St. Olaf Garden Research and Organic Works

Seasons Greetings

A new season is at hand here at the STOGROW Farm- that wonderful time of year when we have the opportunity to turn a barren landscape into a veritable verdant oasis of eco-friendly produce to share with our peers and anyone else who swings through Stav Hall during the summer/early fall months. It stands to be the most bountiful year to date for the STOGROWers, with three terrific new additions to the workforce and another expansion to the garden courtesy of a grain bin removal.
We'd love to see or hear from anyone interested in stopping down for a chat or, even better, those dedicated individuals who would like to lend a helping hand to our feel good operation. The rewards are always much greater than the work that goes into it!
Stay tuned for more updates as the season progresses~ Happy Trails!- Farmer Moe


A big thank you goes out to Tony Skalski for donating 8 wonderful chickens!


Hello, my name is Rob Smith and I'm one of the new farmers interning at STOGROW. I will be a sophmore next fall. I'm majoring in Mathematics and have an interest in Enviromental Studies.

In addition to learning how the farm operates, this year I will be raising chickens. Last week Day and I built a mobile chicken coop, and just yesterday I was finally able to pick up our six week old chicks. We currently have eight chickens with plans to pick up about nine more later in the summer. I thought chickens would help add to the farm atmosphere at STOGROW. But on a more practical note, chickens are known to have a positive impact on soil quality because their manure is rich in nitgrogen and phosphates. Chickens are also helpful because they churn up the dirt as they hunt for pests on the ground.

Anyone interested in checking out the farm, the chickens, or the baby lambs (we're expecting to pick up a few in late June) is welcome to stop by the farm anytime. We can always be found out at the farm early in the morning, and depending on the day, in the afternoons as well.

Learning from scratch!

As a new addition to the STOWGROW team, I feel there's little I could teach of actual educational value, so instead I’ll delve a little into the exciting process of learning. Learning, specifically, how to be taught.
I think we often take for granted the things that we’re familiar with; we find surprising the degree of difficulty others undergo to gain that same knowledge. With a musician, for instance, the theory and composition of music is (or should be) second nature. Certainly, there are years spent practicing and perfecting those skills, but as a musician myself, I know how strange it feels knowing there are people around me—even close friends—who haven’t a clue how to read sheet music. Strange!
I’m guessing that with experienced farmers, it’s much the same thing. Common sense is relative to the situation, and there’s a certain sort of common sense unique to farming (demonstrated by Day and Moe) that may prove challenging to grasp. The three of us interns, all new to STOWGROW, are finding that hands-on, proactive learning is the best way to learn what we need to know. Also, I find that proactive interrogation (asking stupid questions) is similarly important.
So far, it’s been a grand time seeing what five people can do with less than an acre of land! Tilling, planting, watering, and hacking weeds is such a welcome change from the Great Black Hole of homework. The physical result of gardening of farming is so much more satisfying than the intangibleness of grades.
Oh, and not to mention: our chickens are pretty sweet.
Within half a week the garden has truly come alive. On Monday we began by planting some corn, beans, and squash using the three sisters method. We think we may see the beginnings of something green here, but it could just be weeds (we're choosing to be optimistic). We also got a greens mix planted in the back of the garden where it can find some protection from the already very hot sun. Tuesday we got a lettuce mix in the ground and watered thoroughly. Then we finished the day by cutting some of the surrounding grass and pruning the raspberry bushes. Wednesday was a big day for our little farm. A good chunk of the transplants are now planted, the herb mound has been groomed, and we got a brand new tiller! It required a full eight hour work day but the results were well worth the time. Thankfully, it rained Wednesday night, helping all our newly planted vegetables to take root. However, this means the ground is too wet for planting so we are keeping occupied with various jobs. After playing with the newly arrived chickens and righting our wind-blown green house, we may have to call it a day and wait for the ground to dry. After three days of hard work, it is nice that mother nature is giving us a little break.

And we're off!! The 2007 Season

Hello and welcome to the first post of the 2007 STOGROW Farm season!! This year returning farmers Moe and Day welcome new STOGROWers (from left to right) Rob (a Northfield townie!), Olivia from Washington, and Kristin from Iowa. Today, Thursday, is our fourth full day of work and we've already got all of our peppers, eggplant, and basil planted as well as some of our tomatoes.

Check back often for updates, pictures, and stories from all five STOGROWers.