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Minnesota State College Southeast
A Technical & Community College

Sustainable Food and Farming - AAS

Career Area: Business & Management
Program: Sustainable Food and Farming
Campus(es): Winona/Red Wing

If you're seeking a personally fulfilling career with sustainability in mind, consider Sustainable Food and Farming at Minnesota State College Southeast in Winona.

In Southeast Minnesota and nearby Wisconsin, tall limestone bluffs rise above the Mississippi River while creeks and rivers wind their way through steep valleys. This fragile landscape demands special care when used for agriculture, posing unique challenges and opportunities for farmers. That's why Winona, MN, is an exceptional location for studying sustainability.

The two-year Sustainable Food and Farming Associate of Applied Science degree revolves around four main areas: general education, small business skills, agriculture technical science, and agriculture trade skills.

In Sustainable Food and Farming, the "triple bottom line" of economic prosperity, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship are valued equally:

  • Economic prosperity: Business and marketing classes will prepare you for managing a small business enterprise or farm successfully. Practical, hands-on training in maintenance and use of farm equipment is part of the curriculum.
  • Social responsibility: Learn how the production of natural and organic agricultural products can meet the growing public demand for healthy, whole foods, farm-to-table marketing, and local products.
  • Environmental stewardship: Understand agricultural systems that utilize biodiversity, restoration, and permaculture design while preventing water contamination and soil loss.

Your studies conclude with practical experience working on a farm or other agricultural/food production setting, where you will be involved in all aspects of operations, from business planning to physical labor. Expect to get your hands dirty even as you learn from an established mentor what it takes to succeed in running a sustainability based farm!

Apply now for admission to MSC Southeast

Download the Program Plan


1) Must complete a minimum of 3 different MnTC goals in Liberal Arts and Sciences

2) 1100 or higher Liberal Arts and Sciences courses required unless specified

Goal 1: Written and Oral Communications
Recommend College Writing I
3 cr
Goal 3: Natural Science
Recommend Environmental Chemistry
3 cr
Goal 4: Mathematics
Recommend Intro to Statistics
3 cr
Goal 6: Humanities and Fine Arts
Choose from any – see advisor
3 cr
Goal 9: Ethical and Civic Responsibility
Recommend Personal Finance
3 cr
15 crs
Financial Accounting
This course covers the fundamental accounting concepts and principles which are used in a business environment to provide reports on the economic condition of an organization. The focus will be on the accrual method of accounting, utilizing Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to analyze and record transactions. The ultimate objective is to understand the effects of these transactions in order to provide timely and relevant information in the form of financial statements. (Prerequisite: none) (4 credits: 4 lecture/0 lab)

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4 cr
Farm Safety
In this course, students will focus on safety as it relates to proper operation of a variety of common agricultural situations, tools, and implements. Students will be provided an overview of the major risks and hazards in the agricultural setting and will explore best practices injuries and accidents. The course will include a strong hands-on component where students will demonstrate proper equipment operation and maintenance, and the course will culminate with students designing a customized farm safety plan. (Prerequisite: None) (2 Credits: 1 lecture/1 lab)

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2 cr
Animal Science
This course offers basic knowledge in understanding the important role of domestic animals in agriculture. Reproduction, Nutrition, Growth/Development and Health will be the overarching modules of the course. These will apply to the study of selected animal species (Ruminant, monogastric, avian) that will be considered in the second half of the course. Class time will be spent in lecture, lab and field trips to farms and livestock operations in order to foster learning. Special consideration will be given to sustainable and regenerative practices integrating animals to a diversified farm. (Prerequisite: none) (3 Credits: 2 lecture/1 lab)

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3 cr
Crop Science
This course blends basic knowledge in plant science, embracing horticulture, crop science and agroforestry, in order to provide students with the broadest understanding about the important role played by plants in modern, sustainable farms. Origin of cultivated plants, their propagation techniques (sexual, asexual), their agronomic needs, harvest and fruits/seed conservation will be the main, general topics to be taught in the first half of the semester. Selected herbaceous (corn, soybean, barley, sunflower, fodder crops) and arboreal crops (apple, plum, grapes, hazelnut) valuable for Southeastern Minnesota agriculture will be considered in the second half of the course. Special consideration will be given to sustainable and regenerative practices integrating crops in a diversified farm. (Prerequisite: BIOL1240 and BIOL2240) (3 Credits)

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3 cr
Agriculture Practicum
For this course, students will be assigned to a farm or other agricultural/food production setting for a total of 150 hours. The student must complete the hours in not less than four weeks and not more than 16 weeks as determined by the faculty mentor. Students will apply practical skills including such activities as design and planning, equipment operations, harvesting, animal husbandry, budgeting, and farm management, as applicable to the site. It is expected that students will be involved in all aspects of operation including physical labor and machine operations. Students will complete the course under the direct guidance of the faculty mentor in consultation with the supervising farmer mentor. At the end of the course, students will give a presentation describing their experience and outlining new skills and knowledge obtained. (Prerequisite: AGRI1100, BIOL1240, BIOL 1241, AGRI 1201, and AGRI2200) (3 Credits: 0 lecture/0 lab/3 OJT)

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3 cr
Introduction to Agroecology
This course provides an introduction to the theory of agroecology and the current practices of sustainable agriculture. The components of farm management will be studied within the context of a complex ecosystem. Class time will be spent in lecture, lab, field studies and field trips to integrate concepts in agroecology, with actual practices in sustainable agriculture. (Prerequisite: none) (4 credits: 3 lecture/1 lab)

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4 cr
Soil Science
This course is an introduction to soil studies with focus on agricultural soils. Main emphasis of the course will be studying soil health as the balanced condition among soil chemical, physical and biological characteristics, to be achieved through sustainable soil management. Class time will be spent in lecture, lab exercises and field studies to foster learning about agricultural soils. (Prerequisite: CHEM 1010) (4 Credits: 3 lecture/1 lab)

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4 cr
Small Business Development
A study of current theory and practice relating to starting and managing small firms. It provides a comprehensive coverage of critical small business issues, numerous real-world examples to help students understand how to apply the business management concepts presented in the text, and incorporates material to help them explore small business issues in the Internet. (Prerequisite: None) (3 credits: 3 lecture/0 lab)

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3 cr
Legal Environment of Business
This course introduces students to ethical theory and decision-making models, as well as to the legal framework in which American business operates, the substantive legal rules that govern American business, domestically and internationally, and the ethical and social responsibility implications of business conduct within the legal environment. Governmental efforts to regulate business activity by statute and administrative agency rules and decisions are emphasized. (Prerequisite: none) (3 credits: 3 lecture/0 lab)

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3 cr
Principles of Management
This course provides a survey of the traditional functions of management with primary emphasis on planning, organizing, controlling, and leading. This emphasis involves coverage of managerial decision making, leadership, motivation, interpersonal communication, staffing human resources, and organizational structure, design, and change and development. Additional topics include the history of managerial thought, management information systems, international management, and business ethics and social responsibility. (Prerequisite: none) (3 credits: 3 lecture/0 lab)

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3 cr
Principles of Marketing
An introduction to the study of marketing in business and other organizations. Topics include: the marketing environment, marketing strategies and decision-making, marketing ethics and the international dimension of marketing strategy. (Prerequisite: none) (3 credits: 3 lecture/0 lab)

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3 cr
Emerging Construction Technologies 1
This course provides knowledge of new tools, methods, and equipment being used in the construction industry (Prerequisite: none) (2 credits: 1 lecture/1 lab)

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2 cr
Introduction to Diesel Technology
This course is designed as a prerequisite for all technical diesel courses. This course covers the basics of the diesel industry. It will cover employer expectations as well as common working conditions. (Prerequisite: none) (2 credits: 1 lecture/1 lab)

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2 cr
Introduction to DC Electricity
This course covers the general information, theory, and problem-solving techniques required for an analysis of DC circuits with emphasis on the meter measurements, current flow, and voltage division. (Prerequisite: Proficient in basic math) (2 credits: 1 lecture/1 lab)

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2 cr
Straight Truck Proficiency
The Class "B" license can put you in the driver's seat of a dump truck, a delivery truck, or a van! If you are 18 years of age or older here is an opportunity to operate a straight truck with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) if 26,000 pounds or more. This hands-on course is designed to give you actual driving experience. In the final class, you take the test for your CDL Class B license. Students must have a Class B permit with air brakes to start the class. Students from Wisconsin need a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical before the start of the class. Arrangements can be made to take the Wisconsin test for an additional fee. Enroll early, class size is limited. (2 credits: 1 lecture/1 lab) (Prerequisite: CDL Class B Permit Required)

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2 cr
Individualized Welding Skills Lab
This course is a hand-on, open laboratory time available to both the skilled and unskilled welder for the opportunity to improve or develop his/her welding application skills. Students will have access to SMAW (stick), GMAW (MIG), FCAW (flux-cored), and GTAW (TIG) welding processes. Enhancement and/or introduction of all 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G welding positions will also be encouraged to help broaden the welder's abilities. (Prerequisite: Instructor interview and approval required) (2 credits: 0 lecture/2 lab) (4 hour lab session)

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2 cr
45 crs

Total Credits Required for this Major: 60 Credits

Estimated Costs for this Major

Approximate Tuition/Fees:$11,675
Minimum Tool Cost:N/A
Estimated Total:$11,675


Career Opportunities

  • Farm owner or manager
  • Direct marketing of natural, locally grown foods
  • Small business management
  • Natural resources manager

Career Information


Sustainable Food and Farming AAS graduates will be able to:

  • Demonstrate safe and effective use of a variety of agricultural equipment
  • Incorporate principles of soil science, crop science, and animal science into an agricultural system
  • Design small-scale diversified farming systems which account for long-term, short-term, and seasonal production
  • Implement integrated farming practices that promote healthy soil, ecologically sound nutrient management, and sustainability
  • Develop a sound business plan for a family farm or small-scale agricultural operation
  • Understand the economic, social, and environmental impacts of agricultural practices in Southeast Minnesota


  • Developed in cooperation with national and regional experts in the field of Sustainable Agriculture
  • Teaches practical, hands-on skills such as welding, electronics, and truck driving
  • Includes marketing and business planning as an integral part of the curriculum
  • Practicum in the field provides teaches critical thinking and problem solving in the agricultural setting


Elizabeth (Liz) Micheel

  • B.S. Biology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
  • M.S. Biology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Liz Micheel has been with MSC Southeast since fall 2010. In 2009, Liz left her seasonal position as a wildland firefighter in Idaho to begin a career as a teacher. Now a permanent faculty member at the college, Liz continues to do wildland firefighting in the summer and prescribed burning locally in the spring. She is active in Sustain Winona and is involved in the area equine community as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Liz enjoys spending time on her hobby farm with her goats, chickens, horses, and of course, her family.


Other Majors in the Sustainable Food and Farming program

Farm Maintenance Certificate CERT



© 2020 Minnesota State College Southeast

RED WING CAMPUS | 308 Pioneer Road | Red Wing, MN 55066 | 651-385-6300
WINONA CAMPUS | 1250 Homer Road | Winona, MN 55987 | 507-453-2700

Minnesota State College Southeast is an affirmative action/equal opportunity educator and employer. ADA accessible. MSC Southeast is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination in employment and education opportunity. No person shall be discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment, personnel practices, or access to and participation in, programs, services, and activities with regard to race, sex, color, creed, religion, age, national origin, disability, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, or sexual orientation. In addition, discrimination in employment base on membership or activity in a local commission as defined by law is prohibited.


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