Macalester Today Fall 2011

Urban Farmers

An urge to make a tangible difference in the global food crisis spurred several Mac students and friends to start an urban farm this year called Concrete Beet Farmers. the Concrete part of the name alludes to the inner city nature of the group's land, located on three separate Minneapolis lots.

"Our goals for the first season were to learn about ourselves and our interest in urban agriculture and to run a successful farm," says Emily Hanson ’11.

Success was theirs, judging by the bountiful crops they harvested all season, which were sold through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares and at a Minneapolis farmer’s market. The CSA shares, which held enough food to feed two to three people for a week, says Hanson, included radishes, bok choy, basil, onions, green beans, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, eggplants, and carrots, among other veggies.

Hanson, whose interest in agriculture was first sparked by environmental studies professor Bill Moseley’s first year course, “People and the Environment,” was joined in the enterprise by fellow Macites Emily Engel ’12 (Minneapolis), Alex Liebman ’12 (Northampton, Mass.) and Robin Major ’11 (Putney, Vt.), as well as U of Minnesota and Augsburg students.

The group couldn’t have done it, says Hanson, without a $6,000 grant from Macalester’s Live It Fund, which allowed them to lease one lot and buy the seeds and equipment they needed to get started. Although they couldn’t pay themselves much, they ended the summer with some funds, which they’re using for next year’s enterprise—a new venture called Stone’s Throw Urban Farm.

Not all the Concrete Beet farmers will continue next year, but Hanson most certainly will. “This is totally what I want to do,” she says enthusiastically. “Mac taught me to think about the world in a critical, abstract way, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the problems. Urban agriculture provides an outlet for that, a way to actively work every day to make the food system better.”