Sustainable Agriculture Means Sustaining More Young Farmers
Aside from connecting directly with working farmers, General Mills cultivation of the next generation includes partnering with students and researchers at the University of Minnesota on projects related to farming, food innovation, business networking and sustainable agriculture.
In particular, the UMN connection involves General Mills in the school’s Forever Green sustainable agriculture initiative with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The initiative aims to develop crops and systems that support soil health, water supply and other natural resources in Minnesota while driving economic development.
One crop to come out of the program is a perennial grain called Kernza®. Kernza is a relative of annual wheat. With roots of up to 10 feet deep, it has significant advantages over its annual cousin in terms of soil health, water resources, and carbon sequestration. As a perennial, Kernza can also aid in wildlife habitat — all necessary ingredients for sustainable agriculture.
To ice the cake, Kernza requires less tilling and soil disruption, leading to less expense for the farmer.
Last year, General Mills announced that its Cascadian Farm brand would partner with The Land Institute to help commercialize organic Kernza, along with a supporting donation of $500,000 to the Forever Green program.