The splendor (and reality) of farming


It is the middle of February in Minnesota. There is snow on the ground but the temperature is currently in the thirties. I admire those true Minnesotans that are rockin’ their shorts because this weather is damn near tropical, especially after the harsh below zero temperatures where you feel like you have to wear everything you own just to stay warm on your way to class. In the midst of winter, whether it is a sultry thirty degrees or cruel sub-zero temperatures, my mind is constantly wandering to summer and the splendor of farming. 

Last summer I was fortunate enough to land an internship through HECUA at Dream of Wild Health (affectionately abbreviated as DWH). DWH is a Native American based non-profit 10 acre sustainable farm in Hugo, MN. DWH has a really great story and inherited indigenous seeds from a Potawatomi elder before she passed away. Legend has it that Professor Markhart helped the farm with the seeds. I can imagine him taking the seeds to the greenhouse and conducting experiments to get them to germinate. This may be a fictionalized portrayal, like a Hollywood movie, so you should probably ask him for the true story.

I had taken Hort 2031 with Professor Markhart in Fall 2009 and the biggest message I took from that class was: organic farming = weeding. It still didn’t prepare me for my first day at DWH. My first task was to weed the raised beds to prepare for planting. Being a new intern, I was super optimistic about my abilities and I was extremely determined. After about three hours of incessant battle with the weeds, I finally took a break. The farm managers, Emily and Meagan, were inside eating lunch. Emily told me that I had crazy endurance and that she took a lot of breaks. I felt slightly embarrassed, being a new intern you never know what to expect and you impress your supervisors. I still only took one other break after that. I was determined to finish weeding the bed, even if it took me all day (which it did). I had never had the itch to use Round-Up as badly as I did my first day. I take organic farming = weeding a little more seriously. After my summer at DWH, I think of myself as a Master Weeder and can knock out more than one raised bed in a day (thank goodness).

I have been fortunate to have had one class last fall and one class this spring with farm manager Meagan. I have told her how I am itching to get back in the fields. I am pleased that she will let me come with her on weekends once the growing season gets going. Meagan told me a few weeks ago that DWH is going to get bees. It was bittersweet news because I thought that I might not be around to work with them. Unfortunately, I have to find a big girl job once I graduate in May. However, Meagan informed me that the bees are going start in the spring. I am pumped that I can get a chance to buzz with some bees. Part of me hopes that they talk like Jerry Seinfeld.

Even though I want to put off growing up and getting that big girl job, it is time that I move on from my undergraduate career. Despite having to deal with the real world, it is comforting to know that my life isn’t over as a farmer.

Carmen Busser

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