Marissa Huppe ’13 gained extensive experience in everything from cultivating vegetables to training oxen during her childhood on a working farm in New Hampshire. “I have done vegetable production outdoors,” says Huppe, “but never in high tunnels before.” For this Farmington native, the hands-on aspects of working in the high tunnels – as part of the Integrated Agricultural Management program in the Thompson School of Applied Science – rounds out her early introduction to farming.
Huppe’s sister, seven years her senior, has a business degree and just the right mix of skills to fulfill their shared dream of starting their own diversified farm together. “We’ll produce different animal products and crops,” says Huppe, “eggs, meat birds, beef cattle, Christmas trees, and vegetables.”
“The modern day farmer has to wear a lot of hats,” says Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Lecturer Andrew Ogden who imparts his knowledge of everything from production to marketing in the Food Production Field Experience courses. “Having an education like this, where students can practice their skills year-round in the high-tunnels, opens their eyes to all of the crop planning that goes into running a successful farm. It’s both physically and mentally demanding. Students need to be able to accurately do seed calculations and plan purchasing; interpret soil test results; and apply fertilizers, which involves a lot of math,” says Ogden.
With the additional focus on developing a business plan, understanding best practices for advertising and marketing, and having knowledge of labor laws and personnel management, Huppe is receiving a well-rounded education that will give her both the know-how and confidence to go after her dreams in agriculture.
- Victoria Forester Courtland