Student farmers harvest freshness and flavor for Minnesota BAMCO cafés

by Dayna Burtness, Midwest Fellow

Every time I visit a student-run farm during my travels as a Foundation Fellow, I'm always inspired by the hard-working student farmers and BAMCO chefs that support them by buying the students' ultra-local produce.  I visited two farms last week in Northfield, MN that were no exception: STOGROW Farm at St. Olaf College and the Carleton Student Farm at Carleton College.


My first stop of the beautiful, HOT Minnesota day was to visit the STOGROW farmers on the outskirts of the St. Olaf campus. I love visiting all student farms, but I have a special place in my heart for STOGROW since I helped co-found it back in 2005.  Two of the four student farmers, Joey and Elizabeth, were rushing to finish harvesting heirloom tomatoes, summer squash, and eggplant before the Bon Appétit truck stopped by to bring the goodies back up to campus. I wandered around, amazed by how much food can be grown on less than an acre, not to mention the amount of creativity it takes for a chef to utilize all of it! And utilize it they do–Bon Appétit chefs at St. Olaf buy 100% of STOGROW's harvest. Check out some shots of the farm below:    

Carleton Student Farm

After lunch I headed across the Cannon River to meet the student farmers at their Friday mini-market outside the Carleton campus center.  Farmers Dia and Alex had been hard at work that morning harvesting cucumbers, basil, tomatoes, summer squash and even purple beans!  The Carleton Student Farm has a long history, but the current garden has been going strong since 2008. Alex and Dia estimated that the farm's two fields totalled about two acres. One field is filled with many varieties of winter squash, a great crop for student farms since it will be ready to harvest once the majority of students return to campus in the fall. The generous farmers sent me home with a bag overflowing with produce.  No wonder the Bon Appétit chefs at Carleton buy as much as they can–every single bite of that night's summer veggie stirfry was delicious! 

Inspired to get growing?

Student farms create amazing opportunities to educate eaters and inspire future farmers, which is exactly what Bon Appétit is all about!  If you want to start a student-run farm on your campus or take an existing garden to the next level, check out the BAMCO Student Garden Guide for ideas, resources, and inspiration.