Sustainable Food & Farming Systems

Food and plants that are grown in a way that is healthy for consumers, communities, and the environment as a whole - that's the Department of Horticulture's commitment to Sustainable Food and Farming Systems. In Oregon, there are over 38,000 farms producing crops on over 16 million acres. Horticultural fruits, nuts, berries, vegetables, and specialty crops are produced on over 320,000 acres, and production has been increasing by 12% per year. Farmers' markets and cooperatives create new opportunities for producers and consumers.

Outreach & Extension 

Growers throughout Oregon work cooperatively with our faculty to tackle problems faced in the field. Whether it's by breeding and selecting vegetable cultivars for processors, evaluating organic fertilizers for berry crops, or alerting growers to emerging pests such as spotted wing Drosophila, our faculty are dedicated to improving the economic and environmental sustainability of farming enterprises around Oregon and beyond.


Our vegetable breeding program released 65 new vegetable lines, 16 home garden varieties, and 9 cultivars for the processing industry since its inception in 1971. Farm practices that improve sweet corn root health and variety selections that tolerate smut have been adopted by growers and processors. Analysis of insect flight patterns has enabled us to develop a monitoring and alert system to control pests only when they are present in the region or nearby fields. Growers have adopted tillage, weed management, cover crop, and irrigation strategies based on our research to better manage soils and crop productivity.


In the Department of Horticulture, students are introduced to the basic principles, applications, and concepts of sustainable and organic crop and production systems including having the opportunity to study permaculture design. Teaching also encompasses the perspectives of social scientists, conservationists, growers, and consumers. Our curriculum stresses healthy lifestyles and the environmental impacts of something that touches us all—our food production system.