The Clarion

Madison College gets lease on new farm

Jessica Deegan, News Editor

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After receiving an Innovation Grant, Madison College has been given the great opportunity to re-envision its agriculture model by leasing a teaching farm in Fall River.

This farm is in partnership with Fountain Prairie Farms and will prepare students for farm management and ownership, and also provide access to production land, agricultural expertise, and mentorship. Madison College will have access to 165 acres of the farm, including all barns, outbuildings, and enclosures.

The farm will potentially allow student interns to work multi-day and overnight experiences on the farm. For students who are in agriculture programs, this involvement may fulfill the work experience requirements needed to complete their program. Whether you want to work as a farm hand, or own your own, this hands-on experience will assist you for years to come.

“A lot of people are coming from a non-farming background and we will be there as a tool for them to get started and bring back a lot of opportunity for family farmers to be successful in their rural community. When you look at all of the skills that it takes to be a small farmer, those skills are taught throughout our college, all across the board. With this farm, we provide a classroom for all areas of farming. It will be like an incubator for people to gain experience before owning their own farm,” said Agriculture Instructor, Randy Zogbaum.

Zogbaum is fairly new to Madison College, but holds great responsibility within the school. In addition to leading the farm full-time, Zogbaum has made significant adjustments to the curriculum and delivery methods (online and hybrid formats) of the former Farm Business Production Management program to create a new Agriculture Systems Management program.

These adjustments and grant allowed a new Agribusiness specialization to be created, which gave Madison College a tool to address the number of students that are resorting to other colleges offering Ag Business degree programs. By pairing the new specialization and learning farm, Madison College’s Ag program will confidently bring in more students and give them a better learning experience.

According to the farm proposal, the farm is seen “as a classroom and hands-on laboratory to provide training in both traditional class format as well as hands-on experience in all aspects of an operating food production farm.”

Currently, the farm highlights beef production with managed grazing, allowing the Culinary and Farm to Table programs to pair nicely with what the learning farm and its animals have to offer. Although the farm is currently set up for beef cows, they are able to move things around in order to house other meat-producing animals.

Zogbaum is confident that once word gets around about the learning farm, additional programs within Madison College will want to bring their students out for various teaching opportunities.

Not only will this farm assist programs throughout Madison College, but also students who want to learn aside from their desired program. Individuals who aren’t in the agriculture program, but would like to learn more about some of the aspects of farming, are open to attend workshops on the farm. Zogbaum is hoping the workshops will be available as soon as summer of 2018. Zogbaum is also striving for an online appearance of the farm, which could potentially lead to a worldwide audience.

Zogbaum is hopeful and confident in the learning farm, saying, “I would like students to know that with this farm, you are going to be a part of a pretty amazing agricultural education program. It would be great to get more entrepreneur minds on the ground, which will only make our school and community that much stronger.”

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Madison College gets lease on new farm