From a young age, Sarah Goldman knew that she loved being outdoors. She was especially drawn to her garden at home and at age 14, she started to work on a farm and look at her food more closely. “I had some food allergies, so I had to pay close attention to what I was eating. It was then that I saw the social justice side to the farming industry,” Goldman says.
Goldman’s passion for agriculture spread to her college years at Carleton, where in 2014 she became a Food and Environment fellow at the Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE). Through her work with the CCCE she became inspired to launch Heart of the Heartland, which Goldman describes as a student leadership program where students on any occupation track can learn about various topics such as farm technology, farm business, and soil and water quality. “The program helps to shed light on the topics that people don’t really see or think about,” Goldman adds.
With her other co-founder Robert Harris III, Goldman planned what kind of experience the Heart of the Heartland would give to students. The result was a different theme for each week and farm work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Students work on different kinds of farms and help with the physical labor it takes to keep them running. They also have an opportunity to talk to the owners about “how they run [the] business [side of the farm] and what they can do to sustain soil and water quality.” On the other days of the week, students go to seminars and outings. “Last summer, we went to Carleton senior Marcus Irrthum’s family dairy farm, the local John Deere dealership, and even had a chance to talk with David Bly, a Minnesota politician and supporter of the Heart of the Heartland,” Goldman recalls.
Since her graduation from Carleton in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies, Goldman continues to appreciate the CCCE for being “very supportive and providing space to run the Heart of the Heartland.” Goldman credits her experience in the CCCE with giving her a new perspective on learning and a foundation for her career. “I think the usual idea of working in the community is helping people, but with Heart of the Heartland, we turned that around; we relied on farmers to give their knowledge to students,” Goldman explains. “Because of that, I began to focus more on broadening my learning and to value time in the classroom.”
After Heart of the Heartland, Goldman worked as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow to fight poverty and hunger. “First, I was placed in Arkansas, where I worked with the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative to support healthy food systems in Native American lands. Then I went to Washington D.C to work with a policy team to figure out what farm to school policies they should work on and endorse,” Goldman explains. As she had interviews for these positions, Goldman noticed that her emphasis was on her work and not academics. “I value my experience with the program because it gave me more confidence with project management. When I get interviewed for jobs, I don’t really talk about the classes I took. Instead, I talk about my work within the Northfield community.”