Highlighting Faces of Agriculture in Minnesota

Faces of AgStudents in AFEE 1001: Introduction to Agricultural Education, Communication & Marketing were provided the opportunity this year to attend “The Faces of Agriculture” Tour with Dr. Amy Smith. This experience encourages students to foster a respect and develop an appreciation for diverse approaches to agriculture. The tour was held on October 15th and included stops at Urban Organics, Lawrence Herefords, Hansen’s Tree Farm, and Wozupi Tribal Gardens.

The students completed a written assignment after the tour, where they were asked about their experiences. One student highlighted how the visit to Urban Organics taught him the most of any of the tour stops and caused him to realize the importance of accepting different approaches to food production. He stated, “Even though I learned the most from Urban Organics, this part of the field trip challenged both my beliefs and thinking about agriculture... There is also a possibility that the reason why organic farming goes against my thinking about agriculture is because I’m simply not open to it yet. As I mentioned before, there was basically only one way of farming where I grew up, and that wasn’t organic farming. This experience has made me more open to organic farming, and just as we covered in class, I should think of these styles of farming to be different rather than right or wrong.”

Regarding Lawrence Herefords, one student stated, “The Hereford farm was the most similar to my previous perspective of agriculture. When we first pulled up to the farm, it reminded me of my own farm at home. I liked that it was a family farm, and that Wyatt, at only age 16, wants to get the herd back up to 100. Farming really is a family effort, and they really showed that. Although it was a “classic” farm, I still learned a lot about AI breeding and Herefords in general. I knew a little about AI breeding, but what Wyatt knew was incredible.” Another student offered a different view: For the majority of the class, this was the stop of the day that was the most familiar setting. For me, this was still new because I do not come from an agriculture background. This was the most interesting stop in my opinion because it pertained the most to my interests in agriculture. As an Animal Science Dairy and Beef Production major as well, I felt this was the most relevant for my future career aspirations.”

Hansen’s Tree Farm provided a new perspective for students on the different avenues of farming: “Little did I know all the history associated with this farm.  Also, I never realized “harvest” could happen in the winter.  Here I am use to getting all our crops out before the first snowfall in order for them to be profitable. Whereas here, the product is more profitable after the first snowfall.” Another offered the following referring to tour stops at Urban Organics and the tree farm: “I also gained a new perspective at the Christmas tree farm in Ramsey. That is also a farm, although not the classic farm that one would think of. Just because they are different doesn’t mean that they aren’t involved in agriculture. They produce products that are vital to the industry. I enjoyed gaining a new perspective at both places.”

The last stop at Wozupi Tribal Gardens created a sense of home for one student, who wrote, “This farm reminded me a lot of a farm back at home where we would take a field trip to during school.  When Rebecca was talking about how they are organic, I was afraid she would push us all to go organic. This was not the case.  She also did not go into the ideals and traditions of the farm as I thought she would have. Rather, she talked about the future of the farm and what they want to do in the future which I thought was really neat. This place was my favorite, not just because we got free food while here, but because all my expectations were proved wrong.”

In general, the tour was filled with outstanding learning and many opportunities for students to diversify their knowledge of agriculture. I grew up surrounded by agriculture in my small town; however, my definition of agriculture was very limited. I knew that crops like corn and soybeans were a part of agriculture, and I knew that animals such as cows or pigs were a part of agriculture, but it was not until I began to explore more of the world outside of my hometown that I realized just how diverse agriculture is.