CAFS students in action

The Civic Agriculture and Food Systems minor embodies a commitment to developing and strengthening an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable agriculture and food systems through building community capacity, using local resources, and serving local markets and citizens. It is designed to promote academic enhancement, personal growth, and civic engagement while strengthening students’ capacity to learn about civic agriculture and food systems through the practice of reflection and experiential learning to solve real-world problems. The CAFS minor provides students with knowledge and skills to identify, examine, apply, and integrate agriculture and food system sustainability philosophies and activities into personal and professional practice.

The curriculum is designed around the following core values:

  • Food security and sovereignty
  • Civic engagement and democratic participation
  • Strong local economies
  • Ecological stewardship
  • Healthy people and communities
  • Collaborative teaching and experiential learning

What makes this minor unique is its commitment to serving students from all degree programs at Virginia Tech. The CAFS minor uses interdisciplinary approaches to curriculum development and teaching and provides students experiential learning opportunities with diverse community partners.

CAFS students hang out at the Hale Y Community Gardens
CAFS minor students take a break at the Hale Y Community Gardens.

Collaborative Civic Agriculture and Food Systems minor faculty

  • Susan Clark, Department of Horticulture  and director of the CAFS minor
  • Kim Niewolny, Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education
  • Hanna Scherer, Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education
  • Cindy Wood, Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences
  • Ozzie Abaye, Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
  • Megan O'Rourke, Department of Horticulture
  • Alex Hessler, Department of Horticulture and Sustainable Food Systems Director
  • Vivica Kraak, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise
  • Jacob Barney, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science
  • Pete Ziegler, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Gwyneth Manser, VT Dining Services Sustainability Manager
  • Jenny Schwanke, Hale-Y Community Garden coordinator

CAFS community partners

Students in the minor receive a richer experience though of the generosity of community partners who provide the students with service-learning experiences.

If you're interested in partnering with the Civic Agriculture and Life Sciences minor, please contact us!

CAFS required courses

12 credits plus 6 elective credits

  • ALS 2204 Introduction to Civic Agriculture (Fall semester)
  • ALS 3404 Ecological Agriculture: Theory and Practice (Fall Semester)
  • ALS 4204 Concepts in Community Food Systems (Spring Semester)
  • ALS 4214 Capstone: Civic Agriculture and Food Systems (Fall Semester)
* civagminor2016.pdf
2016 Civic Agriculture Minor Checksheet
* civagminor2017.pdf
2017 Civic Agriculture Minor Checksheet

CAFS Guidebook


Susan Clark
CAFS Director