Skip to main content
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Minor

CSS 224: Sustainable Farm & Food System Field Course

This is a 1-credit experiential field course, exploring interdisciplinary approaches to analyzing Michigan’s agricultural and food system operations that are working to achieve greater sustainability. The course emphasizes field visits, with a few campus class meetings to prepare for and process after field visits.

See what SAFS Field Visits have to offer!

This class can fill up, so enroll early! Contact the SAFS advisor for course or enrollment questions.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand multiple farm and food system elements, including agronomic, economic, social, labor, policy and scale factors that affect choices
  • Interact with farmers and food system professionals to better understand the opportunities and constraints of their businesses
  • Engage in discourse about agriculture and food systems, especially regarding sustainability factors and the resilience of the individual ans system actors
  • Recognize the strengths and shortcomings of different approaches to studying and analyzing agriculture and food systems

Course Design

We will have two full-day farm field trips, one partial-day food system field trip.

We will leave in the morning from campus, and return by 6pm for full field trip days.

Please dress appropriately for Michigan’s unpredictable weather and the field venues of the day. You may want to bring additional money for products available at our sites.

We will also have required preparation times in-class before each field trip, as well as course discussion and assignments after.

Meeting Times

2020 Field Trip dates (tentative - subject to update): SATURDAYS Sept. 12, Sept. 19th, and Oct. 3rd 2020 Course Meeting dates (subject to update): FRIDAYS Sept. 4, 18, 25, and Oct. 9th & 16th Class will officially end by Oct. 31. 2020

Materials and Fees

Reading Materials

Background on the farm and food system sites we visit and any additional materials will be posted on the D2L site.


Please contact the SAFS advisor with any concerns you may have, and we will work to accommodate you to our greatest ability. Please understand that we will be visiting farms and facilities that may not fall under the ADA. While we may be limited in ability to modify accessibility at times during the field trips, we have and will continue to make as many opportunities available as possible.


Field trips will include two full Saturday visits to eight farms in Michigan, a partial day visit to food system sites such as food distributors and processors, and retail site visits on your own.

Reflections after each field trip will be shared with the class via the D2L discussion board. Students are expected to post and respond to other students.

Course Meetings will be held to prepare, process, and discuss questions and insights gained during the field trips

Blogs reviewing a student-selected topic related to each field visit allow you to explore an area of interest.


Course Evaluation Criterion Points
Attendance, Participation and Professionalism in field visits
- Field Trip 1 - farm visits 100 points
- Field Trip 2 - farm visits 100 points
- Field Trip 3 - food system visists 100 points
- Field Trip 4 - retail visits (on your own) 100 points
- Farm & Food System Questions (Prep - first meeting) 50 points
- Field Trip Reflections (4) 200 points
Course meetings & discussion (4) 200 points
Blog Entry 100 points
Total Possible Points 950 points