Little Falls to Northfield to Buffalo

Below zero with the whipping wind on the first day of spring or thereabouts, we headed out to Little Falls High School, where we were greeted by Doug Ploof, the AgEd instructor there.  The 20 students were about to start dissecting fetal pigs, since we were late due to a flat tire, and they promptly removed the plastic gloves and walked into the cozy classroom. 

We did something different. Mr. Ploof had all the students watch the movie before, and write out answers to questions. We then had a conversation for the duration of the hour-long class period. 
It was wonderful to get to know the students a bit better, we talked about the kind of farms that students have, and there is a wide variety. There's dairy, turkeys, chickens, steers, and row-crops, too. We're a hunter-gatherer culture here, we all know how to hunt, how to break down a deer, how to grow and harvest food for family and community, Mr. Ploof said. Mentioned that these skills are in high-demand in the growing local food movement, that a couple hours on the interstate, in Minnesota, there are a lot of people who want local food, and want to learn how to grow food, raise animals, and slaughter, too. 
One young woman, probably 16 or 17, is on a dairy farm. With dairy, you milk twice a day, every day. Her family milks at 4:30am, and 4:30pm  each day. It's usually between 4-6, am & pm, in 12 hour increments. She mentioned that she had never been on vacation. 
The conversation ended on a positive note, Mr. Ploof mentioning that some local nuns had donated a couple acres for the FFA chapter to grow produce in. Students will be bussed out, and work in the field, for class credit. There's much to be learned in hard, physical labor. 
We drove South to Northfield, where Randy Clay treated us to an early dinner at the cafeteria. 
It was full mayhem, reminiscent of Grand Central in NYC, as hundreds and hundreds of students whizzed and scurried around the cafeteria snagging food where wanted. The spirit of spring break was in the air, with the official start being two days away. 
75 people came together, shared some food, film and conversation. There was a wide array of viewpoints, conventional farmers, students who are vegan and vegetarian- we were hosted by SAVVY, a vegan/vegetarian group on campus run by Taylor and Ellie. When all was said and done, it was a good conversation, hands were shook, and each person may have left with a little bit of new knowledge.
We got in the car, which smelled of noxious tire cleaner, and started driving East. We made it to Portage, IN, east of Chicago, before collapsing in an anonymous motel, the parking lot filled with trucks at 5am Central. 
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