The Bio-Ag Center serves as an outdoor laboratory and field site on the Stanislaus State campus for observation, demonstration, and experimentation relating to the permaculture approach to sustainable land use and environmental planning. Under the guiding principles of permaculture, we utilize biointensive and dynamic approaches to gardening and agriculture, while promoting heritage plant and animal species and guilds of plants and animals. In this outdoor laboratory and classroom, faculty from a wide variety of disciplines can provide practical experience and field application for their classes on topics such as analysis of ecosystems, soil relationships, microclimate conditions, plant and microfaunal diversity, ethnoecology, gardening as therapy, landscape restoration, landscape art, and others. Central to the role of the BioAg Center is environmental education; the campus site will be used for the presentation of educational workshops for future and practicing teachers, elementary, middle, and high school classes and other community groups. Another role of the BioAg Center is to teach basic principles of permaculture techniques which can be used in urban gardening, elementary and secondary school-based programs, residential landscaping and in agriculture in general.
The focus is on maintaining and improving soil fertility, preservation of heritage species, building on complex ecosystem principles that emphasize food web interactions and increasing plant and animal diversity on site. An additional principle is to strive for low cost and low maintenance activities on site through the use of appropriate technology in alternative energies, irrigation, seed saving, recycling, soil preparation and agriculture in general. Aspects of good nutrition and the use of plants/gardens as therapy are stressed. The ethnic diversity in the Central Valley provides an excellent opportunity for studies in ethnoecology and for demonstration ethnic gardens on site.