.  Students will critically examine organic farming, food justice certification, and genetically engineered crops.  Topics also include the tools and strategies that non-profit organizations, governments and businesses can draw on to embrace agricultural sustainability. Students are encouraged to choose readings and assignments that reflect their own interests.

Credit Status
One credit towards the Sustainable Local Food Certificate Program

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the definition of sustainable agriculture.

2. Compare and contrast sustainable agriculture practices with conventional agriculture practices.

3. Examine the principles of agro-ecology.

4. Explain how the principles of agro-ecology can be applied to create healthy soil.

5. Describe how the principles of agro-ecology can be applied to manage pests on farms(both crop and livestock operations)

6. Assess the sustainability of different agricultural techniques, technologies and systems

7. Recognize the characteristics of a sustainable agricultural policy.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.

SLF110 - Field to Fork: Introduction to Local and Global Food Systems

Topic Outline
The current mainstream agricultural model has long since been established as unsustainable, but there is a wide divergence of views on how to create a more sustainable system. This subject begins with a look at agroecology, a discipline that holistically views the farm as an ecosystem. Following this, different technologies that are currently being touted as forms of sustainable agriculture - including organic farming, integrated pest management, reduced an no-tillage farming, multiple cropping and the use of genetically engineered crops - are critically examined.

Module 1  Defining Sustainable Agriculture
This module will begin with a review of what's wrong with conventional agriculture. Students will then examine various definitions of sustainable agriculture used by governments, universities, farmer organizations, industry groups, and non-governmental organizations (development organizations, advocacy groups) will be examined and unpacked with a view to deciding on a working definition of sustainable agriculture that will be used by the subject.

Module 2  Principles of Agroecology
In this module, students will learn the principles of agroecology and apply those principles to their own locality.

  • Plants, Animals and Environmental Factors - an inventory of the components of an agro-ecological system
  • System Building
  • Social and Economic Considerations

Module 3  Healthy Soils
Building on the previous module, techniques for achieving health soil will be examined, including conservation tillage, green manuring and compost application.

Module 4  Biodiversity
This module will examine the role of biodiversity in promoting ecosystem health, especially as it relates to pest control.

Module 5  Case Study: Genetic Engineering
Students will gain an overview of how genetic engineering has been applied to crops and livestock in North America and elsewhere and examine in detail the claims for and against the sustainability of this technology.

Module 6  Case Study: Organic Farming
The principles and techniques of organic farming will be examined as well as the arguments for and against organic farming as a model of sustainable agriculture.

Module 7  Canadian Agriculture Policy
Our national agricultural policy will be examined and its sustainability assessed. students will write a sustainable agriculture policy for their own localities.

Mode of Instruction
This subject will be delivered via the internet. This involves the use of the online materials and/or text, possible group discussions and consultation with your instructor via email. Students will be responsible for completing all online activities and participating in group discussion and working through textbook questions, as required.
Platform:  Blackboard

Prescribed Texts
Available Online.

Reference Material

Required Supplies
Speakers required

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation
All the academic policies of the College at which you registered apply. This includes, but is not limited to policies related to grading, supplemental exams, deferred exams and accommodations.

Grading is based on the following marking scheme:

Discussion Board Commentaries and Responses 50%
Research Proposal OR Farm Plan Proposal  10%
Research Report OR Farm Plan 40%

No student will be eligible to graduate with a Seneca College certificate or diploma if, in more than 30% of the subjects required for graduation, the student has received a "D" grade.

  • Assignments are due on the date given by the instructor.
  • A late penalty of 10% per day is assessed for late assignments, including those not handed in at the beginning of class when due.
  • Material will not be accepted after one week following the due date and/or when the marked material is returned to students, whichever comes first.
  • Assignments are to be prepared by computer.

Absenteeism and Exams
  • Students who are absent for an examination due to an emergency (e.g., motor vehicle accident, hospitalization or death in the family) may provide official documentation within five days of the missed exam and be provided a deferred exam at a later date.  Official documentation includes a death notice or an original doctor’s certificate identifying the date, length of time expected absence and the specific reason for the absence.  Examinations missed without official documentation and approval result in a grade of zero.
  • There are no deferred options for missed tests.  

English Proficiency
  • All written work should demonstrate the following characteristics for clarity and conciseness:
-writing is consistent with the rules of English grammar
-spelling and punctuation are correct
-sentences are structured correctly
-main ideas are supported with specific, relevant examples and reasons
-work flows logically through supporting statements/paragraphs
-work is arranged in correct format (e.g., as a report, essay)
-up to 10% of the final grade may be deducted on all work if the above English competencies are not met.



Approved by: Sharon Estok