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Our Unique Programs

Holistic practices require knowledge of the natural processes upon which all life depends. Therefore the information presented in our programs is highly integrated, reflecting the integration of natural systems and processes.

To facilitate this paradigm shift we have developed our own comprehensive instructional materials, guiding students step-by step towards a new understanding of how nature works.

Students will be able to apply this knowledge in diverse situations, ranging from ornamental horticulture to small scale food production and environmental stewardship.

Our programs are designed to

  • Assist current professionals in their transition to sound environmental practices
  • Enable new students to become knowledgeable professionals in their fields of study
  • Provide a cooperative learning environment for the expression of ideas and knowledge
  • Be widely and easily accessible

Custom Training

Municipalities, parks boards, school boards, golf courses, franchises and other large organizations can save precious time and money by training their staff in-house - AND have them all operating at the same level of understanding!

The following short programs lend themselves particularly well to staff training:

We have the experience and expertise to train landscape staff at every level of responsibility - from labourers to senior managers to corporate trainers. Please contact us to discuss your corporate training needs.

Cost: per diem rate plus expenses.

Partnerships

We've spent years to develop and fine-tune our leading edge organic horticulture courses.

If you are looking for organic curriculum - and are concerned about the time and cost of developing your own - contact us! We have partnership agreements with several institutions - benefiting everyone, most of all the students.

Our curriculum is tested in the classroom, and it works. All our courses have fully developed
  • learning outcomes
  • lesson plans
  • power point presentations
  • handouts
  • assignments

Every year our programs are reviewed, carefully considering student and instructor feedback.

Talk to us - one of our strategic goals is to develop partnership agreements with educational institutions and community organizations. We can even train your instructors.

Policies

These policies apply only to courses offered directly by Gaia College. For courses offered by our education partners the policies of the respective education partner apply.

Policies for Online Programs
Policies for Classroom Programs

 

Policies for Online Programs

Admissions
Registration
Enrolment
Student conduct and dismissal
Conflict Resolution
Refunds
Retaking a Course
Gaia College Certificate
Copyright

Admissions

Gaia College programs are open to everyone with a strong interest in organic land care. Our programs are delivered at the college level, and we expect applicants to have a high school education and a working proficiency in reading and writing English.

Students without this level of prior education may require more time to study, complete the assignments, and participate in the on-line discussions. Also, they may not have the skills to produce acceptable assignments in order to graduate with a Gaia College Certificate. While these applicants may still be admitted to the program, they agree, by registering for a program, to hold Gaia College blameless should they fail to satisfactorily complete the program of study.

Gaia College reserves the right to refuse admission.

Students can register directly with Gaia College or with an Education Partner.

Registration

Students registered through an Education Partner must create a Gaia College account.

Students register with Gaia College by creating their student account.

Enrolment

Gaia College may limit the number of students who may enrol in any particular program.

Student conduct and dismissal

Students may be dismissed from the program for the following reasons:

  • Invalidated payment of fees,
  • Providing incorrect registration information,
  • Plagiarism,
  • Publishing, distributing or sharing access to program material without prior written authorization,
  • Using Gaia College resources for purposes other than personal study, and
  • Conducting him- or herself in a disrespectful manner in any correspondence related to our programs.

In case of dismissal, written notice will be sent to the student’s e-mail address.

Conflict Resolution

Should conflict arise between students, or between student(s) and an instructor, the following guidelines apply: first an attempt should be made to resolve the conflict directly with the person involved. If this is not successful, the parties may ask the Gaia College administrator to intervene. The administrator can simply act as an advisor or sounding board to help the parties resolve the conflict, or may directly mediate between the parties. The administrator may request written submissions from all parties, and may provide a written decision. That decision is final.

Refund Policy

This policy applies only to courses offered directly by Gaia College, and applies to both Canadian and International students. For courses taken through our educational partners the refund policy of our respective partner applies.

  • If written (e-mail) notice of withdrawal is received before commencement of the course, tuition fees are refunded in full.
  • If written (e-mail) notice of withdrawal is received within the first 2 weeks of the course, tuition fees less a $200 withdrawal fee are refunded.
  • No refunds are issued if notice of withdrawal is received after the first 2 weeks of the course.

Refunds owing to students shall be paid within 30 days of receipt of written notice of withdrawal or within 30 days of written notice of dismissal.

Retaking a Course

Any student registered directly with Gaia College may repeat any online course taken since January 2019. There is a $200 administration fee. Courses must be retaken within 1 year of the original registration. This policy does not apply to Gaia College Educational Partner courses. Gaia College reserves the right to change this policy at any time.

Gaia College Certificate

After successful completion of your online course, your Certificate of Completion will be mailed to you within a month. While your first Certificate of Completion per course is included in your enrolment fee, we charge $25 per duplicate certificate.

Copyright

By posting assignments and other material to the Gaia College web site students grant limited copyright to Gaia College for the purpose of making archival copies, and publishing their work for informational and promotional purposes.

Policies for Classroom Programs

Admissions
Account Creation
Enrolment
Student conduct and dismissal
Conflict resolution
Refunds
Copyright

Admissions

Gaia College programs are open to everyone with a strong interest in organic land care. Our programs are delivered at the college level, and we expect applicants to have a high school education and a working proficiency in reading and writing English.

While applicants without this level of prior education will still be admitted to the program, they agree, by registering for a program, to hold Gaia College blameless should they fail to satisfactorily complete the program of study.

Gaia College reserves the right to refuse admission.

Students register with an Education Partner.

Account Creation

Students must register on-line at the Gaia College web site.

Enrolment

Gaia College may limit the number of students who may enroll in any particular program.

Student conduct and dismissal

Students may be dismissed from the program for the following reasons:

  • Invalidated payment of fees,
  • Providing incorrect registration information,
  • Plagiarism,
  • Publishing, distributing or sharing access to program material without prior written authorization,
  • Using Gaia College resources for purposes other than personal study, and
  • Conducting him- or herself in a disrespectful manner in any correspondence related to our programs.

In case of dismissal, written notice will be sent to the student’s e-mail address.

Conflict resolution

Should conflict arise between students, or between student(s) and an instructor, the following guidelines apply: first an attempt should be made to resolve the conflict directly with the person involved. If this is not successful, the parties may ask the Gaia College administrator to intervene. The administrator can simply act as an advisor or sounding board to help the parties resolve the conflict, or may directly mediate between the parties. The administrator may request written submissions from all parties, and may provide a written decision. That decision is final.

Refund Policy

This policy applies only to courses offered directly by Gaia College, and applies to both Canadian and International students. For courses taken through our educational partners the refund policy of our respective partner applies.

Non-Refundable Fees

Any portion of the program fee allocated for:

  • Textbooks and other instructional materials
  • Access to on-line resources
  • Non-refundable registration fees (if specified as non-refundable)
  • Meals and refreshments

Refundable Fees

  • Program fees as follows:

If written (e-mail) notice of withdrawal is received at least 1 week before commencement of the program, Gaia College shall retain 10% of the tuition paid.

If written (e-mail) notice of withdrawal is received less than 1 week before commencement of the program, Gaia College shall retain 25% of the tuition paid.

No part of the tuition will be refunded after commencement of the program.

Refunds owing to students shall be paid within 30 days of receipt of written notice of withdrawal or within 30 days of written notice of dismissal.

Copyright

By posting assignments and other material to the Gaia College web site students grant limited copyright to Gaia College for the purpose of making archival copies, and publishing their work for informational and promotional purposes.

Revised May 28, 2019

Application and Payment

Once you have completed all requirements for the Diploma in Organic Land Care you may apply for the Diploma here:

Apply Now

Please note: you must mail or email copies of your completed certificates with your application.

Educational Resources

Are you

  • A landscape professional wishing to upgrade your knowledge or prepare for SOUL certification?
  • An instructor looking for a text book or just some inspiration?
  • A home gardener looking for understanding beyond simple "how to" instructions?
  • An environmentalist needing up-to-date science?

You will find our books an exciting and novel learning experience. Teaching a new concept in horticulture requires new instructional methods and materials. As we developed our first on-line certificate program we found that the research to support holistic horticulture certainly exists, but in a piecemeal fashion.

In order to portray the integration of natural systems we needed to integrate all these bits and pieces. To guide our students towards a different understanding of how nature works we needed to present the information from a different perspective. So we began to write. Enjoy the results!

 

The Essence of Organic Gardening

The Essence of Organic Gardening

Buy from The Organic Gardener's Pantry

Buy on Amazon

Purchase as e-book

Are you ready to gain a deeper understanding of your garden?

It seems natural to focus on the biggest inhabitants of the garden and to think that gardening is all about plants. But it is so much more. The lives of plants are interwoven with the lives and activities of all the organisms in their environment.

With this book I hope to show you a glimpse of the many relationships and natural processes within nature, the interconnectedness of life. Gardening is much easier and much more interesting when we work to support the health of the whole garden, and that's what organic gardening is all about.

Here is a book review by Synergy Magazine

 

Working With Nature - Shifting Paradigms

Working With Nature - Shifting Paradigms

Buy from The Organic Gardener's Pantry

Buy on Amazon

Purchase as e-book

Working With Nature - Shifting Paradigms presents a new framework for making land management decisions. It describes ecologically sound soil and water management practices and introduces the concept of landscape health management. These are essential concepts in holistic land management.

This book is designed to be a resource for self study, and community and classroom education. It is addressed at all gardeners with an interest in horticultural science: landscape professionals, farmers, horticulture instructors, students and avid home gardeners. Even though this is a scientific text, it is written in plain language. A glossary and extensive references are provided at the end of the book.

Here is a book review from the Canadian Organic Growers

Privacy Policy

Your privacy is very important to us. When you visit our website, we do not collect personally identifiable information from you unless you register. If you register, we have your information in a secure database and it is kept confidential. We do not sell, rent, share, or otherwise disclose mailing lists or other personally identifiable information with third parties.

If you give us your information, we may occasionally contact you about courses, or send you information in which you've indicated an interest. You will always be given the opportunity to decline receiving further communications from us.

We use password protocols and encryption software to protect personal and other information we receive when a payment is made online. Our software is routinely updated to maximize protection of such information. We do not store any credit card or banking information.

If you have any questions about our privacy policy, feel free to contact us.

Accessing Your Online Classroom

These instructions have opened in a new window so that you can go back and forth between here and the other page.

We support Firefox or Chrome web browsers. If you are having issues with things not showing up properly in another browser, try downloading and installing Chrome.

Some of our courses are offered in partnership with other institutions, and you must PAY for these courses through them, not us. If payment is required at another institution, it is indicated at the top of each course along with the location and schedule information.

After the courses starts, you will still need to go through a simple activation process with us in order to access your online classroom. This is described below. 90% of registration problems are because students don't completely go through this process.

There are two steps to the process: 

1) Choose the option that applies to you, follow the instructions and proceed to Step 2). 

a) If you are a NEW Gaia College Student, you will have to create a Gaia College account. You can create your account by visiting www.gaiacollege.ca/account-information.html or by following the instructions attached to this e-mail.

b) If you have taken a Gaia College course in the past, either directly through Gaia College or through an Educational Partner, please login by entering your username and password. Please follow the instructions attached to this e-mail.

2) Once you have logged into or created a new account , enroll in your course. Instructions on how to enroll can be found online at www.gaiacollege.ca/accessing-your-online-classroom.html or by following the instructions below. This step will associate your Gaia College account information with your online course. 

INSTRUCTIONS: 

Step 1 a) If you are a NEW Gaia College student: 

If you have never taken a Gaia College course, please create your username and password by visiting www.gaiacollege.ca/account-information.html 

New Students Start Here

Fill in your information and click on the “Save” button. Clicking the “Save” button automatically logs you in. Please record and save your username and password. Proceed to Step 2). 

Step 1b) If you have taken a Gaia College course in the past: 

…. either directly through Gaia College or through an Educational Partner, please login by entering your username and password. Please proceed to Step 2) 

Log In

 

Note: If you need to recover your username or have forgotten your password, click on the appropriate question as shown in the screenshot above.

Step 2) Once you have logged into, or created a new account: 

Instructions on the enrolment process are outlined in the video and in the text below.

 

STARTING THE ENROLMENT PROCESS – Enter Enrolment URL

You have been given (or emailed to you) an exact document like these instructions with an URL to enroll in the online component of your course. It looks similar to this:

http://www.gaiacollege.ca/ …….……html


Enter this URL in your browser address/search field and hit enter (or click on it if it is in an email).

 

 

Click on the “Gaia College Enrolment” button.

 

 

Please check your personal information, then under "Select a Payment Method", click on the Online Course Access Activation Only button - red circled here:

       online activation button

Next, click the “Terms of Service” checkbox near the bottom of the page.  You will not be able to proceed unless you accept the terms of service.

 

Click the “Confirm” button.

New page: scroll down and click the “Confirm Enrolment “ button. 

Confirm Enrolment

You are now enrolled in your online classroom. You will receive an enrolment confirmation email.

Important: Please click the “Logout” button to complete the enrolment process. 

Log Out 

 

ACCESSING YOUR ONLINE CLASSROOM 

 

Click on the “Login/out” link at the top right of the page and login by entering your username and password. Please note: If you are already logged in then you must logout, then login again.





Click on the “Online Campus” button to go to the online campus.





Once you are in the Online Campus, find your course in the “My Courses” block in the top left of the page.

 



You are now in your online classroom.

GET STARTED!

Now you have access to all the course materials. The “Before You Start” section provides important information on how to navigate the course site and make the most of your online experience.

We encourage you to review all the elements on the course website, get comfortable with the online environment, sign-up for forums, and utilize the extensive resources available to you. Note that there is a weekly course calendar that will outline all the required activities for each week - you may wish to keep this handy by printing it.

Be sure to log-out at the end of each session.

Keep these instructions near your computer or with your course materials until you’re comfortable with the log in/out process.

 

NEED HELP?

Technical problems with the website, access, etc., email us at: assistance@gaiacollege.ca.  

We hope you enjoy your course! Michael Hermary, at: assistance@gaiacollege.ca 

Scheduled Courses

These courses are offered on a trimester basis.

Gaia College Subscription

Thank you for confirming your subscription to our Course Interest mailings.

You can download your complementary copy of The Essence of Organic Gardening.

The Essence of Organic Gardening

Ordering your SketchUp Software

Students who register directly with Gaia College:

Upon registration you will be sent a separate Enrolment Confirmation that you will need as academic proof to purchase the student version of your SketchUp Pro software license. If you don't see it in your inbox please look in your junk file.

All other students:

You will require proof of payment/ registration from the college where you registered for this course.

All Students:

Here are the instructions for ordering your software:

  1. Click on this URL and purchase your software http://www.creationengine.com/html/p.lasso?p=19568&catcode=0l

  1. The order process requires you to submit academic proof - confirming that you are indeed a student at a recognized educational facility.  When you submit your academic proof you need to enter your software order number into the subject line. The order number will be provided by them when you purchase the software.

  1. You have 3 options to submit your Registration / Enrolment Confirmation:

    - The simplest is probably to email/ forward it to them at this email address: orders@creationengine.com .
    - Turn it into a document that you can upload with your order
    - Fax it to them - the fax number and instructions will be provided at some point in the ordering process.

If you run into any difficulties please email our technical support at

assistance@gaiacollege.ca

 

 

Creating an Account

Creating a Gaia College Account

The instructions for creating a Gaia College account are outlined in both the video and the text below. 

 

 

Before you can enrol in your online course, you must either log into or create anonline Gaia College account. If you have taken a Gaia College course in the past, you can simply login and proceed with the enrolment process, outlined below. If you have never taken a Gaia College course, please create your username and password by visiting www.gaiacollege.ca/account-information.html

NewStudentsReg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fill in your information and click on the "Save" button. Clicking the "Save" button automatically logs you in. Please record and save your username and password.

Next, proceed with the enrolment process outlined here www.gaiacollege.ca/accessing-your-online-classroom.html

These instructions have opened in a new window to allow you to go back and forth between here and the other pages.

Professional Development Overview

These courses are for professionals pursuing continuing education and specialization in their area of practice. Most of these courses are eligible for Continuing Education Credits for a number of different professional associations.

Organic Horticulture Specialist Online

This course will give you the knowledge you need to be a successfully organic gardener. You will receive a thorough introduction to the science and practice of organic horticulture, facilitating a profound shift in ecological awareness.

Going way beyond the idea of pesticide and fertilizer product substitution, you will understand the concepts of landscape health management as opposed to pest management, building a holistic decision making framework for creating and maintaining vibrantly healthy gardens and landscapes, including turf.

Attendance at this program can earn you Continuing Education Credits (CECs) with:
CLNA, NALP, ISA: Certified Arborist, ISA: Board Certified Arborist, ISA: Municipal Specialist, BCSLA, Canadian Society for Organic Urban Land Care, IPM Canada, MGOI, NOFA

Organic Horticulture Specialist Online

Living Green Infrastructure Online

This course is designed to provide the knowledge and tools to assist professionals and practitioners in attaining a proficient level of competence in living green infrastructure, and for implementing these technologies and best management practices throughout the planning, constructing and maintenance phase of land development.

Attendance at this program can earn you Continuing Education Credits (CECs) with:
CLNA, NALP, ISA: Certified Arborist, ISA: Board Certified Arborist, ISA: Municipal Specialist, BCSLA, MGOI, NOFA

Living Green Infrastructure Online

Rainwater Harvesting & Management Online

Using the concepts of rainwater management, and implementing key components of rainwater harvesting, professionals and trades practitioners will be able to design, create and manage quality systems in a sustainable and environmentally ethical manner.

Attendance at this program can earn you Continuing Education Credits (CECs) with:
CLNA, NALP, BCSLA, MGOI, IPM, NOFA, ARCSA

Rainwater Harvesting & Management Online

The Art of Online Facilitation

The Art of Online Facilitation is a course intended for training educators as online facilitators of fully online and blended delivery courses.

Course design is critical to good online course facilitation and this course is intended to guide the educator in using an already developed online course as the basis for example.

The Art of Online Facilitation

Online Courses Overview

Click here to find out which online courses are best suited to landscape professionals, home/community gardeners and small food growers.

Organic Master Gardener

The organic master gardener course is our core gardening class. It's intense, challenging and inspiring, and it's profoundly changing lives all around North America.

Not only do you become a master gardener, but you also join a community of like-minded people who want to make the world a better place. You'll make new friends. You'll see the world differently. We hope you'll discover a new sense of purpose.

Organic Master Gardener

Organic Horticulture Specialist

Whether you are already a landscape professional, just beginning your education, or simply learning for personal enjoyment, this course will give you the knowledge you need to become a better gardener.

You will receive a thorough introduction to the science and practice of organic horticulture, facilitating a profound shift in ecological awareness.

Organic Horticulture Specialist

Landscape Design Basics with Sketchup Pro

In this unique course geared towards landscape applications we introduce a whole new integrated 3-dimensional design and modeling process.

Whether your preferred medium is pen and paper or a conventional 2-dimensional CAD program, the ability to work in 3 dimensions and view your work from all angles will undoubtedly enrich your creative design process.

Sketchup Pro for Landscape Design

Ecological Landscape Design

This very comprehensive course begins with an overview of historical garden design perspectives, including an examination of the role of art, statuary, wildlife, water, and native ecosystems.

The principles of landscape design and how the various elements are used in softscaping and hardscaping will be examined in detail on how to achieve particular esthetics and function. Design terminology and drafting skills will be applied when following the steps of the design process.

Ecological Landscape Design

Growing Food 1 - Fundamentals

If you are concerned about where your food comes from, what’s in it (or on it), or simply getting the best nutrition possible, growing an abundance of healthy, nutritious and delicious fruits and vegetables is the way to go.

In this comprehensive course you will learn essential applied permaculture and organic gardening techniques

Growing Food 1 - Fundamentals

Ecological Plant Knowledge 1 - Natives

This course provides an overview of plant and ecosystem relationships, through a brief review of ecosystem ecology, botany and plant physiology as it relates to choosing and planting a variety of native plants.

The plant identification component emphasizes native landscape plants including annuals, perennials, shrubs, deciduous and evergreen trees which are commonly used in the ornamental landscape for the temperate and colder northern hemisphere.

Ecological Plant Knowledge 1 - Natives

Rainwater Harvesting & Management Online

Using the concepts of rainwater management, and implementing key components of rainwater harvesting, professionals and trades practitioners will be able to design, create and manage quality systems in a sustainable and environmentally ethical manner.

Attendance at this program earns you the following Continuing Education Credits (CECs):
CLNA, NALP, BCSLA, MGOI, IPM, NOFA, ARCSA

Rainwater Harvesting & Management Online

Business Skills for Land Care Professionals

Drawing on 40 years of small business experience, this course goes well beyond information found in textbooks and on the web, providing a practical interpretation of common business problems, and guidance to solutions.

While it is addressed at small business owners in the ornamental land care and farming sectors, this course is equally applicable to all other types of small business. Participants will develop their own marketing and business plans.

Business Skills for Land Care Professionals

Ecological Plant Knowledge 2 - Ornamentals

Plants are a product of their native environment, having adapted to specific soil, water and climate conditions. These are complex relationships, and to create thriving landscapes we need to have a good understanding of the growing conditions in the plants' native range.

The plant identification component of this course emphasizes ornamental landscape plants including annuals, perennials, shrubs, deciduous and evergreen trees, which are commonly used in the ornamental landscape of the temperate and cooler northern hemisphere.

Ecological Plant Knowledge 2 - Ornamentals

Living Green Infrastructure Online

This course is designed to provide the knowledge and tools to assist professionals and practitioners in attaining a proficient level of competence in living green infrastructure, and for implementing these technologies and best management practices throughout the planning, constructing and maintenance phase of land development.

Attendance at this program earns you the following Continuing Education Credits (CECs):
CLNA, NALP, ISA: Certified Arborist, ISA: Board Certified Arborist, ISA: Municipal Specialist, BCSLA, MGOI, NOFA

Living Green Infrastructure Online

The Art of Online Facilitation

The Art of Online Facilitation is a course intended for training educators as online facilitators of fully online and blended delivery courses.

Course design is critical to good online course facilitation and this course is intended to guide the educator in using an already developed online course as the basis for example.

The Art of Online Facilitation

Classroom Courses Overview

These courses are for people who want to learn with others, in the classroom.

Organic Master Gardener

The organic master gardener course is our core gardening class. It's intense, challenging and inspiring, and it's profoundly changing lives all around North America.

Not only do you become a master gardener, but you also join a community of like-minded people who want to make the world a better place. You'll make new friends. You'll see the world differently. We hope you'll discover a new sense of purpose.

Organic Master Gardener

Organic Horticulture Specialist

Be prepared for a major shift in paradigms! This is a gardening course, and so much more. Students have called it "life changing".

That's because once we truly understand the connection between soil health, plant health, human health and environmental health we look at the world with different eyes.

Organic Horticulture Specialist

Growing Food

If you are concerned about where your food comes from, what’s in it (or on it), or simply getting the best nutrition possible for your family – this course is for you!

Grow an abundance of healthy, nutritious and delicious food right away this year – save hundreds of dollars on your food budget – and take a giant step towards increasing your family’s food security.

Growing Food

Ecological Plant Knowledge for Organic Gardeners

Over the course of several months you will learn to identify approximately 300 plants. For each plant you will explore its ecosystem of origin, and under which conditions it thrives best, or just marginally survives.

You will learn how it adapts to our environment, and how you can provide it with optimal care. Finally you will learn about its non-ornamental uses, such as food, medicine, fiber, etc.

Ecological Plant Knowledge for Organic Gardeners

Ecological Landscape Design

Landscape health starts with intelligent design. In this course you will explore the intricate relationships within ecosystems, and how you can work with them to create vibrantly beautiful and healthy gardens.

Be prepared for an eye-opening experience that will challenge some commonly held beliefs, and will leave you empowered with a new understanding of how a garden works.

Ecological Landscape Design 

How to Apply for your Continuing Education Credits

Each organization that offers Continuing Education Credits (also known as CECs, or CEUs for “Continuing Education Units”) for Gaia College courses has a unique application process.

This page will help you figure out what you need to do to apply for your credits, once you’ve completed the course requirements and received credit with Gaia College for whatever course you’re enrolled in. General questions can be addressed to CEC.admin@gaiacollege.ca

Links to Continuing Education Credit Summaries for All Gaia College Courses

Business Skills for Land Care Professionals - Online

Ecological Landscape Design - Classroom

Ecological Landscape Design - Online

Ecological Plant Knowledge for Organic Gardeners - Classroom

Ecological Plant Knowledge 1 - Natives - Online

Ecological Plant Knowledge 2 - Ornamentals - Online

Growing Food - Classroom

Growing Food 1 - Fundamentals - Online

Living Green Infrastructure - Online

Organic Horticulture Specialist - Classroom

Organic Horticulture Specialist - Online

Organic Master Gardener - Classroom

Organic Master Gardener - Online

Rainwater Harvesting & Management - Online

Sketchup Pro for Landscape Design - Online

How to apply for your credits (by organization)

Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA)

CNLA members must renew their certification every 2 years, by earning 24 continuing education units (CEUs), which are tracked by the CNLA.

All Gaia College courses are considered relevant for all CNLA Landscape Industry Certified designations (including Retail Horticulturalist and Landscape Industry Certified Technician). Any single Gaia College course offered as of spring 2016 meets the complete CEU requirements for biennial recertification for these CNLA-certified individuals.

The CNLA offers detailed instructions on how to apply for recertification at the following webpage: Information for Certified Individuals. There is a recertification fee of $75 + HST ($84.75), payable with recertification application every 2 years.

Only the Recertification form and the fee must be submitted; however, CNLA members are required to keep documentation of course attendance (i.e., the course completion certificate) on file for 2 years in case of audit.

National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP - USA)

NALP and the CNLA have harmonized their Landscape Industry Certified certification requirements. Like the CNLA, NALP requires Landscape Industry Certified Professionals to acquire 24 CEUs every two years for recertification.

As with the CNLA, any single Gaia College course can be considered as qualifying for the maximum 24 CEUs required for a Landscape Industry Certified Technician or a Retail Horticulturalist to renew their biyearly certification.

Details on how to apply for recertification can be found on the following webpage: NALP Recertification. NALP also offers a Recertification FAQ Page. There is a recertification fee of $100 US.

A completed Continuing Education Units (CEU) Submission Form is mailed or faxed to the NALP office.

Unless otherwise noted, NALP only requires that the completed CEU Submission Form be submitted for recertification, along with the $100 Recertification fee. However, certified individuals must keep their CEU documentation (including completion certificates for any Gaia College courses) on file for 2 years - because a percentage of forms will be audited each year. Documentation requirements for the various CEU options are available on the NALP Recertification Requirements information sheet.

BC Society of Landscape Architects (BCSLA)

BCSLA Registered Landscape Architects, Landscape Architects, and Interns are required to report a minimum of 30 CE Credits over a three-year reporting period. New Members will be required to submit credits on a prorated basis. Inactive Landscape Architects are required to report a minimum 15 CE Credits over a three-year reporting period.

There is no pre-approval process for CEUs with the BCSLA. Members are individually responsible for monitoring and reporting their Continuing Education Activities, and for determining what constitutes landscape architecture and landscape architecture-related activities. Gaia College courses may qualify for CEUs, but it is up to individual members to ascertain this by consulting the BCSLA’s posted CE Credit guidelines.

BCSLA Continuing Education General Information

BCSLA Continuing Education Policy

BCSLA Continuing Education Credit Guidelines & Input

BCSLA Member Login to apply for CE Credits

International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)

Each of the various ISA qualifications, including Certified Arborist, Municipal Specialist, Tree Worker/Aerial Lift, Board Certified Management Arborist (BCMA)-Practice, BCMA-Science, and BCMA-Management, has been awarded a specific number of pre-approved Continuing Education Units from the ISA for each of a number of Gaia College course. Please consult the Gaia College course links above to find out how many CEUs are applicable for each specialty, for each relevant course. Not all Gaia College courses qualify for ISA CEUs, for every ISA qualification, but many do. Gaia College students who are ISA members and complete courses that are approved for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from the ISA will receive completion codes from their course instructors, upon completion of the relevant courses. You can submit these codes to the ISA for credit, by going to the ISA CEU Center, then clicking on the on “CEU Post Approval Request Portal” box. This will take you to a log-in page, where you will be able to type the course title and the CEU code into the information box to submit it for credit.

Logging in through this portal will enable you to see when each CEU has been approved and added to your account, so you can keep track of your continuing education status. If anyone has difficulty logging in or submitting CEU credits, please contact Emily Renshaw at erenshaw@isa-arbor.com.

Here are the relevant links regarding the ISA’s Continuing Education Policy and application process:

ISA CEU Center - contains a tab with information on How to Submit Pre-approved CEUs

Maintaining Your ISA Credentials

ISA Login to view your certification status

Master Gardeners of Ontario Incorporated (MGOI)

All Gaia College courses are considered relevant for MGOI Continuing Education

Credit requirements. Any single Gaia College course qualifies for 24 CEUs, which

exceeds the annual requirement of 6 CEUs.

To apply for your credits, get a volunteer hours sheet from your MGOI Coordinator, state on the sheet where you earned the CEUs, and return it to the Coordinator, who will submit it to the Provincial Administrator to be included in the Annual Report.

Master Gardeners of Ontario, Inc.

Master Gardeners of Ontario - Education

Integrated Pest Management Canada (IPM Canada)

Several Gaia College courses are eligible for some amount of credit toward IPM Canada Continuing Education requirements for Certified Agents. Please see the “Credits” tab for each individual course (listed above), to ascertain how many IPM Canada CECs it qualifies for.

IPM Canada Certified Agents require a minimum of 6 CECs per year to maintain certification. Excess credits may be carried forward to subsequent years.

Gaia College will submit an Official Attendance Register to IPM Canada, listing all students who have successfully completed relevant courses and have asked to be included. There are 2 steps students must complete in order to receive credit from IPM Canada for Gaia College courses:

  1. To be included on the Official Attendance Register submitted by Gaia College to IPM Canada, students must submit a request to CEC.admin@gaiacollege.ca. The request must include the student’s name, their IPM Certification #, employer, and the name and semester of the course in which they are registered.
  2. Students must also submit the IPM Canada Certified Agent Continuing Education Reporting Form [link provided in your online course] to IPM Canada.

IPM Canada Accreditation

Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA)

NOFA Accredited Professionals require 4 CEUs (1 CEU per pre-approved credit hour) each year in order to maintain certification. The Supporter reaccreditation fee is $75 US; the Business reaccreditation fee is $150 US. NOFA Professionals must complete and submit the NOFA Reaccreditation Form, along with the fee, by January 1st of the year for which you are re-accrediting. All approved Gaia College courses count for the annual maximum of 4 CEUs. Please see the “Credits” tab for each individual Gaia College course (listed above), to see whether it qualifies for NOFA CEU pre-approval.

NOFA Reaccreditation

NOFA Reaccreditation Form

A Different Way To Garden

The Essence Book

Are you ready to gain a deeper understanding of your garden?

It seems natural to focus on the biggest inhabitants of the garden and to think that gardening is all about plants.

But it is so much more.

Our free ebook will show you:

  • How to create communities within your garden.
  • How to properly feed the soil dwelling organisms.
  • How to increase microbial diversity.
  • How to provide sufficient water for ecosystem health.
  • How to build a healthy, abundant organic garden.

Gardening is much easier and much more interesting when we work to support the health of the whole garden, and that's what organic gardening is all about.

Enter your email below to get your free ebook (we will never send spam).

 







Book Reviews

"This is written in the early years of the organic farming and gardening resurgence from the blatant uses of pesticides and monoculture farming and large corporate nursery garden supplies of seeds and bedding plants. It is easy to read and gives the ideas and some practical beginnings very succinctly. Much useful information in a thin book!"
J.E. Smith

"The Essence of Organic Gardening is a great introduction to organic methods of gardening, but is also just a fantastic overview of ecosystem management for those who are curious about how nature works, and what our place in it should be. Heide is very clear that nature is a stronger force than we are, and that we need to re-evaluate our role to work co-operatively with our ecosystems."
Heather Nicholds

"In many ways, we have acted like curious toddlers, wandering into our environment and making changes without having any true understanding of the long term and widespread effects of our efforts. Heide's books are part of a slowly growing movement to work with the earth instead of simply bending it to our will. It is long overdue, and I believe we will all be the better for it."
Laurie J. Neverman

What is Organic Land Care and why do it?

Girl in grass WEB MED

Organic land care (OLC) is how we design, install and maintain landscapes to promote and preserve the health of the environment. OLC includes alternatives to the pesticides and fertilizers that endanger our health. The goal is to use just what Nature gave us – no chemicals! OLC creates green spaces that thrive year after year; resilient to pests, weeds, and drought. It’s about Healthy SOILS, Healthy PLANTS, Healthy ECOSYSTEMS.

 You can help the environment by applying OLC practices on your land. There is an urgent need: ecosystems everywhere are struggling and all positive action big or small helps. Share your own results with your community; inspiring more people to follow.

Landscape professionals using OLC skills to create the naturally sustainable green spaces of the future gain a competitive edge.

Developers and municipalities save money by eliminating expensive chemicals in applying OLC practices; reaping benefits beyond the sustainability of their green spaces.

Gaia College is a world leader in teaching organic land care (Gaia means “Goddess of the Earth” in Greek lore), with a proven curriculum since 2003.

Find current news articles and blogs about OLC.

Find the online course best for you

Online courses run 14 weeks; starting in January, May, and September. Check out our FAQ for more information. Is online learning is for you? Take this short quiz and find out!

Advanced Diploma - Discontinued

Notice: The Advanced Diploma in Urban Permaculture - Discontinued

     As a leader in organic land care, Gaia College is often ahead of the world in programs and education. Our Advanced Diploma in Urban Permaculture mirrors our enthusiasm in helping people to do things differently; unfortunately, the breadth and depth of this particular program is more than most people are available to complete. We hoped that we would be helping people to gain an edge and skills to live and work sustainably in the changing field of land care. We’ve found that people are not ready for all our core course work at this time, and we find ourselves unable to offer this option anymore. Most of the Advanced Diploma courses are still available, and offered online for individual certificates. 

     For those of you willing to go the extra mile, we still offer our Gaia College Diploma in Organic Land Care. The Gaia College Diploma in Organic Land Care fulfills the advanced education requirements for becoming a SOUL Certified Organic Land Care Professional. All courses are offered on a part-time access basis to allow students to continue to work while studying over a 14-week period.

     If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at info@gaiacollege.ca, and we will endeavour to address those.

Regards, 

 

The Gaia Team

Blog

The foundation of all life on earth starts in a garden

clover

It seems natural to focus on the biggest inhabitants of the garden and to think that gardening is all about plants.

But it is so much more.

The garden is a highly ordered world that extends from the top of the tallest tree deep into the earth.

It is a community of countless living organisms, all working hard to build their homes, feed themselves and raise their offspring.

While we focus on the plants - and perhaps the birds and butterflies - most of the species inhabiting the garden live in the soil and are so small that they can only be seen with the most powerful microscope.

Yet their relationships are every bit as complex as ours.

Every species has a unique set of tasks and every individual makes a contribution towards the benefit of the whole. When we look closely, we can see an intricate web of relationships, alliances and even cooperatives that rival our human institutions in sophistication.

Let’s begin by taking a giant step back to the time when primitive organisms came together to form the relationships that would become the foundation of life on earth. Life as we know it would not exist without the cooperation of two very unlikely partners - plants and bacteria.

All of the carbohydrates in our food and in every cell of every living being, and all the carbon in the soil used to be part of the air - carbon dioxide (CO2).

It is the unique task of plants, algae and certain kinds of bacteria to extract the carbon from the carbon dioxide and incorporate it into solid compounds. This is what we call photosynthesis.

But that’s only half of it. Photosynthesis is only possible through the activity of proteins, enzymes and similar substances in plant cells. One of the major building blocks of these molecules is nitrogen.

Nitrogen also occurs naturally as a part of air and even though plants are able to capture carbon dioxide gas they cannot capture nitrogen gas. This is the job of the nitrogen fixing bacteria, who are able to convert nitrogen gas into solid form.

Ultimately, all the protein in our food and in the bodies of all living organisms has its origin in the work of these tiny creatures. But just like us, they totally depend on plants and recycled organic matter for their carbohydrates.

These bacteria live in the soil, on plant surfaces, and some even live right inside plant roots and leaves where they trade their nitrogen directly with the plant in exchange for sugars. Neither can exist without the other, and none of us would be here without their cooperation.

The creation of life on earth is truly a group effort.

In Mother Nature’s garden abundance continually increases, as ever more carbohydrates and proteins are created.

The greatest biodiversity on land is found in the top few inches of the soil, where these basic building blocks of life are constantly recycled as one organism’s waste becomes another’s food.

The end product, the most highly refined waste, is humus, which in these times of climate change we cherish for its ability to moderate the CO2 content of the atmosphere. But the carbon doesn’t get into the soil without the work of plants and the whole complex soil based web of life.

All of this comes to a halt when we - with our obsession with tidiness - deprive the soil dwelling organisms of their primary carbohydrate source: the old and discarded plant parts.


For current Gaia College students, these concepts are some of the most important to keep top of mind as you move through your course.

For future Gaia College students, we encourage you to start with the Organic Master Gardener course:

Organic Master Gardener Online

This is how plants are able to survive

thistle and bee

We often think of Nature in adversarial terms - as a struggle for survival of the fittest - but the garden teaches us that “fitness” includes the ability to cooperate with others.

For instance, as primary carbohydrate producers it is the ecological destiny of plants to be eaten - and yet they flourish!

That is because they have entered into relationships with many other organisms to obtain help with food procurement, defence and even procreation.

In fact plants actively trade up to 80% of all the carbohydrates they produce through photosynthesis for the services of other organisms in their environment.

Everybody knows about pollinating insects such as bees and beetles, and even birds and bats, but how many of us realize that thousands of plant species have effectively contracted these animals to facilitate their entire sexual propagation!

For these services plants trade primarily nectar and pollen, substances custom manufactured to meet the specific needs of their pollinators.

The nutrient requirements of some pollinators, such as ladybugs and lacewings, are more complex. Their young ones are meat eaters, feeding exclusively on small, soft-bodied insects such as aphids.

And so the plants are content to host a few aphid colonies on their buds or leaves to create breeding grounds for their pollinators - just enough to meet the needs of the ladybugs, not enough to hurt the plants.

In the human economy we call this “outsourcing”, but for the plants and their pollinators these arrangements have life or death consequences because there are no alternatives, no “opt-out” clauses.

Without pollinators many plant species will simply die out, and without a diverse plant population providing year-round food the pollinators cannot survive.

The greater the diversity, the greater the safety margin.

Other relationships are more difficult to see because they take place below ground. Half the plant lives in the soil, which not only anchors the plant, but is also its source of nutrients and water.

Like us, plants can’t live on carbohydrates alone, but require a balanced diet - and that can be challenging, being stuck in one place!


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Ecological Plant Knowledge 1 - Natives Online

Why mycorrhizal fungi are vital for garden health

mycorrhizal-fungiFor example, many nutrients - especially phosphorus and some micronutrients - exist in rock formations that are difficult for plants to dissolve, and so plants have engaged the services of special types of fungi.

These fungi, called mycorrhizal fungi, anchor themselves in plant roots and from there extend their long strands of mycelium into the surrounding soil. Their powerful digestive enzymes break down these rocks to harvest the nutrients, which they then trade with the plants in exchange for carbohydrates.

Mycorrhizal fungi also assist the plant with water uptake. The fungal network increases the root area - the water absorption area - of the plant many times, and so effectively renders the plant more “drought tolerant”.

In addition, the dense fungal strands act as the root’s first line of defense in a world teeming with microbes.

Some species of mycorrhizal fungi literally wrap themselves around the roots, completely protecting them from potential predators.

A single plant associates with many different species of these fungi, and each fungus associates with many different species of plants, so all plants in the garden are actually physically connected via the fungal network.

And here we find that mycorrhizal fungi also work as messengers between plants, even transferring nutrients from one plant to another. So a healthy garden becomes like a single organism, acting in unison, a life form in its own right.

The relationships between plants and nitrogen fixing bacteria, and plants and mycorrhizal fungi, are only two examples of the many trade agreements plants have with other organisms in the soil.

The area in the immediate vicinity of plant roots is alive with thousands of species, which feed on the carbon compounds excreted by plants and in turn produce substances that the plants require, such as vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and growth hormones.

Plants may be able to photosynthesize, but they also absorb a significant amount of “processed” organic carbon from the soil.

Sometimes it’s cheaper to bring in pre-assembled parts than to manufacture everything from scratch - a concept we are well familiar with in our human economy.

The countless organisms in Nature - and in our garden - thrive because they make a valuable contribution to the whole.

We have only just begun to understand the complexity of this interconnected web of life. It would serve us well to recognize the inherent intelligence in Nature, and to work with it rather than trying to subject it to our limited imagination.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online

Why an aerator is the wrong tool (and what to do instead)

microbe-homesSoil dwelling organisms use and rearrange the raw materials in their environment to construct their homes - and they are not all that different from ours.

With their excretions microbes glue the sand, silt and clay particles of the soil together to create chambers: large chambers for air, smaller chambers to store water, and space enough for their populations to flourish.

Gardeners spend millions of dollars each year to mechanically aerate their lawns because the soil has become so compact that grass roots don’t have enough air. But the aerator is the wrong tool - what the lawn really needs is microbial diversity.

As the microbes rearrange the soil particles to build themselves homes, they also create the ideal mix of soil pores to provide sufficient air for themselves and for plant roots.

In a healthy lawn, repeated aerating is actually counterproductive, as it constantly destroys what the microbes have worked so hard to create.

Of all the ecosystems, healthy, biodiverse grasslands are the most effective in building topsoil and accumulating carbon in the soil. This is something to consider, as we are concerned about the climatic effect of carbon emissions.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online

Plants are not mere mechanical contraptions

plantsWe are often told that plants manufacture all their own carbohydrates, or that they only take up nutrients in their ionic (chemical) form or that the nutrients must be dissolved in water, but plants have many sources for everything they need.

Many of these misconceptions arise from the erroneous interpretation of scientific experiments.

We cannot learn about a plant’s natural behaviour from growing it in an unnatural, sterile environment, subjecting it to unusual treatments, and finally dissecting its remains. Plants are an extension - an inseparable part of their environment.

Science likes to reduce everything to a single variable, but life is not like that, and plants are not mere mechanical contraptions.

Everything has more than one cause and more than one effect - the natural environment is a complex, interrelated and connected web of life. The lives of plants, animals and microbes are so closely entwined that it’s impossible to know where one ends and another starts.

A single change, a single introduction of a foreign substance has far reaching effects. Many decades later we begin to see the disastrous environmental effects of pesticide use, or the climatic effects of clear-cutting our forests.

Organic gardeners seek to create and maintain healthy, biodiverse ecosystems, because ecosystem health and plant health go hand-in-hand.

In this way organic gardening supports the ecological roles of plants and their allies the formation of organic molecules, the very foundation of life.

Organic gardening is not about substituting toxic chemicals with less toxic ones, but about a whole different way of thinking and working.

It is a conscious effort to cooperate with Nature in the creation of health and abundance for all.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Ecological Plant Knowledge 2 - Ornamentals Online

The root cause of pests and weeds

mothEcosystems are composed of organisms with complementary needs, including light, air, space, water and nutrients.

Every species occupies a slightly different ecological niche, prefers different foods, and in turn contributes different value-added products towards someone else’s food supply.

The greater the biodiversity, the greater the overall fertility of the soil and the chances that all will find exactly what they require for optimal health.

We are what we eat, and the same is true for plants and all the other organisms in the garden. Just like us, plants, animals and microbes cannot thrive without balanced nutrition. We derive our food from the plants, the plants derive their food from the air and the soil.

We like to think that plant feeding insects and microbes - what we call “pests and diseases” - are the cause of our plants’ problems, but they are only the result.

Insects perceive their environment with their antennae. Just like man-made antennae, they are tuned to receive one or more electromagnetic frequencies. For instance, when the female moth’s pheromones attach themselves to the male moth’s antenna, the insect decodes their frequency and interprets it as “mate”.

Plants also emit many volatile substances, and only when a plant’s vibrational frequency enters the range a plant predator (“pest” or “disease organism”) equates with “food”, will it be attracted to and feed on that plant.

And that only happens when a plant is deficient in one or more nutrients. A healthy plant is - for all practical purposes - invisible to its predators.

Killing the “pests” does not change anything, as no amount of pesticides can provide the plant with the nutrients and growing conditions it requires. We can clearly see this in agriculture where year after year ever more potent pesticides are applied because we are forever treating the symptom, not the cause.

The cause of plant disease is poor nutrition and an unhealthy soil ecosystem. The fate of plants is as inseparably entwined with that of the soil as our fate is entwined with theirs. If we want to eat nutritious food we need to take care of the soil, for we too are part of this web of life.

We think we protect our plants by killing the plant-feeding insects and microbes, when in fact they remove only the weak and diseased, and keep plant species strong. Instead we should thank the insects for removing the nutrient deficient plants from our own food supply.

But what about weeds? Weeds are nothing more than plants that are better adapted to the growing conditions our garden provides than the plants we would rather see.

The ability of a plant community to adapt to changing environmental conditions is Nature’s intelligence at work. When one species suffers another takes its place, and the greater the diversity the more resilient the ecosystem is as a whole.

But when our lawn suffers and its helpful companion plants fill in and ensure a continuous food supply for the soil dwelling organisms we call them weeds and kill them. However, no amount of herbicides can provide the grass with the growing conditions and nutrients it requires.

A healthy ecosystem has the resilience to deal with adversity. Populations of individual species fluctuate through drought years and floods, excessive heat and cold, but the great diversity of species allows the community as a whole to retain its overall cohesion.

The loss of biodiversity on our planet is very troubling at this time of global climate change. We need to protect what remains, and to re-establish plants and soil health in the areas already depleted.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online

On beneficial insects

aphidsandlaybugs011In Mother Nature’s eyes all insects are created equal. Gardeners generally consider insects to be beneficial when they prey on plant “pests”. For instance ladybugs and their larvae eat aphids, and so in our eyes ladybugs are beneficial, aphids are not.

These sentiments arise from a misunderstanding of natural processes. A healthy plant may be nibbled on, but it will not be infested with insects or microbes. These only seriously attack nutrient deficient plants, and within an ecological context that is highly beneficial - to the plant species that remain strong, and also to the species that depend on the healthy plant as food, such as larger animals and humans.

When we import predaceous insects in response to a “pest” problem we actually use them as a pesticide. When their food source is exhausted they will either die or move on.

In a healthy, biodiverse garden it should never be necessary to import “beneficial” insects, because their populations will already be established. This also means that we need to tolerate a few “pests”, because without them their predators would have no food. The greater the plant diversity, the greater the insect diversity - and that is beneficial to the ecosystem as a whole.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Growing Food 1 - Fundamentals Online

Time to do things differently

ladybug-life-cycleIn our ignorance we gardeners have taken ourselves rather seriously. We thought it our job to feed our plants, and to protect them from their predators and as a result - unaware of the elegance of the web of life destroyed the soil ecosystem with toxic chemicals.

We thought we could improve on Nature and create order out of chaos. But Nature is already ordered and perfect, and plants already know how to take care of themselves.

In ignorance - and some say arrogance - the human species has devastated the planet’s natural vegetation and soils - its life support systems - to the point of possible self-destruction.

It is even more humbling to realize that on our own we are powerless to repair what we have destroyed.

It is not our task on this planet to capture carbon and nitrogen from the air, and gather the minerals from the soil and turn them into organic form. That is the domain of the plants and the soil-based web of life.

At best we can support them, to help them do their jobs as efficiently as possible.

How can we help?

To start with, we need to do a lot less.

We need to stop treating the garden as if it were a room needing decoration. We need to stop injuring our plants by cutting them into shapes that please us.

We need to stop killing - stop poisoning the soil and waterways and air, stop poisoning the insects and plants themselves.

We need to consciously think and work differently. Organic gardeners are not governed by maintenance schedules and social conventions. Instead each of our actions is evaluated for its effectiveness in supporting plants, animals and microbes to perform their ecological function.

Our role in the garden is to ensure optimal ecosystem health.

This is easy when we think of gardening in terms of
• creating communities,
• feeding the soil dwelling organisms,
• increasing microbial diversity, and
• ensuring sufficient water for ecosystem health.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online

Companion planting

In Nature plants always live in communities with many other plants, forming complementary relationships with respect to light exposure, root depth, nutrient and water requirements, and so on.

This is easy to see in forests, where the large trees are exposed to full sun, but the under-storey plants live in shade.

Photosynthesis is powered by solar energy, and plant leaves are living solar collectors, finely tuned to specific light intensities. Depending on their adaptation to ultraviolet light, leaves also contain different levels of natural sunscreens.

rootzones004When we design and plant our gardens it is very important to provide plants with the light conditions they require. The sensitive leaves of shade plants will burn in full sun, and sun plants are not able to get sufficient light for photosynthesis when placed in shade.

Prairie plants, such as grasses, have adapted to grow in full sun. It makes little sense to expect grasses to flourish in the shade of trees and they don’t, and so we should be thankful to the mosses when they fill in the bare spots and ensure a continued carbohydrate supply for the soil organisms.

We commonly associate companion planting with vegetable gardens, because experience has taught us that some plants “get along” well with each other, and others don’t. For instance, tomatoes grow well with carrots, lettuce and rosemary, but not with potatoes, cabbage and fennel.

The same principle applies to all plants. Those that have evolved within the same ecosystem are used to each other’s chemistry and other peculiarities and know how to live together.

Compatibility cannot be guaranteed when we group plants from many parts of the world in our ornamental gardens, even when we have taken the greatest care to provide them with the right growing conditions. It is generally easier to emulate native ecosystems, because the plants are so fully adapted to each other.

Of course our gardens can be aesthetically pleasing! We just need to be a bit more thoughtful in our plant choices and plant placement, and always remember that we are working with ecosystems.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Ecological Plant Knowledge 1 - Natives Online

On pruning

Essence36a Trees do not need pruning.

They already know how to engineer their structures to fortify themselves against prevailing winds and capture the best available light. The tree carefully balances the size and form of its trunk and branches with the size and extent of its root system.

This is important for its structural integrity - but it’s equally important to preserve the fine balance between the canopy’s capacity to photosynthesize, and the root system’s capacity to absorb nutrients and water from the soil. Whenever a tree is pruned, its roots die in corresponding proportion.

Pruning is a deliberate injury, weakening the tree and creating raw wounds that are unprotected against insect and microbe attacks.

We are often told that pruning is an effective method to protect our trees from pests and diseases - how can we possibly assume this is helpful to a tree that is already under stress?

With appropriate nutrition and growing conditions trees already know how to protect themselves, and they do not need our interference. It is time we learned to respect the intelligence in Nature.

Trees thrived long before the evolution of the human species, and will likely continue to thrive long after we are gone.

In almost all situations the “need” to prune arises from inappropriate plant choices. Trees require a lot of space, above and below ground. That beautiful little tree in the five gallon container may in time grow a canopy spanning thirty feet or more!

Our job is to create and maintain healthy ecosystems, and that includes preventing predictable problems.

Pruning can almost always be prevented through appropriate plant choices. Where pruning is unavoidable, please hire an arborist with extensive advanced training in tree health care.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online

Providing food and habitat for beneficial organisms

Ecosystems are composed of more than just plants. Animals, fungi, bacteria and other microscopic creatures are equally important participants, and all require year-round food and shelter.

Pollinating insects, for instance, need nectar - flowering plants - from spring to fall. But that is not enough - insects are very complex creatures and go through many changes during their short life.

Caterpillars - butterfly larvae - look nothing like the adults, and require totally different food. We don’t like it when they eat the leaves of our plants, but Nature operates on a very large scale and we need to look beyond our own comfort zone.

Many of the garden’s inhabitants over-winter in the litter layer, freshly provided by the plant community as it sheds its leaves for the winter. When we clean up our garden in the fall we do untold damage to thousands of animal populations including our native predaceous insects.

butterfly-life-cycleIn the spring we complain about aphids on our plants, yet in the fall we’ve killed their natural predators by raking up the leaves and depriving them of safe winter habitat.

Winter is a difficult time for many of our garden’s animals that require food or an undisturbed place to hibernate.

Gardens that provide a diversity of nuts, berries and seeds become havens for birds that in turn will reduce insect populations in the summer.

When we take time to observe we can see that everything is connected. Plants cannot exist on their own, but require the support of microbes, animals and even other plants in their environment.

The greater the diversity above ground, the greater the health and biodiversity in the soil. And of course the healthier the soil, the healthier the plants: biodiversity and health go hand-in-hand.

Our role is to provide plants with their natural companions, above ground and also in the soil.

We need to learn to create ecosystems rather than plant collections. And we need to allow our plants the opportunity to form the relationships that sustain them.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online

On mulching

mulch-layerNature’s soil management program starts with mulching.

Old leaves and other discarded plant parts are simply deposited on the soil surface, where they provide food and habitat for the soil dwellers.

What we call decay is actually the feeding activity of countless animals and microbes, most of which are too small to see without the most powerful microscope.

The greatest biodiversity on land is in the top few inches of the soil, where organic matter is constantly recycled and reduced to a size and form useful to the carbon fixing plants and the nitrogen fixing bacteria.

Allowing the garden to recycle its own waste in place creates optimal biodiversity - and with that optimal soil fertility and water holding capacity. Organic gardening is neither time consuming nor expensive.

We often mulch for a single purpose, such as to suppress weeds, prevent water evaporation from the soil, or for aesthetic reasons, and then look for a product that will do the job most effectively.

But by focusing on a single objective we miss out on all the other benefits provided by Nature’s interwoven web of life.

Covering the soil with plastic or landscape fabric may prevent some weed seeds from germinating, but it also interrupts the movement of water and air, and deprives the soil organisms of their source of carbohydrates the recycling organic matter.

By “solving” a single problem we have reduced soil biodiversity, soil fertility, soil water holding capacity, and ultimately plant health.

However, when we think of mulching as “feeding the soil dwelling organisms” it all becomes very simple. Our job now is to ensure that these organisms receive the best nutrition possible.

The best food for the lawn ecosystem is grass clippings. The best food for a tree or shrub ecosystem is its own discarded leaves and branches. Even in the forest the soil is not smothered in bark!

The rest we leave to Nature, which elegantly solves multiple problems with a single solution - providing the ideal food to the soil also protects the soil from compaction, prevents water evaporation, suppresses weed germination, increases soil fertility, increases the soil water holding capacity, increases the soil air supply, and increases plant and ecosystem health.

The earth will be on its way to recovery when the quality of the mulch becomes a status symbol among gardeners.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Growing Food 1 - Fundamentals Online

On fertilizing

might feeding on dead leafIf we return all the leaves, trimmings and grass clippings to the soil and work to increase soil biodiversity, the fertility of the soil will naturally become more balanced.

Organic fertilizers such as fish and kelp meal, and rock dusts such as basalt, granite and glacial moraine dust can be applied without a soil nutrient analysis because they contain a wide spectrum of nutrients in non-toxic quantities. They are perfect during the transition to organic practices, but seldom required in the long run.

There is no need to worry about “correcting the pH” and “feeding the plants”. This happens automatically when we manage our gardens as ecosystems.

Most synthetic substances - pesticides as well as fertilizers - are poisonous to the soil dwelling organisms. In our desire to “feed” our plants, or to rid them of a particularly troublesome “pest,” we kill thousands upon thousands of other animals and microbes, depleting the ecosystem of its biodiversity and resilience. With the depletion of nitrogen fixing bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi and their whole natural support system plants become dependent on chemical inputs.

In time the soil becomes lifeless, hard and cracked, prone to erosion, and unable to support the needs of plants. We call this “desertification”. Much of our land base has already become desertified through agricultural and forestry practices that ignore the needs and interdependency of plants and soil dwelling organisms.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online

Soil testing

magnifying-glassIn time, organic gardening restores and maintains a healthy nutrient balance in the soil.

For home gardeners, therefore, the most important indicators of soil health are mulch, moisture and microbes.

The mulch must be appropriate for the ecosystem and properly stratified, with a coarse litter layer on top, the finer humus particles incorporating into the soil below.

While the surface of the coarse litter layer may be dry, below it the mulch should be “moist like a wrung out sponge” exactly the same conditions we are trying to achieve in our compost because this is the ideal moisture environment for microbes.

Finally, it needs to be teeming with life.

The upper few inches of the soil, which include the mulch layer, are habitat for the greatest biodiversity on land. Most of the organisms are too small to be seen without a microscope, but many insects and even some fungal strands can be seen with the bare eye or a simple magnifying glass. The greater the diversity, the better.

If we take care of this, Nature takes care of everything else.

In situations such as commercial agriculture or golf course maintenance a more in-depth soil analysis may be required, and the results interpreted by a qualified organic land care professional.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Growing Food 1 - Fundamentals Online

Increasing microbial diversity with compost

compost-binAlthough we can’t see them, microbes play an important role in the lives of our plants. The easiest way to maximize microbial diversity is to allow all fallen leaves and branches to recycle back into the soil.

But not all gardens have been maintained with such insight. All too often the populations of plant allies have been severely impacted by the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and then we need to replenish or even re-establish them.

Compost and compost tea provide a great diversity of microbes and can be prepared from local materials without great expense. Specific microbial species, such as fermenting microorganisms and mycorrhizal fungi can be purchased in their dormant state and applied as needed.

Nature mulches - composting is a human invention.

A compost pile is constructed very deliberately as a breeding ground for microbes. We alternate layers of carbon rich and nitrogen rich materials, add a few layers of twigs for aeration, and then provide just enough water so it feels like a wrung out sponge.

This provides food, water and habitat for countless organisms, whose populations explode under these ideal conditions.

Well aerated, mature compost contains an incredible diversity of microbes, together with the complex organic compounds created in this microbial feeding frenzy. It also provides a balanced source of nutrients for plants and the soil dwelling organisms.

Compost is an invaluable source of microbes and nutrients when we need to restore soil biodiversity in a chemically managed garden. We can work it directly into the soil as we establish a new planting bed, or simply add it to the soil surface. The more the better, and then we simply protect it with leaf mulch and let Nature do the rest.

Many gardeners make themselves a lot of work by raking up all the leaves, composting them and returning them back to the soil as mulch. This is not only unnecessary but also unfortunate, as it destroys the soil’s natural protection, and habitat and food for countless soil dwelling organisms.

While compost can kick-start the process, in the long run soil biodiversity will be greater if we leave Nature alone.

By all means, compost the kitchen scraps and any “extras”, such as the leaves and branches raked off the patio. Then use your “black gold” as a supplement where it is most needed, and always defer to Nature’s wisdom.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online

Compost tea

Essence15aIn the gardening environment, the term “tea” is used for many different kinds of brews, such as manure tea, comfrey tea and stinging nettle tea.

These kinds of teas are usually simple extracts of nutrients and other organic substances. Sometimes they are allowed to ferment for a few days and then also become a source of fermenting microbes.

Compost tea, however, is deliberately brewed for a specific purpose - to extract and further multiply the microbes present in a small amount of compost. Therefore it is very important to use only high quality mature compost!

Anaerobic, foul smelling “compost” contains the wrong kinds of microbes that can actually kill your plants or negatively impact soil biodiversity.

To make compost tea, a few handfuls of compost are added to a special compost tea brewer filled with non-chlorinated water, together with small amounts of microbe food such as unsulfured molasses, rock dust, kelp meal and sea minerals. Finally, a constant stream of air is injected into the brewer to ensure a sufficient oxygen supply to the microbes. After a couple of days the surface of the brew will be frothy and the tea is ready to be used immediately.

Where compost is in short supply, compost tea is a great alternative for inoculating the soil with microbes. Additionally, the tea can be sprayed onto plant leaf surfaces, helping to protect plants from plant-feeding microbes.

Compost tea is neither a fertilizer nor a pesticide, but a microbial inoculant designed to increase biodiversity in the soil and on plant surfaces. Just as it is important to start with high quality compost, it is equally important to keep the brew well aerated.

Compost tea brewers are specially designed to minimize anaerobic pockets, where the wrong kinds of microbes can multiply. As an added measure of caution one can add a few tablespoons of beneficial fermenting microbes, which generally out-compete the pathogens in low oxygen environments.

Finally, it is important to use the finished compost tea immediately, as the brew becomes anaerobic within hours.

Commercial compost tea brewers can be pricey, but many home gardeners report great success with a simple homemade brewer made from a five gallon bucket, an aquarium pump and air tubing.

Organic gardening does not rely on products and compost tea is no exception. It is useful under some circumstances, but certainly not necessary.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Growing Food 1 - Fundamentals Online

About fermenting microbes

dragon-flies-on-pondThose who make their own sourdough bread or wine already know about fermenting microbes such as lactic acid bacteria and yeasts.

We can even make our own sourdough starter by capturing the wild microbes that are present everywhere in our environment, including the air.

Fermenting microbes are often referred to as facultative anaerobes because they can live at normal oxygen concentrations, in completely anaerobic environments, and everywhere in between.

They occupy a very unique niche in the ecology and produce many important products that benefit the whole soil based web of life, such as vitamins, antioxidants, hormones, enzymes, lactic acid, alcohol and antibiotics.

Fermenting microorganisms are plentiful in leaf litter, hence the typical brewery-type odour of leaf mould.

They can also be purchased as “EM”, “Efficient Microorganisms”, “Biosa” and others. They can be sprayed onto the soil or directly onto plant surfaces, with great benefit to plant and ecosystem health.

Fermenting microorganisms are widely used in some Asian countries, but not yet well known in other parts of the world.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online

More on mycorrhizal fungi

mycorrihzal-fungiMycorrhizal fungi are so important to plants that all but 2 plant families are known to form associations with them. Consequently they are prolific in the environment.

However, in some situations their populations are severely depressed or completely lacking, such as in compacted or water-logged soil, “manufactured” topsoil, peat based growing media and soil repeatedly treated with pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.

Even tilling will sever the fungal strands and repress fungal populations.

Mycorrhizal fungi can be re-introduced by incorporating them into the top few inches of the soil. A few handfuls of forest or natural grassland soil will do, but the spores can also be purchased.

Compost is not a source of mycorrhizal fungi because they can only live in association with the roots of living plants and do not multiply in compost.

In cases where a new garden is planted in imported “manufactured” topsoil it is highly advisable to add mycorrhizal fungi to the planting holes. Plant propagators do not commonly add these fungi to their growing media, nor are they guaranteed to be present in the imported soil.

Without these important allies plants are unable to access the water-insoluble phosphorus in the soil, and are also much more prone to drought stress.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Ecological Plant Knowledge 1 - Natives Online

How to grow a healthy lawn

grass-rootsLawns are blamed for all kinds of environmental problems, from pesticide use, to wasteful use of water and even for the moss that grows in shaded lawns. But these are not faults of the lawn.

All of them are the result of unfortunate choices: situating the lawn in the wrong light conditions, and treating it like a synthetic environment.

Taking care of the lawn is easy if we think of it as an ecosystem:

Provide appropriate light conditions - situate the lawn in full sun. Remember that the natural overstorey of grasslands is the sky!

Mow as high as possible while preserving the lawn’s ability to support traffic. Just like trees, grasses preserve the delicate balance between leaf mass (photosynthetic capacity) and root mass (water and nutrient uptake ability). Taller grass results in deeper roots with improved drought tolerance, nutrient uptake, and lawn health in general. This reduces the need for fertilizing and irrigation.

Feed the soil dwelling organisms - always leave the clippings, they are the equivalent to mulch in a garden bed.

Never use synthetic fertilizers, which are highly toxic to the microbes.

If the lawn needs a nutrient boost during the transition, use an organic fertilizer such as kelp or fish meal, or rock dusts such as basalt, granite or glacial moraine dust. These can be applied without a soil nutrient analysis. This eliminates the need for regular fertilizing and liming.

Increase soil biodiversity by applying mycorrhizal fungi or fermenting microorganisms, and by topdressing with compost or applying compost tea. In the long run this won’t be necessary, but it is essential during the transition from conventional to organic practices.
The increased fungal populations reduce thatch to ideal conditions, just enough to protect the grass crowns from traffic injury. This eliminates the need for de-thatching.

Provide sufficient water for optimal ecosystem health. With a reliable food source (grass clippings), and the occasional deep watering, the increased microbial populations will begin to re-structure the soil.

As they rearrange the soil particles to build themselves homes they create the ideal mix of soil pores to increase the soil’s water holding capacity, and provide sufficient air for themselves and for plant roots. Over time, this eliminates the need for aerating and greatly reduces - or even eliminates - the need for irrigation.

And what about weeds? Turf grasses were selected for their aggressiveness, their ability to form dense mats and compete with other species. A healthy, biodiverse lawn will have very few weeds, and chances are they won’t even be noticeable.

Weeds only flourish in a lawn when the growing conditions are unsuitable for the lawn. This is always the case in low light conditions, where the only solution is to remove the source of shade, or grow something other than lawn.

Weeds can also become established when the soil nutrient balance has been impaired due to regular application of synthetic fertilizers and lime.

If - in spite of all the good organic management - the weed populations do not diminish, it’s time to call in an organic land care professional with advanced education in soil and lawn management.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online

Providing sufficient water for ecosystem health

beetle-water-dropLike all living beings, plants require water - and they require heat to germinate from seed, produce flowers, and mature their fruits.

In Mother Nature’s garden, heat and plenty of water create ideal conditions for the immense abundance of the tropical rainforests.

The same heat without water creates deserts, but even there the occasional rain results in an overnight transformation as dormant seeds germinate and plants rush to complete their life cycle while water is available.

Here on the West Coast of Canada most of the rain falls in the winter, and little in the summer. So the greatest show of flowers is in the spring, with plants receding underground and going dormant to reduce their exposure to the summer drought. Our native Garry Oak meadows look brown and unkempt during the summer.

The plants in our food and ornamental gardens, however, come from all areas of the world. For the most part they require the high temperatures of summer to flower and fruit, and with rising temperatures their water requirements also rise.

Our role then is to ensure our gardens have sufficient water. If we have chosen plants that are not adapted to local precipitation patterns we need to irrigate them.

Equally important and usually overlooked is the need to ensure that all the organisms in the soil have enough water! After all they are the ones who feed and protect our plants, and they are the ones who increase the water holding capacity of the soil itself.

And in Mother Nature’s garden the soil is the greatest water reservoir.

Withholding water from our gardens is exactly the wrong answer as we are becoming concerned about dwindling water supplies. It creates a downward spiral of decline, decreasing biodiversity in the soil, reducing the health of our plants and reducing the amount of water our soils can store.

Instead we need to work to increase biodiversity both above and below ground. We must beware of the single cause - single effect mentality, and manage our gardens as ecosystems.

Currently, the politically correct way to reduce water use in landscapes is through drip irrigation - delivering water directly to plant roots and not “wasting” it on the rest of the soil. This is a prime example of single cause single effect thinking.

Our garden is not a mere plant collection, but a complex ecosystem - a single interconnected organism - that needs to be managed as a whole. Plants derive their food and countless other vital organic substances from the activity of the soil dwelling organisms. Without them, they will “starve” and become sick. Sick plants become food for plant-feeding insects and microbes.

Drip irrigation was developed for situations where plants derive their nutrition entirely from fertilizers and where their root zone is restricted to a known soil volume, such as in container plant production, or food production in arid climates.

Typically those plants are grown in sterile growing media or otherwise lifeless soil. For the most part these are short-term situations, where the plants are harvested at the end of their growing season, or sold and transplanted into the environment.

There is no opportunity or intention to develop a functioning soil ecosystem.

In perennial landscapes, drip irrigation is not only unsuitable, it’s environmentally irresponsible.

Land-based ecosystems have evolved with overhead water. Soil dwelling insects and other animals depend on little pockets of water in the coarse litter layer, and microbial populations will dwindle and become imbalanced without sufficient moisture.


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Ecological Plant Knowledge 2 - Ornamentals Online

Creating an optimally healthy garden

healthy-gardenThe buzzword in gardening and agricultural circles these days is “integrated pest management” (IPM).

Pest management is nothing more than symptom management - because the real cause of plant disease is nutrient deficiency, not the presence of plant feeding insects or microbes. Killing the insects will not make the plants healthy - plant disease is not a pesticide deficiency.

Worldwide, billions of pounds of pesticides are used every year in an effort to combat plant enemies. Pest management is a warfare approach, health management is a welfare approach.

Pest management decreases biodiversity, health management increases biodiversity. Pest management sends the ecosystem on a downward spiral towards ill health and death, health management creates abundance and health for all.

Health management is easy when we manage our gardens, forests and agricultural fields as ecosystems.

And that is it - the essence of organic gardening. We call it organic gardening, because it acknowledges and supports the wholeness of Nature, the interconnectedness of all life.

The beauty of organic gardening is that it allows each of us to make a contribution that benefits the whole. We may think that our actions are insignificant, but every little piece of earth whose biological function has been maintained or repaired adds to the health of the environment overall.

This is important in cities where the natural environment has been virtually destroyed by human activities. And it is also important in the country, where conventional agricultural and forestry practices have severely impacted the natural biodiversity, and reduced the capacity of the soil to support life.

To repair and protect our planet’s biodiversity we need to restore and maintain year-round food and habitat for all the earth’s creatures.

May your garden be a source of health and abundance!


We go much deeper into this topic in our online course, which you can discover here:

Organic Master Gardener Online

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions for Gaia College students. 

If you do not see your question here, please contact us.


Are OMG and OHS the same?

Yes, the two courses Organic Master Gardener and Organic Horticultural Specialist are the same. The reason for the two course titles is based on preferences expressed by educational partners and different students groups.

 

I live in a different region...

Q: I don't live on Vancouver Island, is my region covered in the Organic Master Gardener course?
A: Yes, the course is designed to be completed wherever you live and during any season. Whether you live in an apartment or on a farm has no impact on completing the assignments.  

Q: Will the Organic Master Gardener course be relevant for areas outside of Canada?
A: Our course is designed to take non-Canadian students into consideration and offers alternatives.

 

The ground is frozen, what should I do about a soil sample?

When completing the course in the winter, before the ground freezes solid, collect a 1 cup soil sample from an area you'd like to have the soil tested for. You can keep it in a plastic bag until needed throughout the course.

Tip:

The soil can crust over with frost/ice but just below the surface, with a good spade or pick the soil is usually dig-able; also, closer to buildings the soil freezes last.

 

Can other schools coursework be used for prerequisites? - 1

Q: Can I send proof of completing programs that included SketchUp Pro and horticulture to act as my prerequisites for the Ecological Landscape Design program?
A: No, we do not accept other education programs as equivalent prerequisites for the Ecological Landscape Design Online course.

 

 

I'm looking for more info on course descriptions...

Q: Am I able to see a detailed syllabus? I wasn't able to find one on the website
A: Yes, the week by week course lessons are displayed in the course schedule under the course of your choice, and you will see it once you log into the coursework. To access; click on your course from the main menu, then click on the schedules and registration button to see the weekly agenda(s).

Q: Do you have a Course Outline available?
A: Yes, the course outlines are within the main menu of our website, and each course's overview is in the 'tabbed' section, after the first tab.

Q: Are printed materials available or provided for your courses?
A: No, we are unable to provide printable versions of the slideshows from our courses.

Q: How long is the course?
A: Courses run 14 weeks.

Q: How often is the classwork? I would like to organize my time.
A: Each of the online classes have specific weekly hand-in dates which you will see when you start the course. Other than that, it is up to you to organize when you do your work; we recommend a regular daily routine (early morning, before work - last thing at night, before bed). We recommend a minimum of 10 hours per course per week.

Each of the classroom courses will have their own format.

 

 

Is there any special equipment needed...?

Q: Is the Mac book Pro a sufficient device for the Sketch Up Pro for Landscape Design Course?


A: The Mac book Pro would be sufficient in ‘brain power’ to do the work. However, we recommend an additional screen to have a larger workspace to work with.

 

Time to complete...

* Time requirement by the day...

Q: Is it a problem if a lesson cannot be completed in the specified week?
A: There are no scheduled times for the course work. Students are expected to complete their allotted work at their own convenience during each week. If you are not available during the week, discuss it with your instructor and they will guide you in how to work ahead or catch-up.

* Time requirement by the week...

Q: How much time each week should I commit to a course?
A: We recommend 6-10 hours per week for most of our courses, please check the studying online tab for the specific course you are interested in.

* Time requirement by the Diploma...

Q: Is there a timeline on how long I would need to complete the other courses in order to obtain the diploma as well?
A: No, there isn't a timeline for completing the diploma.

 

 

Technical access...

Q: Can I access the online resources even after I finished the course?
A: Yes, you will have access indefinitely to the resources of this course. Once the course is closed, you will get transferred into the Alumni course where all the resources are made available. This may take some time...please be patient.

Q: I've downloaded Google Chrome but I'm having trouble installing it on Windows 10, can you help?
A: Follow this link (or copy and paste this link information into your browser window) [https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/6315198?hl=en] for instructions on installing Google Chrome from the download.

Q: Though I am logged in...it will not allow me to access the online course
A: Please try this first: Turn off your computer (Log out) of our website and then log in again.

Q: I am registered, but I can't get into my course. Is there a problem?
A: You will be able to access your course on the course start date. The first module is about introductions and getting to know the system. You will have time to get aquainted.

Course and payment options...

Q: Can I use RESPs at Gaia College?
A: Yes, Gaia College is on the Certified Educational Institutional list for RESP eligibility. You can find the list here

Government of Canada: Certified Educational Instituations

or contact them by phone at 1-800-267-3100.

Q: Are your fees Canadian dollars?
A: Yes, all our fees are listed in Canadian dollars.

Q: What payment options do you accept?
A: We accept Debit Card, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Cheque, or Money Orders (we do not accept down payments or payment installments), and E-transfers. Payments made by Cheque, Money Order or E-transfer will have to be verified before access to your course is granted.

Q: Are your courses tax deductible? Do you issue a T2202A?
A: We issue a T2202A for tuition paid directly to Gaia College. Students that register with another education partner need to contact that education partner. If you didn't get one after your course starts, check your junk folder or trash folder.

Q: When do you send out T2202As?
A: We send T2202As by email when the course enrolment deadline has passed, usually 3 weeks after the course has started. Please check the junk folder in your email account, if you cannot find it in your inbox. Please make sure your email address is up to date in your account.

Q: Do you have sponsorship, grants, or bursaries?
A: No, we do not. There are options you can check out through WorkSafe BC, or WorkBC, but we do not do the paperwork for you and your employer may be the one doing the paperwork.

Q: Do you have International Student funding or visas available?
A: No, we do not. Our courses are online and available worldwide 3 times a year; and, may be completed from your own home.

 

 

Can other schools coursework be used for prerequisites? - 2

Q. Do studies at Dalhousie fulfill the prerequisites for these courses?
A. Courses done at other institutions (not Gaia College curriculum) are not accepted to count for a prerequisite course.

Advanced Diploma Notice - Discontinued

Notice:

We’ve found that the critical mass of people are not ready for all our core course work at this time, and we find ourselves unable to offer this option anymore. Most of the Advanced Diploma in Urban Permaculture courses are still available, and offered online for individual certificates and Continuing Education Credits (CEC).

For those of you willing to go the extra mile, we still offer our Gaia College Diploma in Organic Land Care. The Gaia College Diploma in Organic Land Care fulfills the advanced education requirements for becoming a SOUL Certified Organic Land Care Professional.

Classroom Courses notice

No new classroom courses are being scheduled, due to low enrolment levels. We are working to see how these courses can be revised in order to attract more students.

I've finished my course. Now what?

Q: I've finished my course. Now what?

A: Congratulations!  I know how much work that was :D Now, we wait for your teacher's list, and when it arrives, the certificates (or Diplomas - once you've ordered, paid, and sent a copy of your certificates) gets put into the printing mill awaiting mailing.


Please make sure your contact information is current in our system, so we send the Certificate or Diploma to the right place. All this usually takes up to a month. If you haven't heard from us by then, call or email info@gaiacollege.ca 

Also remember to sign up for our Gaia College Alumni page on Facebook, and if you are so inclined, send us a 'Testimonial' to use in our marketing, and social networking please and thank you very much! We'd love to see your projects!

I need a transcript

Q: I need a transcript for my new employer. Can you send that to me?

A: We don't have transcripts to send out. We don't have marks, so the information we provide (other than the certificate) is whether you passed or failed. We do have a copy of your certificate to send to where you indicate (There is a cost - check out our 'Policies' section on the bottom menu bar). Please send us an email at our information email, and we will get to it as soon as we can. If you took the course through one of our educational partners (Seneca, Humboldt, Burnaby, Stony Plains, Toronto, Victoria, etc.) then you will have to contact them directly for your information. 

Course planning

Q: I am planning on completing my Diploma, and was wondering which online courses are available in which term upcoming?

A: We have planned our online courses up to the Fall of 2020, with some courses already locked in for 2021. 

 Course Name

September 2019

 Start Date

September 9

Finish Date

December 13

Business Skills for Land Care Professionals

Yes

Ecological Landscape Design

Yes

Ecological Plant Knowledge 1 - Natives

Yes

Ecological Plant Knowledge 2 - Ornamentals

Yes

Growing Food

Yes

Living Green Infrastructure

Yes

Organic Horticulture Specialist

Yes

Organic Master Gardener

Yes

Rainwater Harvesting and Management

Yes

SketchUp Pro for Landscape Design

Yes

Art of Online Facilitation

N/A

 

Course Name

Winter 2020

Spring 2020

Fall 2020

Start Date

January 13

May 11

September 14

Finish Date

April 17

August 14

December 18

Business Skills for Land Care Professionals

Yes

N/A

Yes

Ecological Landscape Design

Yes

Yes

Yes

Ecological Plant Knowledge 1 - Natives

N/A

Yes

Yes

Ecological Plant Knowledge 2 - Ornamentals

N/A

Yes

Yes

Growing Food

Yes

Yes

Yes

Living Green Infrastructure

N/A

N/A

Yes

Organic Horticulture Specialist

Yes

Yes

Yes

Organic Master Gardener

Yes

Yes

Yes

Rainwater Harvesting and Management

Yes

Yes

Yes

SketchUp Pro for Landscape Design

Yes

Yes

Yes

Art of Online Facilitation

N/A

Yes

N/A






 Course Name

Winter 2021

Spring 2021

Fall 2021

 Start Date

January 11

May 10

September 13

Finish Date

April 16

August 13

December 17

Business Skills for Land Care Professionals

     

Ecological Landscape Design

     

Ecological Plant Knowledge 1 - Natives

     

Ecological Plant Knowledge 2 - Ornamentals

     

Growing Food

     

Living Green Infrastructure

     

Organic Horticulture Specialist

Yes

Yes

Yes

Organic Master Gardener

Yes

Yes

Yes

Rainwater Harvesting and Management

     

SketchUp Pro for Landscape Design

Yes

Yes

Yes

Art of Online Facilitation

     

Technical Skills

Q: Are there any special technical skills required to complete the course(s)?

A: No, most of our courses are complete units ready for the first time gardener. These are 'college' level courses and students need to be computer-savvy (email, log-in/log-out, typing skills [recommend 50wpm], downloading/uploading files, etc.), able to converse well in English, and able to dedicate the time needed to read, understand, and problem solve the coursework each week in a timely manner.

 

Gaia College Student Retake Policy

Any student registered directly with Gaia College may repeat any online course taken since January 2018. There is a $400 administration fee. This policy does not apply to Gaia College Educational Partner courses. Gaia College reserves the right to change this policy at any time.

 

Studying Online

Q: I've never taken an online course, is it hard?

A: Studying on-line is very different from learning in a face-to-face classroom setting. It may be more convenient – or for some it may be the only way they can take our courses - but it is definitely not easier.

The University of Illinois has provided some excellent pre-assessment information for potential on-line students. 
Please complete the online Self Evaluation before you decide to take one of our courses: 
http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/resources/tutorials/pedagogy/selfEval.asp

And please read the article entitled 
'What Makes A Successful Online Student?' 
http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/resources/tutorials/pedagogy/StudentProfile.asp.

 

Q: I'm not very good with computers, is that okay?

A: Our courses are College level courses, and the appropriate computer skills are needed to complete the coursework. We've found an online testing site that will help assess your computer skills to see if you are ready for online work.

https://www.digitalliteracyassessment.org/

Try the 'Essential Computer Skills section (using the appropriate test of the last two; either Windows or Mac)

Try the Microsoft Word, and Social Media test as well to establish your literacy with computers. 

If you did not pass, get help with the problem areas and try again.

Uncategorised

Gaia College

Build your skills in ORGANIC LAND CARE

Create naturally sustainable gardens, landscapes, farms, and green spaces.

 
HealthySOIL 200
HealthyPLANTS 200
HealthyECOSYSTEMS 200

Established in 2003, Gaia College offers a proven curriculum in organic land care. With Gaia, people around the world have learned how to design, install and maintain landscapes to promote and preserve the health of the environment. (See their testimonials!) Our online courses start in January, May, and September and run 14 weeks. Some of our courses are also offered by our education partners, online and in classrooms. All graduates are welcomed into the Gaia community with lifetime access to resources and online forums – it’s easy to update your skills!

HOME GARDENERS: Create green spaces that are lush and beautiful year after year.
LANDSCAPERS: Show your clients the way of the future and earn accreditations.
SMALL FOOD GROWERS: Stay up to date on environmentally sustainable technologies.
MUNICIPALITIES & DEVELOPERS: Reap benefits beyond sustainability of green spaces.

In Remembrance of Heide Hermary

30 September, 1948 - 18 March, 2016

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Site Design

Website design: Michael Hermary and Phil Nauta (Organic Gardener)
Photography: Heather Nicholds (Healthy Vegan Recipes)

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Diploma in Organic Land Care

Are you looking

  • To live and work in a way that is congruent with your personal values?
  • For gardening skills that are relevant in these times of environmental and social change?
  • For a career that satisfies your need to make a meaningful contribution to your community?

For over a decade Gaia College has been working to transform horticulture education. Our courses integrate essential knowledge of ecology, permaculture and organic gardening to build a solid foundation for employment, self-employment, or simply greater personal enjoyment.


Overview

Upon completion of 4 core courses and 1 elective, students earn the Gaia College Diploma in Organic Land Care. Each of these courses focuses on a unique aspect of organic land care:

ONLINE CORE COURSES

SketchUp Pro for Landscape Design should be taken as a pre-requisite or co-requisite to Ecological Landscape Design

ONLINE ELECTIVE COURSES

All courses are offered on a part-time access basis to allow students to continue to work while studying. Students can combine online courses with classroom courses, regardless of where they are offered. Students can substitute classroom courses for online courses where applicable.

Courses can be taken individually and in no particular order (excepting SketchUp Pro for Landscape Design which is required before or concurrently with Ecological Landscape Design); we strongly suggest that everyone start with the Organic Master Gardener course.

The Gaia College Diploma in Organic Land Care fulfills the advanced education requirements for becoming a SOUL Certified Organic Land Care Professional.

CLASSROOM COURSE EQUIVALENTS

Classroom courses are not being offered at this time. 

COURSES TAKEN THROUGH EDUCATIONAL PARTNERS

We recognize courses taken through Educational Partners, both online and classroom. 

Student Comment

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate still having access to class materials. It's been very useful, and a luxury compared to most post-secondary institutions. I really appreciate it! I think this should serve as real incentive for potential Gaia students, especially those that know the restrictions and inaccessibility of post-secondary course materials after graduation, because your student account is deactivated or you had to sell your texts. We get a lot for our course fee with Gaia. All the best, and keep up the good work. Brianna van de Wijngaard

Course Schedule

CORE COURSES Jan May Sep
Organic Master Gardener
Organic Horticulture Specialist
x x x
Ecological Plant Knowledge 1 - Natives   x x
Landscape Design Basics with SketchUp Pro x x x
Ecological Landscape Design x x x

ELECTIVES
     
Business Skills for Land Care Professionals x   x
Growing Food 1 - Fundamentals x x x
Ecological Plant Knowledge 2 - Ornamentals   x x
Living Green Infrastructure     x
Rainwater Harvesting & Management x x x

Classroom Courses

Classroom courses varies by location and semester. Visit our classroom course page for more information. 

Diploma Costs

The total cost of acheiving the Diploma is $3995, consisting of five courses (each $795) and an administrative fee of $20.00. The course fees are due upon registration in each course; the administrative fee due when submitting records of course completion. 

Students are required to pay GST or HST on tuition fees as appropriate.

Students will receive the Diploma in Organic Land Care upon submitting records of course completion, together with a fee of $ 20.00.

Please contact us if further clarification is required.

Application and Payment

Once you have completed all requirements for the Diploma in Organic Land Care you may apply for the Diploma here:

Apply Now

Please note: you must mail or email copies of your certificates from all the core courses and the elective course(s) with your application.