This season is the first we’ve sent a renewal letter (.pdf) to our customers. It’s a big update as we hit the 5-year mark. Check it out!
Here’s what I’ve been up to on the farm in the past month and a half.
In full disclosure, all Lauren and I want to do is get our hands into the dirt in the hoop house and feed the cows delicious pumpkins leftover from last autumn. We’ve been having fun at the farm, especially when last year’s intern Maddy comes to visit and makes work time feel more like play time! However, I can assure you that I’ve also been enjoying my time learning marketing and communication skills as well.
The practical skills that I have been exposed to while interning for Bakers’ Acres have been numerous. They include working my way around a creative brief, managing a web-based content management system, learning to draft a press release, developing much more effective writing skills, and understanding that work can be really fun when you’re excited about what you’re doing.
One of the most valuable things that I’ve learned so far is that sustainable agriculture is really important to our communities. It promotes not only a healthier way of eating, but also a sense of responsibility and intentionality when it becomes time to prepare your meals. After being immersed in this internship experience, I feel as though I’ve been given a small glimpse into what it takes to run a successful CSA business.
In adding to the list of opportunities I’ve been given this semester, I attended various presentations at the Sustainable Farming Association Annual Conference and the Farm-to-Institution Networking Event, I cooked my own recipe with fresh ingredients from the Minnesota Street Market, and I have been receiving a lot of information about the current food sourcing at CSB Culinary Services. I plan to dive deeper into understanding what it will take to get more locally sourced food into my school’s dining centers.
Here’s to the continued preparation of another delicious and organic CSA season at Bakers’ Acres! Only a few short months until boxes are ready . . .
Until next time,
It is hard to believe I have already completed half of my internship here at Bakers’ Acres. There is much I learned that I want you to know about:
Since early February, the majority of my internship has been spent learning the logistics of running a farming business, which allowed me to practice my marketing skills working with content management software, and tailoring my writing to the consumer population using a creative brief. Learning the behind-the-scenes work with Lisa has given me a better understanding of the planning, organization, and resources necessary for running a successful business. I even got to write a press release for the Yoga on the Farm event with my co-worker Laura.
Farm-to Table Events
I went to a panel session at the Sustainable Farming Association annual conference at the College of St. Benedict in February to learn about the elements, goals, and common barriers in establishing a stronger local food system. It was very compelling to listen to farmers and business owners alike, talking about their own experiences trying to propel the farm-to-table movement forward and restore the disconnect between producer and consumer.
I like that a local-focused food system can provide more farmers markets, restaurants that source locally, community and school gardens, and opportunities to buy shares from CSA farms, which also allows you to get to know your local farmer. In due time, this could create a change in the diet that compliments the seasonal availability of foods, and an increase in the public health and stability of the community. I’m all for that!
Another thing that I found surprising was the lack of demand for local/organic food. I sense that we are progressing forward with this nourishing “local” movement, which leads me to hope that we will gain more farmers dedicated to the production of food with a land ethic, rather than only the generation of profits.
I also attended the Renewing the Countryside’s Farm-to-Institution networking event and gained significant insight on the barriers to sourcing locally, such as lack of demand, communication, and aggregation limitations. It was fascinating to hear more about up-and-coming business models called Food Hubs that help institutions meet their demand by communicating with multiple farmers in the area. It was a little odd for me to be one of the only students at this event, but I’m so glad I went and was one who represented an interest for the younger generation! Sustainable food systems are complex, although I am happy to say that I am getting a very good glimpse into their mechanisms.
I hope to attend another gathering like these; the gathering of people with similar values for food, sustainability, and the environment creates a motivating atmosphere that I love!
Back on the Farm
Even though the majority of you reading this post may be a supporter of local farms and Co-ops, I bet you don’t know a whole lot about what happens in the field! With a quick change in clothes after class, us farm girls were ready for whatever Lisa had on the farm’s to-do list for us. We learned how to prepare seedlings and transplant plants in the hoop house. This couldn’t have been more memorable if it weren’t for the teamwork, enthusiasm, fantastic music playlists, and digging-in-the-dirt fun. In a way, gardening is a creative process that links the farmer to consumer. I enjoy the connection I have with agriculture when working in the Hoop House. I have had a blast working with Lisa, Laura, and Maddy in the Hoop House in starting off the season by planting “cool” season vegetables over the past few weeks. Believe it or not, it was so nice to return to campus covered in farm dirt after an evening of planting, watering, and feeding the cows and chickens.
What I find very satisfying is that Lisa is teaching Laura and me many important skills that can only be learned while on the job. Knowing how to work certain communication and business software programs will certainly be beneficial to me in my future job. I am so pleased with the program that Lisa has designed for us; it has the perfect balance of arduous business work and experiential farming learning.
Live. Love. Kale.
My name is Lauren and I am one of the new Food Farming and Marketing interns at Bakers’ Acres this spring! Let me tell you a little bit about myself:
I am currently in my junior year at the College of Saint Benedict, majoring in Dietetics. I love to eat, discover new food, and to learn about how food grows from the earth.
Food Around the World
Just recently, I traveled throughout Europe for five months and got a taste (literally) of the most flavorful food on the entire planet. My taste buds still reminisce of my last dish of carbonara from Rome, all of the delicious crepes from France, and my first taste of real Swiss fondue. The European culture showed me that the best food comes from quality, natural ingredients that are easily accessible from farmers markets in the community. I was living in a foodie dream world! I am so excited and beyond grateful to work with the certified organic produce from Bakers’ Acres and learn where quality food comes from in Central Minnesota.
Eating Seasonally Takes Discipline!
I want to use my internship to promote the development of more simplistic and sustainable food systems built on a “whole food” philosophy. The local food movement here sure is cooking (…pun intended!), so I’m looking forward to showing the local community the joy of not only knowing where your food comes from, but also what it means to eat seasonally and how to cook and make food that tastes delicious.
Longing for Food That Actually Contains Nutrients
I am interested in learning about sustainable food systems and how they work to benefit the public health of local communities. Everyone deserves to enjoy nutrient-dense food produced in the most sustainable way possible. We don’t all need to rely on conventional agriculture, the number one polluter contributing to climate change, and the processed, unhealthy, and inefficient food choices it offers.
Career Exploration through Food
Much of my life’s memories are surrounded by food, which has connected me with other strong passions, like my love for being outside. Any meal cooked over the campfire and enjoyed with family is always a delicious treat. My love of the outdoors and interest in the environment has led me to think strongly about future career goals. With a career working in food systems or nutrition-related field, I hope to shape incentives for future farmers to grow different crops in their rotations other than corn, soy and alfalfa, in order to restore the soil and provide more seasonal fruits and vegetables for the community.
On the Farm
I have been graced with the opportunity to work alongside Lisa Baker as well as my fellow Bennie, Laura. I look forward to the fun challenges of cooking recipes with Laura and working together to gather recipes for our customers’ CSA boxes, digging in the dirt this growing season, and more! Working with Lisa, I hope to gain perspective on her philosophy of growing quality, flavorful food and learn just how her decision to grow organically is supporting a greater effort to create a healthier, more diverse array of calories for our communities.
Food & Mental Health – Food is Medicine
My name is Laura, and I will be interning for Bakers’ Acres this spring. I am a Saint Ben’s sophomore studying psychology and anthropology, and now, thanks to Lisa, I will be learning the ins-and-outs of organic agriculture and how food interacts with communities and peoples’ lives.
I was pulled into a world of thinking about my food choices when my dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and Lyme’s Disease in 2009. I witnessed over the course of seven years just how much his diet played a role in his health. After a period of uncertainty, not knowing what to do next, how to help, or whether my dad’s quality of life was inevitably going to deteriorate, my mom met Doctor Vrchota, a practitioner of integrative and holistic medicine. She switched my dad to a specialized diet (organic foods that are gluten, dairy, and red meat-free) in hopes that it would decrease inflammation in the brain. This, coupled with a year of antibiotics, drastically improved his symptoms: body aches, irritability, brain fog, and the numb, tingling sensation in his limbs. I believe food saved my dad’s life. Food became his medicine.
Having experienced food in this way, I have naturally grown curious (pun intended) about what it could do for my well-being, as well as for the well-being of others. With a background in psychology, aspiring to work in a clinical setting, I see so much potential and value in understanding how food is integrated with the mind and body. This melds with my passion for teaching yoga as well . . .
. . . which brings me to one of the main projects that I’ll be working on this season, Yoga on the Farm! This is an event hosted at Bakers’ Acres on the afternoon of Saturday, April 23rd. All are welcome, and it’s especially encouraged for those who want to stretch out in the fresh air, maybe curl up next to some cabbage, and welcome in this year’s spring. Watch the farm’s social media pages and website for more info.
I will also work in the greenhouse, tend the cows and chickens, and learn marketing and communications skills. I will share my experience testing recipes for our customers’ CSA boxes. The plan is that I’ll cook a few recipes for myself and hopefully live to tell the tale!
I am anxious to see what this opportunity has to teach me and thankful that I get to learn from Lisa and work alongside my fellow intern Lauren. I am excited that I will be getting a hands-on experience, working outdoors, and growing crops with sustainability in mind. I can’t wait to be a part of the Bakers’ Acres team.
Here is the farm’s post-season newsletter with customer satisfaction survey results. We look forward to seeing you in 2016!
Week 1, June 16: The Season Begins!
Maddy again, just wanted to update you on what I have been up to lately:
Throughout the past month, Joe and I have finished up much of the marketing and computer work and moved on to more hands-on work with our increasingly beautiful weather. Although I have been looking forward to working outdoors all semester, the knowledge and experiences I have gained from working with Lisa have been immeasurable. I can say for certain I am no marketing expert yet, but I can definitely work my way around a communication plan, creative brief, website content management software, and the process of producing a welcome guide for CSA customers. Working as a team to create and use these communication and marketing tools this semester has given me the basic knowledge and an understanding of the importance of them to ensure the success of a business.
With just recently completed fruit and vegetable storage and preservation tips for CSA customers, I had the opportunity to do some content management in WordPress by posting them on the website myself. This was a helpful experience because it is not something they teach you in school but is surely part of any job. In addition, I attended two Sustainable Farming Association-sponsored events where I sat in on many discussions related to farm-to-school, greenhouses, and post-harvest handling. The things I learned are not only useful for gaining more information about the business and lives of people involved and passionate about sustainable agriculture, but it has also fostered thoughts of my own as I decide what is important to me when it comes to agriculture. These experiences have given me a slight glimpse into the complexity of the system.
With the warm weather bringing an early spring, Joe and I were able to head out to the farm in our muck boots – or in Joe’s case, Crocs and shorts – to work with Lisa in the hoop house to start seedlings. Playing in the dirt was a ball for me. Joe and I both planted cabbage, peas, lettuce and other yummy things to start the season off. I loved being able to visualize behind the scenes of what goes into getting people their food. The preparation and dedication that farmers have is something I admire and am excited to teach others about.
Sunshine and Rain,
Providing real-life work experience to help students achieve learning objectives is something we do at Bakers’ Acres to give back to our community. By designing internships for Environmental Studies students from the College of St. Benedict / St. John’s University, to the University of Minnesota, we put a lot of effort into shaping projects that give students a chance to apply what they’ve learned in class to farm and business work.
This semester, we are coaching two students through marketing and communications roles. Our Communications Manager will learn how to create and execute internal and external communications plans, and our Marketing Communications Specialist will learn how to create and execute Creative Briefs and serve as an account manager, all with local food production as their subject matter.
My name is Joe, and I am the Marketing Communications Specialist at Bakers’ Acres this semester. I am a senior at St. John’s University, majoring in Environmental Studies.
Through this internship, I look forward to learning more about where food comes from and how it gets to the consumer. As a college student, fresh food is not something you see everyday, let alone eat. Having the chance to work with this farm’s food and the people who eat it will be an amazing experience.
I am super excited to create new recipes using the ingredients of the CSA boxes. It’s going to be like an episode of Chopped each week! (One of my many guilty pleasures.) Cooking is a huge part of my life, creating a beautiful meal out of raw ingredients is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. Being able to do that while using farm fresh ingredients, and sharing it with other CSA members will be extremely fulfilling, not to mention fun! I am also excited to see the business side of the food industry. Having the opportunity to build relationships with members of the industry, and to gain serious business knowledge will be extremely interesting. Besides that, I am looking forward to building strong relationships with customers of Bakers’ Acres through helpful communications, and forming a camaraderie between the farm and consumers.
Over the holidays, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. I tried out a lot of different kinds of recipes, but I think my favorite had to be roasted fennel. I had never tried fennel before, but I can definitely say that it is my new favorite vegetable. I grabbed my trustworthy cast iron skillet, and filled it full of thick cut fennel bulbs, topped with fresh ground pepper, coarse sea salt, good quality parmesan cheese, and drizzled with olive oil. I threw that in the oven for about 45 minutes and I had the best dang vegetable I have ever had.
In the future, I would love to own a food truck that works in cooperation with a stationary restaurant. I think food is something that is often overlooked in our society, and I want to make an eating atmosphere where the focus is put back on the food. I want people to be able to easily read the list of ingredients their meals contain, and know where they come from. I am excited to build skills with Bakers’ Acres that will help me in achieving my dream of owning a food truck and restaurant where local, high quality food is the focus.
Through this opportunity with Bakers’ Acres, I will learn about the Minnesota Food Charter and the vision its grassroots developers propose for Minnesota’s food environment. Their philosophy of making sure that Minnesotans have access to healthy, safe, and affordable food is fantastic, and I am eager to help join in this mission. I think the Minnesota Food Charter has ideas that can be applied to my future career aspirations, especially in the restaurant business.