A Day in the Life: A HECUA Story

A day in the life of a Cornercopia student intern.

Farm work can be crazy, enjoyable, and overwhelming all at the same time. I thought it would be fun to capture those emotions by trying to fit everything I did at the farm during fall semester into one day. This is what it would look like, all the way from 8 in the morning to 5 in the evening:

Upon my arrival at Cornercopia Student Organic Farm, I take a moment to enjoy the warm autumn morning. Courtney is already working out in the crop beds, so I run over to talk to her about what the day holds. Apparently, today is going to be awfully busy. We start by driving over to the raspberry patch, picking all three rows and dodging the thorny branches as we work. Once we’re done, we head back to the farm to feed, water and move the chickens in their coops. Then it’s on to harvesting all 20 crops designated for both farmers’ markets – which start at 9 AM and end at 5 PM. After running frantically through the fields to gather up all the crops, we sprint over to the greenhouse building to process the harvest. Tomatoes, kohlrabi, kale, potatoes, raspberries, spinach, broccoli, ground cherries, cabbage, garlic, melons, peppers, and beets all pile up on the counters where we weigh and package the crops. Finishing in record time, we load up the vegetables into one of the smallest farm vehicles I’ve ever seen – a Toyota Prius – and jet off to the farmer’s market on the Minneapolis campus. A few people stay behind to set up and run one of the best, and only certified-organic, farm stands at the market. I and a few others speed back to the farm to wrangle up the chickens; in addition to everything else, today is chicken slaughtering day of course! We bring them to the basement of the Andrew Boss Lab of Meat Sciences building and take our positions on the ‘disassembly’ line. Carcass after carcass, we slaughter 190 chickens. With zero time to mourn, we race back to the farm to eat a potluck lunch and make a plan to take down the farm for the fast approaching winter. Barely finishing our last bites, we spread out in the fields and pull up landscape fabric, uproot the tomato trellising, yank out crops killed by the frost that occurred during lunch, and roll up the watering hoses. With all the new crop waste material, we build up six new compost piles to provide us with compost next year. Now mid-way into the afternoon, it’s already time to hustle back to the farmer’s market on Minneapolis campus and bring all the left over crops to the farmer’s market on Saint Paul campus. We pack up the crops, load them into the ever-so-small Prius, drive over to the Saint Paul campus, and unload. Splitting up once again, I go back to the greenhouse building to take seed inventory. Almost a thousand weighed and recorded seed packets later, I get to work creating an analysis of the crop sales at each farmer’s market. Each and every crop sold is entered into a spreadsheet and the sales analyzed just before it’s time to drive back to the Saint Paul farmer’s market to pack up. We get back to the farm, take a good look at the sleeping fields, and proceed to go home and sleep ourselves.

Claire Baglien is a sophomore with an undeclared major here at the University of Minnesota who did a HECUA (Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs) Internship fall semester as part of HECUA’s Environmental Sustainability Semester long program. Claire was on the farm 3 days a week from September through early December. For more about HECUA’s Environmental Sustainability Program check out this link: http://hecua.org/es_mn

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