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Agroecology and Agroforestry Practicum
Summer 2009 DRAFT Syllabus

Dates and location:May 18-29 (Nicaragua)
Instructors: Michael Blazewicz, Chris Shanks
Contact information:

Chris Shanks: chris@projectbonafide.com
Mike Blazewicz: 802-279-0478; Michael@roundriverdesign.c
Instructor background:

Chris Shanks has worked in tropical and temperate agro-forestry systems for 10 years. Primarily
focused on research, agro-forestry systems trials, and ecological enhancement work. Chris has
designed and built a 46 acre site dedicated to tropical organic agro-forestry in southwestern
Nicaragua. Internationally, Chris has worked in agro-forestry and related fields in countries such
as: The Bahamas, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, the USVI, Panama, Thailand, the United
States, the south Pacific, and Spain. In addition to running Project Bona Fide and developing
programs in the local community, Chris also designs and installs agroforestry projects all over
western Nicaragua.

Michael Blazewicz has worked on watershed-level planning and restoration projects for over a
decade. Mike has planted thousands of trees in Vermont and abroad and has a diverse
background working with federal, NGO, and private parties on project implementation. Mike
teaches regularly at Yestermorrow and has taught for the Island School, the University of
Vermont, and through frequent public presentations and workshops. He consults on agroforestry
and Permaculture designs and has led installation projects including installation of windbreaks,
orchards, home gardens, and silvo-pastoral plantings with several small businesses. Michael co-
taught an Ecological Design course in Costa Rica for Yestermorrow in 2008 and a Permaculture
Design Course and Agroforestry Course at Finca Bona Fide in 2008.

Course Overview:

Students will travel to Nicaragua for 14 days of study in the practice, application and design of
agro-forestry systems. Focus will be on the agro-forestry systems that are being managed on the
Island of Ometepe by organic coffee growers and the experimental agro-forests of Project Bona
Fide. Students will also visit agro-forestry sites managed by the forestry service of Nicaragua as
well as the fruit markets of Grenada, and many beautiful sites of geologic and anthropologic

Special focus will include: Focus will include: home and commercial food systems, indigenous
forestry practices, medicinal plants, ethno-botany, silvo-pastoral, microclimate development,
buffers, fuel and fiber crops as well as Permaculture and its role in multi-strata agroecosystems.

View photos & explore the farm, research, and teaching center:
Course goals:
At the end of the course students will apply their observations, practice, and learning through the
design and planting of a small agro-forest trial at Project Bona Fide.
Learning Objectives and Outcomes
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of compet

ition and co-operation between
agricultural crops and tree crops well enough to design a functionally effective agro-forestry

2. Understand and recognize the breadth of spatial and temporal relationships in agro-forestry
systems from tropical to temperate regions.
3. Expose students to both quantitative and qualitative methods for evaluating the productivity
of agro-forestry systems.
4. Expose students to the cultural and socio-economic realities of implementing and
maintaining agro-forestry systems as well as their ecological potential for agro-ecosystem
restoration and habitat enhancement.
5. Gain an understanding of agroforestry techniques and survey systems worldwide
6. Gain hands on experience with local, low land tropical agro-forestry systems.
Attendance policies and expectations: Due to the short and intense nature of the course students will

be required to attend all classroom sessions. Students will also be required to participate in all hands on activities related to course material, be present and attentive on all site tours and field trips as well as attend all presentations and films offered during the course.

Student Evaluation/Assessment:
Evaluation/Grading System
The following items will be evaluated and used as a basis for assigning course grades.
Percent of Course Grade
1. Participation in all components of class
2. Plant Research Project
3. Agroforestry Design and presentation
4. Journal\u2013 Reflection questions
Description of class assignments:
1. Students will be evaluated individually for theiracti ve participation in discussions, field trips,
site walks, hands on activities.

2. Individually students will be responsible for researching 4 individual plant species and
presenting their findings to the class. Leaf (and flower if possible) collectings will be made by
each student from plants existing at Bona Fide. The plants will randomly be assigned by the
instructors will consist of an individual from each of the following groups: Nitrogren fixer; Food
producer; Fiber/Fuel producer; Medicinal/Other. Students will press the leave sample at Finca
Bona Fide. In addition to correctly identifying and collecting a sample, students will be
responsible for compiling a brief summary of the plant including but not limited too:

1. Latin Name
2. Common/Local names
3. Plant family
4. Description
5. Distribution
6. Needs/Tolerances

7. Uses in an Agroforestry System

Students will compile and share their 4 individual plant collections to the group.
Utilizing this collective knowledge, students will organize into two groups and will plan and
design an agro-forestry system for a small lot on Bona Fide based on these species. Students will
present their design to the class (including drawings in plan view and cross-section) and then the
design groups will aid one another in planting the very systems that they designed.


During the two-week course students will be assigned a total of 5 questions for which
they will responsible for producing a journal entry into the books provided. Students will be
graded based on their capacity to comprehend the material and think critically about its
application both in the tropics, temperate regions, and around the world. These four journal
entries will be reviewed by the instructors as an additional component of your course grade.
Note: Journal entries may include drawings, diagrams, and text.

Academic Honesty & Professionalism:
All students are required to be familiar with and adhere to the \u201cAcademic Honesty Policy Procedures\u201d
delineated in the most recent edition of \u201cThe Cat\u2019s Tale\u201d. (http://www.uvm.edu/~dosa/handbook/).

In order to diversify our experiences we will be staying at various sites. Students will generally
live in dormitory like rooms or in double occupancy rooms in the local village, Balgue. Students
will also sleep at Finca Bona Fide, our pilot demonstration farm. Several nights will also be
spent at Finca Magdelena, a cooperative organic coffee and eco-tourist facility. We will also
stay in Grenada for a night as well as a final stop at Laguna Apoyo, a beautiful lakeside retreat.

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