Tour brings CFANS students face-to-face with current ag operators

On Saturday, October 7, 47 CFANS students participated in a Faces of Agriculture tour as a part of AFEE 1001 and APEC 1001. The students, along with Agricultural Education, Communication and Marketing Assistant Professor Amy Smith and Applied Economics Department Head and Professor Frances Homans, visited four operations that represent diversity among agriculture, food, and natural resources in Minnesota.

The tour began at the University of Minnesota Native American Medicine Gardens, housed on the St. Paul Campus. Francis Bettelyoun, Native Master Gardener and Landscape Designer, oversees the gardens, whose mission is to educate about food sovereignty, indigenous ways of food production, culture and history.

The group then visited Mississippi Mushrooms, a certified organic mushroom farm in Minneapolis, founded by Ian Silver-Ramp, ‘10 B.S., Applied Plant Science. Tour participants then visited the Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River. There, they were able to visit the original 1860s historic farmstead and explore the newly added Farm Lab to examine the differences between agriculture’s historic beginnings and today’s global impact.

This year’s tour concluded with a visit to Krause Holsteins, a dairy farm in Buffalo owned by Charles, ‘91 B.S., Animal Science, and Robyn Krause, ‘91 B.S. Human Relations. Their two children, Andrew, ‘17 B.S., Animal Science, and Morgan (a current Agricultural Communication and Marketing student) remain active on the farm. Morgan helped lead Saturday’s farm tour.

“It was so great to have the current AFEE/APEC 1001 students to my family’s dairy farm. I remember attending the Faces of Ag tour myself two years ago, so I was excited when I had the opportunity to give back and engage current students about my farm this year. I am a fourth generation Golden Gopher and a lot of advancements in our dairy farm is due to the knowledge each generation of my family has gained here at the University. Having the opportunity to learn about the many different facets of the dairy community is beneficial for students studying agriculture now and for their future careers,” Morgan said.

This is the third year of the Faces of Agriculture tour. Smith initially added the experience to her AFEE 1001 class in 2015 as a means to expose students to diverse aspects of agriculture and food production. Many Agricultural Education students have roots in rural Minnesota; as such, they are quite familiar with conventional agricultural production methods but unaware of other production methods. At the same time, CFANS has students who may have never experienced traditional, larger scale, family farming operations. By visiting a variety of operations, students are better equipped to understand differences and engage in productive dialogue about food production practices, ranging from conventional production, to urban and/or organic operations, to culturally-based systems.

Homans said “I’ve known about the Faces of Agriculture tour for a while now, and was excited to get a chance to go this year. You’d think that there would be a big contrast between a brand-new startup mushroom business housed in an old Minneapolis warehouse and a third-generation dairy farm, but both were focused on making their businesses innovative and sustainable. It was also great to see the impact that U of M alums are having as agricultural producers in this state.”

The trip was funded, in part, by a Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC) grant.


Pictured here is Morgan Krause (right) of Krause Holsteins, talking about her family farm’s dairy operations to AFEE 1001 and APEC 1001 students.