Thursday, January 19, 2017
The focus on Thursday for MARL Class IX was touring various agriculture businesses and industries that are located in the metro area. For many of us, it was a great opportunity to explore the diversity within agriculture that exists within the great state of Minnesota.
Our first stop was Baileys Nurseries Inc. where we learned that Minnesota is home to the largest wholesale provider of bare-root trees and shrubs in the entire United States. Inside their many warehouses, an extensive process of washing, storing and inventory control commenced as the nursery prepares for their busy months of March and April. We also visited a separate location where their greenhouse and demonstration gardens are located.
Our second stop was at CHS Inc, the largest farmer-owned cooperative in the United States. CHS Inc. is truly an agribusiness with global connections as they have access to markets all across the world, with offices and grain handling facilities in many countries. Among the many facets of their company, we were welcomed with an introduction to CHS and learned more about their Crop Nutrients and Country Operations sectors.
The third and final stop was the Food Building in northeast Minneapolis, home to three separate business entities called Red Table Meat Co., the Lone Grazer Creamery, and Baker’s Field Flour & Bread. Each company is housed in the Food Building to process and produce their respective products, then marketing those products to the growing local and niche markets around the metro area and entire United States. In addition to the tour, we were able to sample the meat, cheese and bread that were produced there.
While at the Food Building, we also had an opportunity to hear from two individuals about Policy and Programs for Farm to School. Kate Seybold from Minneapolis Public Schools and Erin McKee VanSlooten from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy addressed our group about the growing Farm to School Program in the Twin Cities. They also talked about some of the farmers who grow fruits and vegetables for the Farm to School program, providing more locally grown foods from small farmers.
After the tours were finished, we enjoyed a ‘free evening’ to do as we wished. Some from our class went to a Minnesota Wild game while other groups visited a few local restaurants and ‘watering holes’ in the St. Paul area. Thursday was a great day indeed!
Submitted by Joel Talsma, Class IX