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Paige Nichols

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905.721.2000 ext. 2603


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Horticulture – Food and Farming

Plants growing in a greenhouse

Horticulture – Food and Farming

Artisan Agriculture

Horticulture – Food and Farming

Artisan Agriculture

Horticulture – Food and Farming

Horticulture – Food and Farming

Grow local!

With 13.5 million people in Ontario eating every day, the food industry is now the province’s largest employer with more than 150,000 employees. Many communities are now looking for creative solutions to feed their own cities through both field and urban agriculture. Whether you are interested in developing a new product for food companies; owning a farm or greenhouse; or operating a garden centre, you will gain skills that will prepare you for a variety of career options.

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Program Description

The Food and Farming program will offer you a hands-on opportunity to become familiar with the concepts of food production.

You will focus on:

  • Plant propagation
  • Soil and plant nutrition
  • Fruit and vegetable production under field, greenhouse, garden and container conditions
  • Product development
  • Food processing including niche processing of local foods
  • Food and agriculture regulations
  • Disease and pest management
  • Business practices including product branding, entrepreneurship and marketing.

It will be offered at the Whitby campus, home of the college’s new Centre for Food. This incredible new learning centre will undergo further expansion to include orchids, agricultural fields, greenhouses and more. Students will also utilize the specialized laboratories at the college’s Oshawa campus and participate in several field trips through the year.

Please note: Students will be required to purchase green tag safety boots in order to participate in many laboratory settings.

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Admission Requirements

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma or Mature Student Status
  • Grade 12 English (C, M or U)
  • Grade 12 mathematics (C, M or U)

Please note: Applicants who do not have the admissions criteria for the Food and Farming program may want to consider applying to Durham College’s General Arts and Science program to better prepare themselves and possibly obtain a transferable/elective credit from the School of Science & Engineering Technology.

For more information, please contact admissions@durhamcollege.ca or 905.721.3000.

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Field to Fork vision

Feld-to-fork is a concept based on the harvesting, storage, processing, packaging, sale and consumption of food – in particular the production of local food for local consumers.

Durham College has adopted this concept and applied it to a diverse range of programs that crossover traditional academic schools with the curriculum, faculty expertise and equipment required to implement field to fork built into several of the college’s programs.

Capitalizing on classroom and lab equipment availability, select courses may be offered at any of our locations including the Oshawa and Whitby campuses and the new Centre for Food (CFF), the heart of the college’s field-to-fork vision.

Development on the CFF, which opened to students in September 2013, is continually underway including extensive landscaping planning for the grounds surrounding the building. This includes plans for a future on-campus orchard, pollinator garden, greenhouse, demonstrator gardens, green roof, agricultural planting zone and arboretum. 

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Career Options

Graduate employment may be found in:

  • Agriculture, garden and food product sales
  • Community and roof-top garden maintenance
  • Environmental and community projects at municipal offices
  • Field production
  • Food inspection
  • Greenhouse production
  • Specialty or national brand food companies
  • Self-employment
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Course List & Descriptions

Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Semester 4

Fruits covered include, but not be limited to, apples, cherries, strawberries, currants, raspberries, grapes and high bush blueberries. Basic nutrition, water and soil conditions and localized microclimates for optimal productions are discussed. Mainstream and organic production practices are covered in parallel as topics are developed. The two hour lab is spent in the greenhouse, lab, field or as extra lecture time as appropriate from week to week.

This course provides a review of the content, context and impact of federal, provincial and municipal legislation and regulations. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations, The Ontario Environmental Protection Act, the Nutrient Management Act, the Pesticides Act, land use planning, the Green Belt Act and their key regulations are covered. Environmental Farm Plan requirements will be studied. Specific applications related to agriculture production, food processing and wastes are emphasized.  Organic certification is covered. Current federal and provincial incentive programs for small business will be examined and strategies to keep current with these programs are explored.

The fundamentals of botany relating to selected horticultural plants in horticulture and urban agriculture are taught in conjunction with plant pathology and entomology. Topics include the most common plant diseases in horticulture in the region with emphasis on identification, nomenclature, life cycles, damage recognition and basic evaluation, and management of the diseases.   Also, the common insect pests in the region are covered with emphasis on identification, nomenclature, life cycles, damage recognition and management of the insects.   

This course introduces the principles of the propagation of major horticulture field crops in the region.  Basic coverage of crops such as tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkins, squash and some ethnic vegetables are presented.  Production of selected herbs will be covered. Species that are particularly appropriate for community, home and balcony gardens will be discussed.  Basic nutrition, water and growing condition requirements will be addressed.  Mainstream and organic production practices will be covered in parallel as topics are developed. This course will involve the lecture room, greenhouse, field or laboratory as appropriate from week to week.

Technical Communication is the “art and science of making complex technical information accessible, usable and relevant to most people in most settings.”  This course reinforces and expands on technical communication skills introduced in first semester, which students will require in the workplace. Students will learn to select and use appropriate research, language, and layout for different technical documents, while further developing their written and verbal communication skills and their ability to work in a team.

Elective general education courses appear in your program of study as GNED 0000. This is called a “placeholder.” This placeholder is replaced by an actual course that you will select from a list of available "elective" general education courses when you register in the relevant semester.

Please note that the type and number of elective courses available will vary from semester to semester and from year to year.

Please visit the General Education website for more information.

This course includes both lecture and laboratory components. The lecture sessions deal with the practical aspects of chemical principles as they apply to foods. The laboratory sessions relate to applications of chemistry and development of the hands-on basic techniques and skills necessary for analysis. Topics include matter, atomic structure, chemical bonding, nomenclature, chemical formulae, the mole, simple chemical reactions and solution chemistry. An emphasis is placed on developing problem solving skills.

This course introduces the student to the diversity of the microbial world associated with foods. The growth, reproduction and enumeration of microorganisms are studied as well as the effects of chemical and physical agents on microbial growth. The relationship between microbes and good and their human hosts to food borne disease is also studied. The laboratory component provides hands on experience in the aseptic techniques necessary to work in a food microbiology lab. Students use these techniques to enumerate both pathogenic and non-pathogenic organism found in food.

Students will refresh and develop their skills in fundamental mathematics applying appropriate methods and formulas to their calculations. Examples and typical workplace calculations from the horticulture and agriculture industry will be used to enhance their analytical ability to solve problems.  Students are introduced to business math.

Topics of timely interest within value-added agriculture are presented in modules and will include, but not be limited to, natural toxins in foods, brief basic introduction to organic agriculture (expanded upon in other courses), traceability in foods, quality management, human resource management, risk management and safety plans.  The topics covered have direct or indirect implications to other courses and are presented here so that the fundamentals of these concepts can be enhanced in various ways as applicable.  

The goal of this course is two-fold.  Primarily it assists students in developing a well planned and organized job search plan. In order to accomplish this, students develop professional cover letters, resumes, portfolios and career action plans. The second goal of this course is to introduce students to subject matter which will assist them to meet today’s workforce challenges. An introduction of Organizational Behaviour is explored including; Understanding and working with management to attain company and career goals, working and communicating in a team environment, functioning and managing stress in today’s workplace and understanding why organizational change and development take place.

Students study about geology, soil formation and the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils in central Ontario where horticulture crops are common.  Soil management, minimizing erosion and the fundamentals of plant nutrition and fertilization of crops will be presented. Fundamental environmental impacts of various management systems will be examined.  Students are introduced to the agricultural industry and the horticulture sector of that industry.  A brief history of the development of agriculture and agricultural organizations and agencies is presented.

This course examines the fundamental biochemical and functional properties of water, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, and minerals in foods.  The roles of enzymes, food additives (such as colours, flavours, preservatives, and sweeteners) and textures will be studied as related to the properties of foods and food processing.Students use techniques and equipment found in the food industry to analyse specialty foods and food ingredients.  Students will become familiar with principles and practices of quality assurance.

This course builds on the knowledge gained in Food Microbiology 1 and presents more specific information relating to the food sectors.  Students will study how to promote the growth of specific desirable species and control the growth of others to eliminate the spoilage and facilitate the creation of a marketable product.  The scaling up concept, from bench top to production mode is dependent on a solid knowledge of microbiology.

This course is designed to discuss foods, their quality parameters and the principles of niche food processing and food safety. The course will concentrate on products derived from plants and will include, but not be limited to fruit and vegetable beverages, jams, jellies and pickles.  Subjects covered include: major and minor food components, unit operations, quality factors, deteriorative factors of food, heat & cold preservation and processing, food safety plans, traceability and an introduction to how to set up a basic HACCP program.

Elective general education courses appear in your program of study as GNED 0000. This is called a “placeholder.” This placeholder is replaced by an actual course that you will select from a list of available "elective" general education courses when you register in the relevant semester.

Please note that the type and number of elective courses available will vary from semester to semester and from year to year.

Please visit the General Education website for more information.

Placement is considered an important part as a technologist’s education, and student are required to obtain a minimum of 80 hours on the job placement in their chosen field and 5 hours of required workshops. There is no formal set of topics of instruction for placement but it must provide the student with practical experience in their chosen field. Each placement will be different as there will be a variety of organizations participating.

Students may achieve their placement requirement in various ways by completing one of the following:

  1. A summer position after second year related to their field of study.
  2. Working one day a week during the fall or winter academic school year.
  3. Working during a block period of time such as the Christmas break, Reading week or in May after all courses work is completed.
  4. Completing an internship for 4,8,12 or 16 months.
  5. Applying for a prior work experience with proper approval and documentation.

Placement is approached as an actual job, with students attending interviews and being selected for positions by the employer. Students are to perform as technologists in training. A satisfactory completion is mandatory in order to graduate from Durham College.

This course focuses on the basic stages of product development for food products. Over the course of the semester, the students use their creativity, enhance their experiential evolution and begin to hone their craftsmanship in the development of a “new” food product complete with packaging. They will become familiar with government regulations concerning the packaging, labelling, food inspection and introduction of a new food product. They will also be introduced to tools such as MS Project as a planning tool and Genesis SLQ as a labelling aid. The product development of nutraceuticals, functional food and novel foods and such as genetically modified foods will also be discussed.

This course covers various aspects of food processing. Topics are covered from a general point of view with descriptive material provided for representative applications. Major topics covered include, but are not limited to, dehydration and concentration processes, sterilization systems, microwave heating, food fermentations, packaging materials, food additives, vitamin addition and some specific food commodities.

Elective general education courses appear in your program of study as GNED 0000. This is called a “placeholder.” This placeholder is replaced by an actual course that you will select from a list of available "elective" general education courses when you register in the relevant semester.

Please note that the type and number of elective courses available will vary from semester to semester and from year to year.

Please visit the General Education website for more information.

The basic concepts of energy efficient greenhouses will be studied along with programmable control systems regulating temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, irrigation, fertilization and other variables.  Various energy systems will be examined including biomass, cogeneration greenhouses and traditional natural gas systems.  This course will be presented with two 2-hour blocks so that faculty can use the lecture room, greenhouse, field or laboratory as appropriate from week to week.  Further experience will be gained in managing plant production in greenhouses.

Students will be invited to evaluate opportunities in the horticulture sector that could be developed into successful business activities.  Capital costs, operational costs, financing, time for capital pay back, return on investment and other important financial considerations will be analyzed in a similar format that would be undertaken by a company pondering investments in new facilities, expansion or equipment. Leveraging opportunities, conducting market research, financing start-ups and ongoing management, such as inventory management and budgeting, will be discussed.  Marketing and sales strategies for both goods and services sectors will be investigated.  Business application of spreadsheets will also be studied.                 

This course studies the anticipation, prevention, observation and intervention involved in integrated pest management in the field and greenhouse.  Proper residue and waste management, cultural practices, maintenance, biological and mechanical control techniques and pesticide application will be considered.  As a secondary focus, weed control in greenhouse and field, for various key crops, will be studied.  Pesticide options will be discussed with timing and safe handling, storage and use being studied.   Upon completion of this course the student can choose to write the exam for the Ministry of Environment Pesticide License. Also, students will study the specific needs of growing indoor plants for homes, offices or solariums.

Placement is considered an important part as a technologist’s education, and student are required to obtain a minimum of 80 hours on the job placement in their chosen field and 5 hours of required workshops. There is no formal set of topics of instruction for placement but it must provide the student with practical experience in their chosen field. Each placement will be different as there will be a variety of organizations participating.

Students may achieve their placement requirement in various ways by completing one of the following:

  1. A summer position after second year related to their field of study.
  2. Working one day a week during the fall or winter academic school year.
  3. Working during a block period of time such as the Christmas break, Reading week or in May after all courses work is completed.
  4. Completing an internship for 4,8,12 or 16 months.
  5. Applying for a prior work experience with proper approval and documentation.

Placement is approached as an actual job, with students attending interviews and being selected for positions by the employer. Students are to perform as technologists in training. A satisfactory completion is mandatory in order to graduate from Durham College.

Courses and course descriptions are for the next academic year and are subject to change.

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Program Costs

 YEAR ONE FEESDomesticInternational
Tuition$2,687$12,178
Compulsory Ancillary$1,057$1,617
Program Incidental$200$200
Total Fees:$3,945$13,995

Please note: fees are based on the 2014-2015 academic year and do not include textbooks. For more information please see Other fees to consider.

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Field Placements

A work placement opportunity is highly encouraged to be  completed  during the summer between year one and two of the program. However there will be other opportunities to do so in the second year of the program.

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Opportunities For Degree Completion Or Additional Credentials

Qualified graduates may be eligible to apply their academic credits toward further study through Durham College’s partnerships with many Canadian and international colleges and universities. 

Graduates of this program are eligible to apply to Fleming College's Sustainable Agriculture Co-op program that has a pathway to Trent University.

Please visit the Transfer Guide for more information.

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PROGRAM AT-A-GLANCE
  • Program length: Two-year
  • Credential awarded: Ontario College Diploma
  • Location: Primary location Whitby (some courses may be offered in Oshawa)
  • School: School of Science & Engineering Technology (SET)
  • Domestic tuition: $2,687 (CDN)
  • Intake Statuses
    • Program intake status is Open Open: January 2015
    • Program intake status is Open Open: September 2015
  • International Intake Statuses
    • Program intake status is Closed Closed: January 2015
    • Program intake status is Closed Closed: September 2015
  • ontariocolleges.ca code: AAGR
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