by Slow Food USA Intern Melissa Rosenberg

Minnesota is known for large agribusiness and currently, large scale agriculture is the state’s biggest industry.  In Northfield Minnesota, students at St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges, are working to bring healthy foods produced sustainably and justly to the land of 10,000 lakes.  In an effort to strengthen the local food system, protect farmers and preserve farmland, students at both schools, are initiating changes to their respective food services.

Students at St. Olaf have created an organic garden, named STOWGROW.  The Saint Olaf Garden Research and Organic Works (STOGROW) farm project is a student-run community initiative, which aims to practice sustainable farming methods; to provide fresh, local vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers to the community; to foster agricultural awareness; and to provide education about sustainable food production.

All of the produce from the garden is used by the colleges food service provider, Bon Appetit Management Company, for use in the St. Olaf cafeteria, then left over food waste is composted in our school’s industrial composter and used to feed the soil in the STOGROW garden.

On the Carleton Student Farm, almost all the vegetables grown this year are heirloom varieties from Seed Saver Exchange. This past summer the garden sold produce to the dining halls, and aims to sell more in the coming years.

At Carleton, students petitioned the college to choose a food provider dedicated to using fairly traded, ecologically sound ingredients. Bon Appetit was selected and the chefs are now forging alliances with young Northfield farmers.

Cheers to these students who are making change happen.