Meet OU’s NEW Horticulture Program

Oct 19, 2021 | Blog, News

Oaksterdam University is excited to announce our brand new Horticulture Program. We have completely overhauled our most popular course to reflect the latest and greatest tools and techniques in cannabis cultivation in line with the growing commercial market.

OU’s Horticulture experts, led by Dean of Faculty Natalie Darves, have spent more than two years revamping OU’s curriculum. 

“Ninety percent of the curriculum is new,” Darves says. “We talk about the whole ecosystem of how cannabis is grown. We’re looking more holistically at pressures, plant health, and more.” 

As America’s first cannabis college, Oaksterdam has been teaching students how to cultivate cannabis since its founding in 2007. However, Darves says, scientific research and peer-reviewed information on cannabis had been suppressed due to prohibition. 

With more states legalizing medical and adult-use cannabis, horticulture science around cannabis has exploded. OU’s horticulture course now addresses cannabis cultivation on a commercial scale, giving students the knowledge and credentials needed to lead and succeed in the industry. 

Here’s a look at some of what’s new:

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM): IPM uses sustainable practices to manage pests in a way that minimizes overall economic, health, and environmental risks. “IPM is a philosophical approach to plant pressures that we greatly believe in, and it’s just now being adopted in the cannabis space,” Darves says. 
  • Certificates of Analysis (COA): In today’s market, the value of most products is determined by their cannabinoid and terpene potency. In addition to tracking potency, COAs reflect levels of harmful contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides, molds, and bacteria. Oaksterdam’s new curriculum shows students how to read COAs and track cannabis from seed to sale. 
  • Propagation Techniques: This practice of using tissue culture is not new to farming but absolutely new to cannabis. “It allows you to create a plant from a single cell,” Darves says. “It’s really only been happening in the cannabis space for less than two years.”
  • Farming Infrastructure: Legal markets mean cannabis can be grown outdoors for the first time in the U.S. OU is on the forefront of discussing cannabis in this new framework.
  • Financial Management: Agronomy is not just management of how you grow a certain crop, but how you look at the production lifecycle as a business. “Cannabis is the most expensive license to obtain and continue operating under,” Darves says. “We want to make sure people understand that before operating in the commercial cannabis space.”
  • Physiology: OU’s new program is focused on plant life cycle versus methodology, incorporating physiology, nutrient mobility, and optimal conditions. “It’s an incredibly scientific look at how we can better optimize our plant health,” Darves says.
  • Technology: Today’s technology goes far beyond LED lighting, and includes such advances as sensors embedded in growing media that collect data to regulate nutrients, temperature, and humidity. OU’s new curriculum emphasizes cutting-edge technologies and how they are used.
  • Plant pressures: Commercial emphasis on monocrops is putting more pressure on plants than ever before. We discuss emerging plant health issues and solutions based on the findings of agricultural institutions now studying cannabis. 
  • Compliance: As each state creates regulations around the production and sale of cannabis, our new curriculum focuses not only on how to grow cannabis successfully but how to do it in a compliant manner. “Compliance is imbued throughout every single lesson in some way, shape, or form,” Darves says.

Oaksterdam’s Horticulture Course can be taken online in two ways, Live Semester and Self-Paced. Both feature the brand new curriculum, and result in certification credentials that are respected industry-wide: 

  • Live-Semester Horticulture Course: This 17-week program mirrors the experience of attending classes on campus with other students sharing questions, projects, and knowledge with your instructors and classmates, all from the comfort and safety of your home. The January 2022 semester is enrolling now. 
  • Self-Paced Horticulture Course: This course can be completed anytime that fits your schedule. It includes readings, live links to delve more deeply into a wide range of topics, and a resource library with suggested resource materials and lectures by OU faculty that complement the text. Self-Paced Courses are open for enrollment anytime.