Beginner Farmer Education: Small Farming For The Future OF Food Security


This course explores the ins and outs of food production using a regenerative urban farm model. The course is for both beginner farmers and classroom teachers interested in farm to school programming.

Globally, the agricultural sector is the largest cause of habitat loss, aquifer depletion, and greenhouse gas emissions. The need to transform agricultural systems to meet the needs of the world’s growing population while addressing these ecological impacts is one of the 21st century’s grand challenges.

Restoration Agriculture for the Future of Food Security presents the ins and outs of food production using a regenerative urban farm model. It offers an in-depth farm curriculum for both the beginner farmer and the classroom teacher interested in farm to school (or school to farm) programming.

The course will include principles, concepts, and practices of sustainable food production including 1) biodiversity, soil quality, symbionts, and mutualism, and 2) nutrient, water, pest, and disease management while focusing on a production culture that is environmentally regenerative. Every class meeting will involve experiential learning that will build students’ skills in growing healthy food in a way that protects and restores the earth. This class will also address the environmental and social consequences of industrial farming and the public health impacts of quality food accessibility in communities.

Coursework includes organic annual and perennial food production practices and small animal husbandry and addresses the challenges of food security in our communities. Farm mentors will provide experience in organic vegetable and fruit production with small (limited) livestock management and beekeeping. Students will be actively engaged in the entire food production cycle from planning to preserving.

Our educational components include CSA membership, lectures, demonstrations, movies, field presentations, and off-site farm visits. Students will gain practical farming and food preserving skills and an understanding of sustainable food systems that influence personal and environmental health.

Throughout the course, participants will:

  • Gain an understanding of the role of sustainable agriculture in environmental restoration
  • Assess the consequences of industrial farming in relation to climate change and food justice.
  • Acquire a core set of skills for addressing the problem of local access to quality food, including:
  1. Selection of the most appropriate seasonal crops
  2. Creating sustainable fertility systems
  3. Management of insects, weeds, and disease
  4. Season extension
  5. alternative energy applications
  • Gain knowledge of the current agricultural system and the advantages of sustainable/regenerative agriculture.


Theri Niemier is the Regenerative Agriculture Education Specialist at Good Shepherd Montessori School (GSMS). Theri founded Bertrand Farm in 1996 and has been teaching and farming in the local community for over 25 years. She has a sociology background and strong interest in environmental stewardship and health, which has led to her specialty in curriculum development for classes and schools. Theri is also a certified Permaculture Designer and a Master Canner. She is the recipient of numerous agriculture education project awards and grants and was named the 2019 conservation educator of the year in St. Joseph County.




Option ISummer 2023

Cost: $1,575


  • 12 Fridays classes on the GSMS urban farm, June 2–August 18, 2023, 8:00 am–4:00 pm
  • Off-campus farm visits to be scheduled on additional dates as agreed upon
  • All educational materials 
  • One CSA membership  
  • Participation in all farming education offered in 2023 at GSMS (see the full list here).


Option IIOne year immersion into farm to school (school to farm) education, June 2, 2023–June 2024

Cost: $2,525


  • 2023 Summer Option I
  • Teacher shadowing/student teaching (one day per week) during the 2023–2024 academic year  
  • Summer 2024 farming assistant, June —August
  • Participation in all farming education offered in 2024 at GSMS
  • Curriculum books


Note: Enrollment in this course includes a CSA membership and allows students to participate in all other land-based learning courses offered by GSMS in 2023.