Co-owners of Common Harvest Farm
2019-2020 Crystal Globe Recipients
Since 2014, Dan Guenthner and Margaret Pennings have literally hosted hundreds of Macalester geography students on their CSA vegetable farm near Somerset, Wisconsin. This fruitful collaboration began in 2013 after Dan and Margaret reached out to Macalester to offer up their farm as a place where students could come to better understand rural geography, sustainable agriculture, landscape history and climate change. They have guest lectured in our classes, driven around the country-side in buses narrating the farmscape, meticulously explained the philosophies implicit in community supported agriculture (CSA), discussed and demonstrated tillage practices, and repeatedly served up delicious meals cooked in their outdoor, brick oven. Then, following visits to their farm, they have patiently answered hundreds of student email queries and come to student presentations at the end of the semester. Their enthusiasm for sustainable agriculture and enormous generosity vis à vis our students is nothing but impressive. In addressing research questions developed collaboratively, student work on their farm and in surrounding areas has led to series of civic engagement style reports that have illuminated the challenges facing farmers in the upper Midwest and pushed students to learn about food production and related social dynamics.
While Dan was not trained as a geographer, we have been struck over the years by how he thinks and acts like one. When he gives a tour of the rural area around their farm, his Sauerian-like reading of the landscape reminds us of no other than our own David Lanegran. Margaret, perhaps drawing on her previous career as a school teacher, has excelled at explaining the intricacies of the greenhouse, the principles of the CSA model, and how you pack a small truck with enough vegetables to feed 220 families for a week. Their approach to cultivating the land and the minds of our students is entirely consistent with the ‘Land Ethic’ of the great Aldo Leopold. As Leopold wrote: “All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals, or collectively the land.”
We celebrate Dan and Margaret’s work on the land and their support of our students. They are both truly deserving of the Crystal Globe award!