University of Kentucky College of Agriculture


Sustainable Agriculture

…integrating appropriate technology from the present with the wisdom of the past…



Students in the Sustainable Agriculture (SAG) Program experience a range of learning opportunities designed to immerse them in the world of sustainable agriculture, through:


  • Sustainable Agriculture Apprenticeship provides students with an experiential learning opportunity through work on the organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm at the Horticultural Research Station in Lexington. Under the supervision of the Course Coordinator and CSA manager, students are trained in production practices including seed germination and transplanting, irrigation, soil fertility and maintenance, pest management, and equipment operation and maintenance. Student responsibilities include the weekly harvest, preparation and delivery of produce to CSA members during the growing season. By overlapping academic semesters, students are introduced to the seasonal nature of market gardening and affords them a broader range of experiences.

  • The capstone course in Sustainable Agriculture is SAG 490, Integration of Sustainable Agriculture Principles. This course provides intensive experience in critical analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data. Students will examine complex scientific and social issues surrounding sustainable agriculture, mainly by reading and discussing significant work in the field. Course materials will demand that students deeply consider substantive ethical issues and global themes. Ultimately, students will be asked to use many kinds of data to evaluate the “sustainability” of different agricultural systems, and to consider the implications of their evaluations. Projects undertaken by students that benefit the community include designing a rooftop garden in a whisky distillery and a garden at a local Montessori school that the students will use for their own CSA, as well as helping to develop a vertical farm downtown - which is a garden within a closed system, and therefore self-sustaining.

  • Students go on week long Study Tours highlighting current sustainable topics that they are interested in. These trips take students around the country, exposing them to successful enterprises that they can adapt for use here while they are still in school, and in their own communities in the future.

  • There are opportunities for students to study abroad. In 2011, for instance, students visited the Pyrenees. Coming up in 2012, students can choose from many destinations, each focusing on sustainable agriculture unique to the area visited such as:  the Czech Republic, Thailand, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Argentina, Scotland, England, Ghana, Brazil and Argentina.

  • Independent research opportunities provide a vehicle by which students conduct independent research related to some aspect of sustainable agriculture under the direction of a faculty mentor. The research may be conducted in the College of Agriculture, another unit on campus, or at an approved off-campus entity.