Community members help save UMD's Land Lab
A petition was started to save UMD’s Land Lab in the fall semester. The College of Liberal Arts was considering a number of departments in the budget cuts, and closing UMD’s Land Lab was one of the most likely possibilities.
“It was a crazy fall,” student farm manager Cameron Gustafson said. “We were harvesting our crops and we heard the farm might be cut entirely.”
The Land Lab is currently used by students in various classes and is a source for some of the produce in Dining Services. Gustafson and other students came together to create a petition that would collect signatures in support of keeping the farm.
When community members heard about the possible end to the farm, many tried to help. The petition received nearly 2,000 signatures in support.
“When the program you love is threatened, people actively participate to help you,” Gustafson said.
Coordinator Randy Hanson’s job was on the chopping block, which was frightening for students who work at the farm. He wants to make the farm a part of the university since it is not currently tied to any particular department, according to Gustafson.
Hanson is now on a two year contract with the school and is being paid through non-annual funds. This also means that the farm is on a two year contract. After the two years expire, they will be right back where they started.
“Our plan is to continue the unique partnership with the dining services,” Hanson said. “They hire and support our farm manager and staff, while students get to eat all the produce we grow.”
This year, the farm is planting a variety of produce regardless of the time crunch they are facing. The are planting a variety of vegetables like broccoli and carrots, as well as planting fruit like strawberries and watermelon.