When the Ag Center was started in 1968, it was known as the “Central Minnesota Demonstration Research and Irrigation Farm” (CMDRIF). Throughout the years, the Ag Center has had various names, but the goal to determine agricultural best practices, utilize irrigation techniques and preserve water quality in the coarse sandy soils of the region has been the main focus of “The Farm”.

In 1967 the topic of irrigation was a new and popular concept, but the low farm income caused local farmers to remain skeptical of the new irrigation systems. This caused two high school agriculture teachers, Bill Guelker and Don Baustian to approach the superintendent of Schools, Dr. Duane Lund with an idea. At this time, the superintendent and school board managed both the Staples Schools and the Area Vocational School. The two agricultural teachers took Dr. Lund on a tour of irrigation sites in the Elk River area. Throughout this tour, light, sandy soils were viewed as an asset when paired with irrigation. The two agricultural teachers idea to buy the farm to begin research in the sand plains of Minnesota began to form with Dr. Lund’s increased interest.

History was made when the Staples Public Schools purchased a 320 acre farm in march 1968. It was the first and continues to be the only operation of this kind that is owned by a local school district and operated by a local college. The use of irrigation in the region because farms could go just a few miles to “The Farm” to see irrigation systems in operation and hear results of research done on irrigated crops. The University of Minnesota research staff also heard about “The Farm” and decided to study cropping practices that would help area farmers. New crops never considered before, were demonstrated and found a home in the area. Farming was on its way to a more prosperous place in the region because of “The Farm”. More partnerships such as the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Central Minnesota Irrigators Council (CMIC) were formed. These partnerships continued to build and soon there was MDA staff on site.

A vineyard was planted as well as an apple orchard and other fruits including raspberries, blueberries and cherries. Many questions arose as to what plants were hardy to zone 3 of which “The Farm” was located. That was the start of the Living Legacy Gardens. This was the brain child of Shirley Judd. With the help of community organizations and volunteers, the Gardens have flourished and now includes a children’s garden, shade garden and a herb garden.

The Farm continues to focus on research and demonstration that is of interest to local farmers and to reach students and ag professionals through tours and events. To read a more detailed narrative of “The Farm” contact us to get a copy of the book written by Del Lecy entitled “The Farm”.

CLC Ag & Energy Center’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2018

50th Anniversary Slide Show of Pictures

50th Anniversary Power Point

The Central Lakes College Ag & Energy Center official logo

The 50-year history of the Ag and Energy Center is an illustration of the importance of change in the midst of both positive and negative external influences.  Terms like “keeping up with the times” or “the only constant is change” or the often used quote of Will Rogers “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” provide incentive to accept change and move forward.  With change comes the need to rebrand to help inform the public of what you do and what you are as an entity.  In 2018, the Ag and Energy celebrated the 50th year with a new logo.

The logo above is intended to combine the successes of the past with the challenges of the future in an effort to promote the Ag and Energy Center.  Below is a brief overview of the intended message of the new logo:

  • The leaf in the A of AG is intended to show the life of agriculture and the growing plants
  • The lightning bolt in the E of Energy illustrates ongoing focus of the Center on alternative energy sources
  • The Center Pivot illustrates the past impact on irrigation and the ongoing importance for the region
  • The green field represents Agriculture’s environmental resiliency
  • The kernel of corn symbolizes of the Center’s strength in production of a traditional crop under irrigation
  • The kidney bean is a symbol of new crop development that has been influenced by the Center
  • The flower recognizes the impact Living Legacy Gardens has had in the area
  • The falling water illustrates the importance of this critical resource and the ongoing focus on water quality
  • The solar panel looks to the future of technology improvements in energy and the Centers’ participation
  • The rising sun represents the bright future of the Center and the tie to tomorrow’s youth in the FFA