Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture

Course Gives Students Hands-On Training in Crop Production

Published Date: Nov 30, 2017 5:00:00 PM

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On a brisk Thursday morning in September, a group of Cal Poly Pomona students picked Valencia oranges at the university’s Spadra Farm.

But this wasn’t a carefree social event. The students gathered the fruit and took to the campus packinghouse. Wearing hair nets, gloves, and other protective gear, the students washed, graded, and sorted the oranges before they were squeezed for juice to be sold at the Cal Poly Pomona Farm Store.

This was ABM 499, a class in Commercial Agribusiness Production, which offers students from across the Huntley College of Agriculture a hands-on education on commercial crop production.

 “We work with students from the growing side in plant science, the food safety and technology side, and the operations or agribusiness management side,” said Katie Horvath, the lecturer who teaches the course. “The class is open to any major for students to experience first-hand a supply chain, pack house, and all the safety and regulations that follow.”

Before they could pick and harvest crops, the students had to become certified food handlers, learn good manufacturing practices and federal and state regulations on selling locally grown produce.  

The students then picked a Cal Poly Pomona-grown commodity that they would use throughout the quarter for various lab assignments, including a sales sheet, costing sheet, raw specification sheet, and Food and Drug Administration-approved produce labels.

Students say the experience they gained in the class will help them in their careers.

“I’ve learned packing regulations when it comes to produce and figured out the actual costs required to successfully harvest and grow a commodity,” said third-year agribusiness management student Karly Saurman.

Chris Rickards, a fourth-year agribusiness management student, said the class offers hands-on industry training.

“This class helps me career-wise because I plan on managing workers, keeping safety workers, and following good agricultural practices,” said Rickards, who plans to become a pest control advisor and work in production agriculture.

- Huntley College of Agriculture student Madeline Dolan wrote this story.