The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

Growing Organically Since 1982

Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care

January 6, 2020 (All day) to January 9, 2020 (All day)
Hampshire College
893 West St.
Amherst, MA

NOFA Members: $500 / Non-members: $600

Register Online 

This 30-hour, 4-day course for land care professionals, master gardeners, and garden educators provides a complete grounding in the principles and practices of creating and maintaining naturally beautiful organic landscapes. 

Over the course of four days, attendees will gain detailed knowledge on ecological soil health, organic fertilizers, mulching, natural pest control, site analysis, organic turfgrass management and lawn alternatives, stormwater management, marketing to the organic marketplace, and more.  

The curriculum is based on NOFA’s internationally-recognized Standards for Land Care: Practices for Design and Maintenance of Ecological Landscapes.These Standards, first published in 2001 and revised semi- annually, extend the vision and practices of organic agriculture to the care of landscapes where we live, work, and play. 

Who should attend the course?

Landscapers - Designers - Landscape Architects - Garden Center employees - Municipal employees - Parks and Recreation employees - Land trust staff - Property managers - Master gardeners -   Horticulturists - Horticulture and Landscape teachers - Entrepreneurs and new business owners

Are there pre-requisites for the course? 

We have designed the course for professionals who have at least 5 years of experience and/or college level science studies. We expect students to be familiar with plant identification and landscaping maintenance practices. Pre-reading is not required, however reading  the Standards in preparation for the course will allow you to absorb more information. 

What is Accreditation? 

At the end of the course, students will take a 50 question, multiple-choice exam. Upon passing with a score of 70% or higher, students become an Accredited Organic Land Care Professional (AOLCP)   which is a marketable credential offering many benefits. Join over 500 AOLCPs from over 20 States! Learn more about Accreditation

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Detailed Course Agenda:

Day 1, January 6, 2020 NOFA Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care

9:00-10:00 AM, Registration and Welcome

10:00-12:00 PM, Mike Nadeau: Site Analysis, Design and Maintenance

  • Be able to identify the key elements of a site
  • Learn about the ecology of the site from these elements
  • Learn how to avoid potentially harmful land use decisions
  • Understand plants and soils as an interdependent living system
  • Comprehend the importance of the right plant in the right place
  • Learn how to design the landscape management program to work with existing ecosystem
  • Learn methods and techniques of organic land care maintenance
  • Learn about the factors that affect water management
  • Learn when and how to water for efficiency
  • Discuss key issues with irrigation maintenance

12:00-1:00 PM, Lunch

1:00-200 PM, Mike Nadeau: Lawn Alternatives

  • Why a lawn? Expand upon the opportunities of where it’s not necessary to mow, spray, irrigate or fertilize a lawn. Identify cultural conditions appropriate for these lawn alternatives.

  • Discussion about plants that are used instead of lawn for low-maintenance, that require minimal input, and those that can tolerate some degree of foot traffic/play. Discussion on cultural conditions for these plants that are non-invasive species.

2:00-3:00 PM, Mike Nadeau: Invasive Plant Control

  • Understand what an invasive plant is and the problems caused by invasive plants in both managed and natural landscapes
  • Be able to identify the most common invasive plants in the Northeast region and to locate invasive plant lists for your state
  • Identify common management problems and ways to solve them
  • Be able to successfully remove and control the spread of invasive plants on clients’ properties without causing further damage

3:00-3:15 PM, Break

3:15-4:15 PM, Mike Nadeau: Mulches

  • Understand why mulch is used
  • Learn about the varied forms of mulch materials
  • Comprehend the advantages and disadvantages of different mulch materials • Learn the proper application of mulch materials
  • Learn how different mulches affect sustainability

Day 2 NOFA Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care

9:00-10:00 AM, Paul Wagner: Soil Fundamentals

  • Understand the components that makeup soil
  • Understand how these components result in water movement, aggregation, nutrient cycling • Understand nutrient pools in soil: soluble, exchangeable, total
  • Learn what a soil profile is and what it means
  • Learn how climate and disturbance affect soil development
  • Briefly review how interactions of soil components affect plant diseases and pests
  • How soil properties should be assessed (testing)

10:00-11:00 AM, Paul Wagner: Soil Health

  • Know the definition of soil vs. dirt
  • Learn the distinguishing characteristics of healthy soil: How to define "normal" • Learn the balances needed for healthy plant growth
  • Understand soil sampling procedures
  • Become familiar with Soil Biology and Soil Chemistry tests

11:00-11:15 AM, Break

11:15-12:15 PM, Paul Wagner: Soil Biology and Ecology

  • Learn about soil life function; impacts on diseases, pests, fertility, structure • Understand what controls nutrient availability to plants
  • Learn the consequences of human management practices on soil function • Detecting problems with soil biology

12:15-1:15 PM, Lunch

1:15-2:15, Paul Wagner: Organic Fertilizer and Amendments

  • Be aware of the reasons that fertilizers, organic or inorganic, and amendments become necessary
  • Learn basic nutrient cycles: How nutrients become available to plants
  • Learn the reasons that old growth forests flourish for hundreds of years without any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or other inputs
  • Understand how nutrients are held in soil and why they are lost from dirt
  • Learn what determines nutrient availability, testing for nutrients excess or lack, fixing
    nutrient excess or limitation
 Day 3, January 8, 2020 NOFA Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care 

9:00-10:30 AM, Dan Jaffe: Planting and Plant Care

  • Follow Preferred and Allowed procedures for removing unwanted vegetation
  • Be able to prepare a planting bed based on soil test recommendations using organic materials, site
    conditions and types of plants
  • Learn organic cultural practices to maintain and enhance plantings
  • Tools and equipment
  • Learn how and what to consider to water most efficiently as the plant species requires
  • Learn to select, prepare and plant bare root, containerized and B&B plant materials

10:30-10:45 AM, Break

10:45-12:15 PM, Tom Barry: Introduction to Turf

Participants will:

  • Learn why organic lawn care is better than chemical based lawn care
  • Be familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of various grass types
  • Learn the characteristics of indicator weeds and how to control them without using poisons.
  • Learn about proper mowing, watering, seeding, fertilizing, composting and compost teas in lawns
  • Learn about the special needs of soil for lawns

12:15-1:15 PM, Lunch

1:15-2:45 PM, Tom Barry: Pest Management

Participants will:

  • Be able to recognize the major insect pests of turf
  • Be able to know the methods for monitoring these pests’ activity
  • Be able to know the available cultural, chemical and biological control measures available for control
    of these pests
  • Be able to match management tools with particular pests
  • Understand the limitations for organic management of certain turf grass insect pest

2:45-3:00 PM, Break

3:00-5:00 PM, Monique Bosch: Compost & Compost Tea

  • Learn how compost, disease and pest suppression, nutrient retention, soil structure building and weed reduction are related
  • Learn about different recipes (starting materials)
  • Understand how compost management practices affect compost quality
  • Understand how to make sure human pathogen, plant pathogen, pests or weed seeds can be prevented
  • Be able to assess compost quality
  • Learn how to use compost, compost extract and compost tea
  • Learn critical production factors to assure no pathogen problems
  • Assessing extract / tea quality
Day 4, NOFA Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care
9:00-11:00 AM, Trevor Smith: Stormwater Management
  • Understand and assess how water moves through natural and developed landscapes
  • Identify potential sources of pollutants affecting residential landscapes
  • Identify appropriate and inappropriate sites for storm water infiltration
  • Select appropriate planting materials and mulches
  • Learn the definition of Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI)
  • Learn how site characteristics, regulations, and client desires shape GSI design
  • Become familiar with different land-water-plant based systems through case studies
  • Learn about common challenges when constructing and maintaining GSI practices
  • Learn about how GSI design choices can impact maintenance of these systems

11:00-11:15 AM, Break

11:15-12:15 PM, Frank Crandall: The Business of Organic Land Care

Participants will:

  • Discuss the major factors in completing an estimate including: labor costs, material costs, equipment and vehicle costs and overhead cost.
  • Demonstrate the Retail Estimating Method
  • Distinguish between Markup and Margin
  • Use job costing to verify if your projects are profitable
  • Describe what Triple Bottom Line is and how to use it in horticultural businesses
1:15-1:30 PM Lunch
1:30 PM Review
Final Exam

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