As harvest season in Minnesota winds down and many Americans begin looking forward to Thanksgiving, St. Olaf College students are enjoying the last of a bountiful supply — more than two tons — of Hill-grown produce.
This season, student farmers with St. Olaf Garden Research and Organic Works (STOGROW) harvested 4,388 pounds of watermelon, squash, cilantro, peppers, basil, cabbage, cantaloupe, tomatoes, turnips, Brussels sprouts, beans, kohlrabi, and cucumbers. All of that was sold to Bon Appetit, the college’s food service provider, and served on campus in Stav Hall.
Founded in 2005, STOGROW is an acre of student-run farmland situated in St. Olaf’s Natural Lands. Through STOGROW, students aim to provide local produce to the campus cafeteria, as well as get the student body and surrounding community involved in the importance of healthy and sustainable eating and living.
Each year, STOGROW’s student leaders learn about sustainable farming through this hands-on experience. And after this year, student farmers will start the season with additional insight thanks to a manual written by this year’s leaders.
In collaboration with Curator of Natural Lands and Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Kathleen Shea, student farmers Rebecca DeBoer ’19 and Athena Stifter ’19 spent hours in the field this summer learning through trial and error the best farming practices, testing out different techniques and equipment, and conversing with local farmers to complete a STOGROW guide for future student volunteers. They compiled everything they learned into a written manual.