Kicking off the 2020 school year, NMU now offers an Indoor Agriculture program that allows students to have a hands-on learning experience of indoor agriculture, as well as pursuing an associate’s degree in the field.
For the fall semester of 2020, NMU launched a two year Indoor Agriculture Associate Degree program in applied science degree and is working towards a four year bachelor’s degree program. Registration for the upcoming winter 2021 courses are already closing in on the cap of 72 student seat capacity, showing a growing interest in the program.
According to NMU’s Technology and Occupational Sciences web page, the Indoor Agriculture Associate Degree is a collaborative and hands-on approach to feature multiple departments and academic programs to create the first known higher education interdisciplinary indoor agriculture program.
“The program will provide students with hands-on, exploration-based learning of indoor agriculture, associated growing and environmental infrastructure systems,” according to the program’s website.
In this program, students will learn about different growing systems like hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics, indoor growing space design and construction, climate-control systems and more which can be found on the current course listing linked above.
Department head Dr. John Centko said through an email that with the population growth, climate concerns, irregular growing seasons and issues such as COVID-19, these challenges provide a need for more efficient and local food production.
“We feel the timing is right because enhanced awareness around food shortages, water conservation and sustainability issues pertaining to food production and processes,” Centko said.
This program will give students the chance to learn hands-on the importance of indoor agriculture and the benefits of implementing more sustainability practices in food production such as indoor urban farming.
“Growing climate and population concerns underscore the need for efficient and sustainable farming practices to help reduce depletion of resources,” according to the program’s website. “Adaptation of indoor, urban farming models to northern climates in multiple structure and building types in order to provide fresh, local food sourcing year-round highlights this program’s push for sustainability.”
Centko also went into detail about the importance of the program where students have a chance to learn the benefits of agriculture, but also learn about entrepreneurialism as well.
“There is a growing need for sustainable, regional and local food sourcing, including farm to table. There are many health and nutritional issues that are eliminated by indoor growing practice,” Centko said. “It will have a positive impact on rural economic development and creation of jobs.”