Gardening: Olds College is a leader in online pot courses

Olds College opened its doors to students in 1913 with programs that were practical and relevant at that time; field husbandry, farm mechanics, and domestic sciences. Overthe past 105 years, the college has modified, removed and added programs to stay current. They work with industry to insure that courses are relevant enabling students would be employable once they graduated.

This year Olds College launched an online Cannabis Production Program to teach basic skills to people who are either working in a large cannabis growing operation or are looking for employment in that expanding field.

Anyone signing up for the program must be 18 years old or older. It is recommended that people signing up for the program should have at least finished Grade 11. People with a criminal record should have an assessment before taking the courses as they may be barred from working in the industry.

Four different online courses and a week-long field study must be completed for students to complete level one of cannabis production. Each course costs $799 while the practical component, costs $499. People with prior horticultural education may apply to get the first and or second course waved.

Each class is described as a four-week long intensive study where students are expected to put in 15 or more hours weekly.

The first class – Introduction to Horticulture Production – goes over the basics of horticulture starting with basic botany, plant life cycle and seed storage. It will also cover a number of different propagation methods and an overview of commercial crops.

The second class — Introduction to Crop Production and Facilities — exposes students to different growing systems. Environmental management, irrigation, soil, hydroponics, different growing mediums and pest control will be discussed within the context of different crops. Students should be aware that there are many different growing systems and this is an overview and is unlikely to go into detail about any one facility.

To take the following two courses, students must have completed and passed the first two courses or received a waiver from Continuing Education for having prior horticultural credentials.

Cannabis Legalization and Documentation will give the students the knowledge needed to comply with government standards. It will include the facility, staff, quality assurance, quality control as well as post-harvest handling. As this is a new industry, and requirements may change, students will learn how to keep up to date on all policies.

Horticulture for Cannabis Production is the last in this series of online courses. This course is tailored to cannabis production including cannabis; botany, growth cycle, genetics, propagation, pest managing and harvesting. Grow room designs, structures and set ups will also be examined.

The last class – Practical Cannabis Production — is a week-long field study at a licenced cannabis growing operation. Presently Sundial Growers, or Terra Life Sciences, in the Olds area is providing a location for the course, but Olds College’s continuing education is willing to contact other facilities that are more convenient to students.

In this week-long course, students receive hands-on experience in all parts of cannabis production from propagation to drying and packaging the product. There is also an on-line component to the course to enhance the student’s learning.

Introduction to Cannabis Retail is a separate four-week, online course. Students will gain knowledge about available product as well as rules and regulations that governs sales. Cost is $799.

To learn more about the cannabis courses go to the website or give them a call.

Linda Tomlison is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at

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