What we eat affects our health and the health of all life on Earth. It’s our responsibility to acknowledge that and take the necessary steps to promote and maintain that universal health.
That’s exactly what the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center (ELC) believes. Please keep reading to learn more about Wolf Ridge and how WIN Warehouse is helping them help the planet one meal at a time.
The Story of Wolf Ridge
Founded in 1971, this 2,000-acre campus became the first environmental learning center in the United States to be accredited as a K-12 school. Today, it serves students from more than 175 schools in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
At Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, over 12,000 students can observe healthy ecosystems annually, lay a foundation for critical thinking, and ask questions about why eating locally and whole foods might benefit people and the planet. Wolf Ridge Farm provides a production-based classroom in which students harness Mother Nature’s gifts to nourish themselves and others.
In the Wolf Ridge ELC dining room, mealtimes teach the importance of community. Kids feeding kids is a super powerful act. It gives them a sense of belonging, autonomy, and peer connectedness. The pride is overwhelmingly evident when a group of students harvests, washes, and serves vegetables to the entire Wolf Ridge Community. Ultimately, the kids can begin a healthy relationship with what nourishes them.
Wolf Ridge’s Work
At Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center’s farm, we provide:
- Agricultural and stewardship-based service-learning experiences for kids and adults
- Classes to school groups
- Outreach to our farmers’ market attendees
- Mentorships for naturalists
- Tours for the public
- Internships for university students
- Intensive farming experience through WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) for those who may want to pursue a career in food and farming
School Groups, typically 4th through 12th grade, attend Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center as a field trip during the months of September through May. Most of our students are on-site for three to five days.
During a typical education day, the students are outside for at least six hours, attending two to three-hour classes in groups of 10 to 20.
One of the 30 classes offered to schools and summer campers is at the on-site farm. Since the farm’s establishment in 2013, Food and Farming 101 class and a week-long farm camp option have been gaining popularity.
Wolf Ridge’s Community Impact
Wolf Ridge Farm grows over 10,000 pounds of vegetables to feed students in the dining hall and fill regional food shelves, schools, and the Finland community. The relationships built among Food Shelf Directors, school agriculture teachers, Finland Co-op staff, and Wolf Ridge Farm are a solid foundation to fill food accessibility gaps in our food system in northeast Minnesota.
Currently, Northeast Minnesota cannot produce the quality food necessary to feed its residents. With a dual focus on education and production, the Wolf Ridge Farm continues to build capacity to support farmer training methods that will retain farmers in the Northeast region of Minnesota.
Most immediately, at least 50 families within Finland, Silver Bay, and Ely, Minnesota, will receive nutrient-dense food for the 2022 growing season through food shelf distribution, CSA, Farmers’ Market, and partnership with the Finland Co-op.
Maintaining farm operations at Wolf Ridge will also secure future, non-pandemic educational opportunities for over 12,000 students immersed in the outdoor classrooms annually.
How WIN Warehouse Has Helped
The farm at Wolf Ridge is designed to model a resilient and just food system that will supply healthy, organic, and affordable food for the environmental learning center’s meals and the community and provide experiential ecological education, training, and research opportunities within the context of a sustainable farm and food service.
Developing healthy children with the capacity to make healthy choices will set the stage for working toward the ELC’s mission of creating a citizenry with the knowledge, skills, motivation, and commitment to work together for a quality environment. Fostering earth care through exploration and task-based learning will propagate mindful stewards who are nourished by the resources they nurture.
WIN Warehouse has helped build capacity for Wolf Ridge Farm’s hands-on vegetable production programs. From safety equipment (PPE) for farmers of all ages to tools for vegetable production and equipment maintenance and supplies that keep our production spaces neat and organized, WIN keeps Wolf Ridge Farm moving toward a more sustainable food system.
WIN Warehouse is a 501(c)(3) public charity. WIN’s mission is to provide value and mutual sustainability by connecting nonprofit organizations with corporate excess inventory. WIN is committed to helping nonprofit organizations with the goods they need to further their impact.
For more information about WIN Warehouse, please visit https://winwarehouse.org/.