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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
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Student Organic Farm provides produce and works on improving the UMN farmers market

Students work to bring more attention to the farmers market amidst the sale of organic produce.
Image by Gabrielle Erenstein
Trystan Schultz harvesting brussel sprouts on the Cornercopia Organic Student Farm on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. She is volunteering at the farm through a class that she is taking.

Volunteers of the University of Minnesota Student Organic Farm (SOF) have learned how to grow and provide organic produce at the University’s weekly farmers market every Wednesday at the Getaway Plaza outside of the McNamara Alumni Center since July 12. 

The farmers market currently has a 25% off student discount so students can afford produce from several vendors. The SOF booth includes organically-grown produce from the student organization’s one-acre farm in St. Paul which includes anything from carrots, peppers and onions to fruit and flowers.

SOF began in 2004 as a chance for students to practice what they learned in classes. SOF’s mission is to provide observational learning and get food into the hands of people on campus who do not have access, said farm manager Tori Dahl. 

With 30 students involved with SOF this fall, students volunteer to take turns running their booth at the farmers market. 

“Everyone is happy and excited to be here,” said Maria Krausmann, an SOF student who volunteered at the farmers market for the first time on Wednesday. “It’s fun to talk to people about what they want to use the vegetables and produce for.” 

Krausmann harvested and washed fruits and vegetables for the market. She said shopping at the market is more than just shopping, it’s a whole experience. 

Molly Seligman, a fourth-year and student intern, has worked with SOF since the summer. Apart from hand plowing fields on her first day, Seligman worked on seeding, irrigation, harvesting and selling the produce. 

“I felt like I was making a difference in the community,” Seligman said. 

Seligman knows there are ways the farmers market can improve after working with SOF. One of the ideas they have been working on is a “pay what you can” stand where a customer can buy produce based on how much they can pay. Seligman said SOF needs funding and grants to begin it.

An idea SOF is “flirting with” is washing, cutting and freezing fruit to gauge interest in those products, according to Seligman. Having more accessible options for produce and spreading the word about the farmers market is something SOF is working toward. 

As the farm manager, Dahl said publicizing the market has been a challenge. During the pandemic, the farm was shut down and Dahl said it was stressful to start again. She explained half of the student body started or was on campus while the farm was shut down. 

“Of course they don’t know about us,” Dahl said. “We didn’t exist for them.” 

Dahl encourages any student to participate if they wish, even if their major is not related. She said there are students in apparel design, plant science, nutrition, biology and other environment-related majors. 

“We’re hoping to keep growing it,” Dahl said. “We can always use volunteers.”

The farmers market is set to end Sept. 27.

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