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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Students create farm education programming

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-085ad54f-0cf2-af31-08ca-dcae371b36c1">Through a grant received by their alumni mentor, Sarah Goldman ’17 and Robert Harris ’17 founded the Heart of the Heartland, an organization dedicated to inspiring the next generation of leaders in agriculture. With their program, they have started a new summer farming education program titled the “Young Farmer Summer Seminar.” This five-week summer program is open to five to seven college students, ideally from Carleton and St. Olaf, though the program is interested in expanding the opportunity to other schools such as the University of Minnesota and Macalester.

“The program is free for students so that it is equally accessible to everyone who is interested,” Goldman said. “We raised money for the program through an indiegogo generosity page, as well as through a generous donation from an alum.”

Students selected for the program will rotate between farms in Rice County and listen to lectures from experts in the field. The structure of each week is broken down into three days of physical labor and two days of mixed lectures. These lectures are based on planned weekly themes, which include irrigation and water, soils and pesticides, business of farming/machinery/farm management, general food systems, and either technology/seed saving/ or farmers action and retentions.

“A lot of time when you’re working on a farm, you’re not necessarily learning about the process and why you’re doing what you’re doing,” explained Goldman ’17.

The program plans to educate students not only on the science  of farming, such as soil science, but also the important business and political aspects of farming. As Goldman ’17 explained, “there are specific policies that shape the landscape,” compounded by factors such as food sourcing, climate change, conservation, and sustainability. In addition, farms have to respond to the growing demand for organic produce. There are at least 14 organic farms in Northfield.

Goldman has been farming since she was 14, helping out in over 10 farms across North America, including farms in Northfield, and participating in World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). This past year, Goldman, along with Molly Ross ’17 worked on the Carleton farm as farm interns. Farm interns are hired in the winter and are then expected to plan for the season, buy seeds, and later cultivate the farm and sell the produce to the dining hall. Goldman hopes to continue her work merging agriculture and education in the future. Co-director Robert Harris ’17 could not be reached for comment, but information on the Heart of the Heartland reflects his interest in the intersection of technology and landscapes and how Harris hopes to learn more about how agriculture shapes the physical, political, economic and cultural landscape.

Maya Margolis ’19, Jenni Rogan ’19 and Natalie Slinger ’19 joined the Heart of the Heartland team and helped in the development of the new farming program. Margolis is interested in the intersection of farming and food access.

“I’m excited because agriculture and food is such an important part of all aspects of society,” said Margolis. “There’s so many students at Carleton and nearby schools who are really excited about farming and food justice, and it’s really great that they’ll get an opportunity to learn about all elements of farming and agriculture.”

The Young Farmer Summer Seminar is set to run this summer, with applications open online at

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