October 25, 2010
This fall, students at the University of Maine at Fort Kent are learning about four-season organic growing in a new course being taught by Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Dr. Kim Borges-Therien. The course, Introduction to Four Season Organic Growing (ENV240) is a one-credit course that introduces fundamental concepts of organic growing in a mobile, unheated greenhouse environment.
In Introduction to Four Season Organic Growing, students are learning about the importance of day length and temperature on plant growth, and will gain knowledge of principles of soil building using organic techniques. Students also will develop an understanding of how to grow vegetables and herbs in a mobile greenhouse, including planning for multiple harvests using intensive cropping techniques.
Students will apply the knowledge they learn in Introduction to Four Season Organic Growing to develop a year-round planting and harvesting plan for a UMFK greenhouse that considers appropriate cold-hardy crop choices, and that times the planting and harvesting to be in harmony with the seasons. A greenhouse is planned for the UMFK campus in the spring.
Field trips to the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine and also to Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine have been highlights of the course.
Students in the course use the textbook, The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-round vegetable production using deep-organic techniques and unheated greenhouses, by Eliot Coleman. Coleman has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of organic farming, including field vegetables, greenhouse vegetables, rotational grazing of cattle and sheep, and range poultry. He is co-owner of Four Season Farm, along with his wife, Barbara Damrosch.