What is Organic Land Care?

Organic land care (OLC) is how we design, install and maintain landscapes to promote and preserve the health of the environment. OLC is a horticulture specialty that addresses practices that are 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, and have less expensive inputs in the long run.

Why should you obtain a Diploma in Organic Land Care?

Demand for organic and ecologically sustainable garden and landscape services has grown steadily across Canada over the past two decades, roughly keeping pace with demand for organic foods and products. Organic horticultural services now represent a small but significant portion of the overall horticultural sector in Canada and, increasingly, employers are creating positions for, and seeking, workers with skills specific to organic gardening and landscaping. 

Gaia College has developed curriculum specific to organic gardening practices and has delivered educational programs online and through a variety of partner colleges and industry groups, with close to 5000 student enrolments to date. 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.

Who Should Apply for the Diploma

  • 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: The Organic Horticulture Specialist/Organic Master Gardener and Growing Food courses together are fundamental courses for anyone wanting to grow edible landscapes including small market growers. These courses focus on applying organic land care principles but not the financial aspects of a market garden business. 
  • Municipalities and Developers: Reap benefits beyond sustainability of green spaces.

About the Gaia College Diploma in Organic Land Care

Course Planning

Semester Timing

Online courses run 14 weeks; starting in January, May, and September. All courses offered take into account the weather during a Canadian winter. All practical assignments can be completed throughout the year with the exception of collecting a soil sample for the purpose of performing a soil sedimentation test in the Organic Master Gardener / Organic Horticulture Specialist course. This soil sample can be collected during warmer weather and frozen for later use in the course.

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

It is highly recommended that students complete the courses in the order listed above. While we do not require this, it does make the successful completion of each course easier. SketchUp Pro for Landscape Design is 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; we strongly suggest that everyone start with the Organic Master Gardener / Organic Horticulture Specialist course.

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

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


Here is the schedule of online courses up to the Fall of 2022. 

Course Name

Winter 2022

Spring 2022

Fall 2022

Start Date

January 10

May 19

September 12

Finish Date

April 15

August 12

December 16

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 

Landscape Design Basics with SketchUp Pro 

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 

Art of Online Facilitation

 N/A Yes  N/A

Diploma Costs

Fees

The total cost of acheiving the Diploma in Organic Land Care 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.

Fees include:

  • Comprehensive online educational materials
  • Unlimited access to our online course resources, community center, including libraries, discussion forums and much more

Please contact us if further clarification is required.

Payment Options

You can pay for your courses with a credit card, eTransfer, money order or cheque. 

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

Career Planning and Professional Development

Background

iStock-1176797050.jpgDemand for organic and ecologically sustainable garden and landscape services has grown steadily across Canada over the past two decades. Organic horticultural services now represent a growing portion of the overall horticultural sector in Canada. Increasingly, employers are seeking workers with organic horticulture knowledge and training. 

Gaia College has been in the forefront developing curriculum for organic urban horticulture. We have been delivering programs online and through education partners, with more than 5000 students since 2003.

Organic Land Care Standards

As yet, there is no formal specific regulation for organic urban land care. However, the Canadian Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL) has developed and maintains the Canadian Standard for Organic Land Care. This standard is freely available for use as a reference guide of best practices. Individuals may also complete a recognized course in organic land care and pass an exam based on the SOUL standard to become a Certified Organic Land Care Practitioner. Please visit the SOUL website: Society for Organic Urban Land Care - Accredited Practitioner

To date over 185 organic horticultural professionals have opted to complete this voluntary certification process.  

Education in organic and sustainable land care practices is offered by a variety of institutions across Canada.

  • Nearly 5,000 individuals across Canada have completed organic education courses and programs through Gaia College to date
  • Roughly 4000 businesses across Canada currently advertise a full range of organic landscape and garden services.
  • Most lawn and turf maintenance companies across Canada offer some organic services, adding to the total number of organic workers in the industry.

Employment Requirements

  • Completion of college or other accredited programs in horticulture, landscaping or landscape design may be required for some positions.
  • Experience and/or training in landscape or garden installation and care.
  • Understanding of the functions of soil microbiology and biology, air, light and water in plant and ecosystem health.
  • Completion of specialized programs and/or courses in organic gardening, organic landscaping, soil health analysis, soil microbiology, rainwater  management, plant health or composting may be required for some positions.
  • Organic service provider certification from an independent or professional body may be required for some positions.  

Current job titles used in the labour market

Organic Gardener, Organic Landscaper, Organic Landscape Maintenance Worker,  Organic Plant Grower, Organic Market Gardener / Farmer, Organic Landscape Designer, Rainwater Harvest Consultant, Organic Gardening Educator, Organic Turf Specialist, Organic Soils Consultant, Living Soils Consultant, Organic Garden Consultant, Organic Garden Designer, Organic Master Gardener, Organic Land Care Practitioner, Organic Land Care Professional, Permaculture Designer, Permaculture Consultant, Edible Garden Designer, Edible Landscape Designer, Ecological landscaper, Ecological landscape designer, among others.

Organizations that Recognize our Courses

  • Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA)
  • National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP - USA)
  • BC Society of Landscape Architects (BCSLA)
  • International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)
  • Master Gardeners of Ontario Incorporated (MGOI)
  • Integrated Pest Management Canada (IPM Canada)
  • Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA)
  • Canadian Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL)
  • Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)
  • WorkSafe BC

Professional Qualifications

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

The following are the two types of accreditation/certification that SOUL offers:

SOUL Accredited Organic Land Care Practitioner
SOUL Certified Organic Land Care Professional

 For more information about SOUL please visit their website at organiclandcare.ca

How to Enrol

 

When you are ready to enrol in the Diploma in Organic Land Care program you simply need to register for a Gaia College Student account first (if you haven't already) and then enrol and pay for your first course(s).

You can find more instructions about creating your student account and enrolling in your courses here:

https://www.gaiacollege.ca/accessing-your-online-classroom.html

Please note that there is no time limit for fulfilling all of the course requirements, so you are free to enrol for the courses when they can fit into your schedule. 

How to Obtain Your Certificate

Once you have completed all requirements for the Diploma in Organic Land Care you may apply for the Diploma by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We will confirm your completion requirements and send you a link for payment. 

Please note: If you've taken any courses via an educational partner, we may request proof of completion.

"The Organic Land Care diploma program has transformed my understanding of horticulture, ecosystems and what we need to do to take care of our planet to secure a future for humanity.  I began by taking just the Organic Master Gardener course because I wanted to grow better flowers without using chemicals and pesticides. After completing the first course, I was even more inspired to take others and then decided that I wanted to earn the diploma. Having now just completed it, I next want to continue my involvement and learning by becoming SOUL accredited and obtaining full-time employment in the field of organic land care or landscape design. If we are going to move forward sustainably and make sound ecological and land-use choices, we have to - in the words of founder Heide Hermary - "do things differently". Thank-you, Gaia College, for opening my eyes to the kind of relationships humanity needs to develop with Nature." 

- Laurie Smith, August 2021