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ISSUE 118 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/22/2004

Farm project takes root

By Tiffany Ayres
News Editor


Friday, October 22, 2004

Dayna Burtness 07 and Dan Borek 06 plan to start planting at a new St. Olaf farm in the spring, have started clearing the farm site, and are working on other preparations. Burtness 07, co-president of the Environmental Coalition, approached the Student Senate at the Oct. 7 surplus forum to ask for funding for the new St. Olaf farm project but the Senate has not yet made any decisions about the surplus.

The farm's goal is to help the long term sustainability of St. Olaf as part of the larger "green campus" idea. The farm will use the food waste from the cafeteria as compost to grow more produce for the cafeteria to cook, making a complete sustainability cycle.

The important part is that the farm will contribute to the overall goal of sustainability, Borek said. "Were not completing the loop when we take in outside food, and even though we cant take care of all of the food needs, we can contribute part of it."

Burtness and Borek will manage the farm as a small business with production, supply, profit and eventually wages.

Burtness is also looking into the possibility of obtaining a Finstad Grant. Peter Abrahamson, executive chef of Bon Appétit has already agreed to purchase 100 percent of the farm produce.

"The cafeteria will take whatever we have whenever we have it," Borek said. "We only need to let them know twenty four hours in advance and they will build the menu for the next day around what produce we are able to supply."

The money from Bon Appétit will be put back into the planning and maintenance of the farm, with the future possibility of eventually providing wages for the full time student workers who will take care of daily chores.

Burtness and Borek hope to start a co-curricular organization with the help of the Student Government Association. The organization would also have a substantial volunteer base of students interested in helping who cannot take part daily but who would like to help on organized harvest days.

Burtness and Borek believe that the farm has other benefits besides its main focus of food production.

"Experiencing farming hands-on is the best way for people to learn where their food comes from, because a lot of people have no idea," Borek said. "It also promotes environmental 'mindfulness' and greater appreciation for food, which most people take for granted."

Burtness came up with the idea for the farm over the summer, when she interned on a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm.

"I had never farmed before, and while I was at the CSA organic farm, I found myself thinking about its application to St. Olaf," Burtness said. "It would be great to have a farm on campus to complete the sustainability cycle."

Borek's interest grew out of his family's farming experience and his personal summer farming project.

The new farm project will use a site near the nature center in the fields behind the athletic center.

Burtness and Borek hope to make the new farm a feature on campus in the future, so that visitors hear about the project and want to see it, possibly incorporating it into campus tours. At any rate, they are looking at the farm as a long term project.

"The farm can tie into the curriculum, it can be a volunteer organization, and it can involve the high schools and the community," Burtness said.





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