New horticulture certificate and course

The new Sustainable Small-Scale Food Production Certificate has been created at SPSCC. The horticulture landscape construction class is building a raised-bed vegetable garden on the side of the gymnasium closest to building 34 for the sustainable small-scale food production course.

According to horticulture professor Peter Punzi, the sustainable small-scale food production course focuses on growing specific plants and learning about some of the insect pests and some of the controls, while the new Sustainable Small-Scale Food Production Certificate gives a broader base of knowledge which includes detail about soils, integrated pest management, and business management. It also focuses on edible plants whereas the other Plant Production Certificate focuses on ornamental plants.

The sustainable small-scale food production course is a two quarter series, it starts winter quarter and continues into Spring Quarter. Plants will be grown in the greenhouses during winter quarter, and then will be transferred to the garden at the end of winter quarter or the beginning of spring quarter.

Dan O’ Neill, owner of Great Western Supply, will be donating all the soil and mulch for the raised-bed vegetable garden, and the rest of the supplies cost about $1500.

The garden, once completed, will be used to give horticulture students hands on training in sustainable food production.

“We started a brand new certificate in sustainable food production and so we’re looking for lab space to grow the food,” said horticulture professor Brent Chapman.

“The future for this is going to be food: edible plants, vegetables, and herbs,” said Chapman, “We might have a few ornamentals, but it’s really going to be edible things.”

“It’s really nice that we’re doing sustainable food production with it, I think it’s a step forward,” said Shaun Melvin, a landscape construction student.

The garden was designed by Jaime Lester, a student from the landscape design class last year. “If you look from an aerial view it looks like a radiation symbol,” said Melvin.

Tara Powers, another landscape construction student, came up with the idea to add a handicap accessible planter box. “Everybody no matter what their ability should have access to educational services,” said Chapman, “We want everybody to be able to participate in this program and have equal opportunity.”

Jared Dasho uses a circular saw to prepare lumber for the boxes. Photo by James Egaran

Jared Dasho uses a circular saw to prepare lumber for the boxes.
Photo by James Egaran

Some of the food grown will be used in the cafeteria, and a market stand might be opening for one day a week although it hasn’t been finalized. “They have a huge farm at Evergreen and they have a market stand, so we’ll see if that’ll work for us,” said Chapman.

I think a lot of people just want to eat more healthily and have local organic food, know where their food comes from, and have a part in producing it, said Chapman.

Horticulture’s food production courses start winter quarter 2014, and do not have any prerequisites for enrolling after pre-college requirements are fulfilled.

Students can take the food production course even if they aren’t going for a horticulture degree or for the food production certificate.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for students,” said Punzi, “Learning how to grow your own food is probably one of those skills that you use for the rest of your life.”

Contact Peter Punzi at or Brent Chapman at for more information about enrolling in these or any other horticulture courses starting winter quarter.