U.S. History students experience farm life

Theresa Lau

This year’s junior U.S. history classes are taking a hands on approach to learning with their trips to the Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River. This brand new program takes students back in time to Minnesota life during the Civil War era. The students will be farming, fixing fences, and many other activities to prepare them to work on BSM’s new farm.

This project was started when Ms. Lenhart-Murphy gave an idea to start a farm or garden project somewhere on the BSM campus. Because she had done a project similar to this earlier in her career, U.S. History teacher Ms. Kern loved the idea.

The two began to look at many potential farms they could have students help out at. “[We] settled on Oliver Kelley because they were looking to expand their gardens and we could help them with that. We met with one of their directors who outlined what their farm expansion plans were (creating a garden that represented the shift in farming here in Minnesota from subsistence farming, in the earliest pioneer days, to commercial farming in the post civil war days) and loosely drew up how BSM could fit into that plan,” said Ms. Kern.

Along with the other U.S. History teachers, Ms. Kern decided on juniors because they were in the midst of learning about the Civil War in their history classes.

The project involves small groups going out to the farm at different times to work on projects. This year’s classes will plant crops at BSM’s farm in the spring for next year’s juniors to harvest in the fall.

Students traveled to the farm on November 24th to get an idea of what they will be working on. They took a tour consisting of different stations where the students were taught about the farm and life on it. “It felt like walking into a different time. Everyone was dressed in 19th century clothing. They taught us a lot of stuff about Minnesota back then that I would have never known,” said Amanda Mondale.

The teachers are unsure at this time what the future holds for this project. “That’s a little up-in-the-air.  We are figuring things out as we move along,” said Ms. Kern. “We hope to do some planning for our own version here on campus, maybe some research on crops and soil or some simple building of raised planter beds or hot beds, so that when spring comes around, we’re ready to go outside and build a garden.”