We serve a diverse audience of readers engaged
in regenerative, organic and sustainable agriculture
at many levels for many reasons. We want to hear
from you about the issues that are important to
your life and work, and your vision for agriculture
that builds a strong future.
We run selected comments from readers in this
space. Please tell us who you are, with name,
address and phone number for verification. Sending
correspondence to us conveys a right to us to
publish it as is, or in a form edited for length
and/or style. Opinions expressed in this space
do not necessarily represent the perspective of
The New Farm® or The Rodale Institute®.
If you have something important to say about
agriculture in a sustainable global food system,
please -- speak
Posted March 31, 2005: Students at the University
of Minnesota Twin Cities campus participating in the student
group What’s Up in Sustainable Agriculture (WUSA) have
been working to create the school’s first student-run
campus farm. This student-supported initiative started last
summer with a trial-run student vegetable production garden,
in which eight students participated in a bimonthly summer
seminar series discussing various types of organic and sustainable
gardening techniques such as composting, soil management,
pest management and preservation of produce.
During the past fall semester, students held planning-and-brainstorming
meetings to come up with a solid mission and vision for the
1 acre of on-campus land that would become the permanent student
farm plot beginning summer 2005. Students are interested in
combining research, education and outreach while experimenting
with and learning about perennial woody plants and grasses,
companion planting, soil management, and many other topics.
The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (www.misa.umn.edu)
provided the students with the initial $200 needed for the
first year land lease. As winter approached, the field was
planted with a cover crop of rye. While the rye is now dormant
under the January snow, the planning process continues.
Students reached out to several professors for help in the
planning process, resulting in the creation of the Student
Sustainable Farm Planning course. The course—which was
also formed from student initiative and co-taught by professors
Albert Markhart, Ph.D. (Department of Horticulture) and Paul
Porter, Ph.D. (Dept. of Agronomy) —uses the text Building
a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan
for Farms and Rural Businesses. This publication was created
by a planning team in 1996 for the Minnesota Institute for
Sustainable Agriculture. As students develop a business plan
for their student farm, they are learning the steps to creating
a sustainable farm or sustainable-related business. The publication
helps students look at values, goals, and strategic planning.
The location of the student’s 1 acre is significant;
it sits on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota.
It is adjacent to the Gibbs Farm museum, (www.rchs.com),
which has a traditional Dakotah garden with native plantings
and pioneer gardens with heritage seeds, along with a Dakotah
Medicine Teaching Garden. Across the street from the farm
site is the future site of the Bell Museum of Natural History
The student farm will serve as an accessible and informative
transition to the 200 acres of additional agricultural research
land, mostly dominated by corn and soybean research.
The University of Minnesota Twin cities campus consists of
two campuses, referred to as the Minneapolis Campus and the
St. Paul Campus. The St. Paul campus is the “farm campus.”
Like its neighboring Minneapolis campus, it is imbedded in
the Twin Cities metropolitan area, with a population of 2.7
million (April 2002 census).
Want to add your farm to our Student
Farm Directory? Follow the format of the farms listed
on their now, and send your information to senior writer
Laura Sayre at email@example.com.