University offers organic farming course

propane burner for weeds

As organic food becomes a bigger presence on the shelves of major grocery stores, the University of Florida is following suit by expanding the study and research of organic farming. The photograph shows a field technician at the university using a propane burner as a weed killer.

UF officials recently announced the university will be one of the first in the U.S. to offer an organic farming major. A class in organic crop production is being offered for the first time this fall semester as part of the program.

“The organic food industry is maturing and I think you see that in lot of ways,” said Mickie Swisher, co-director of UF’s Center for Organic Agriculture.

The development of national organic standards in 2002 made the UF major possible, said Danielle Treadwell, an assistant horticulture professor teaching the crop production course. Now students can be taught standards that can be applied anywhere in the country, she said.