It all started with the cutworms. The moth larvae masticated through the tender young cellulose—even before the canola broke the surface of the soil. “In the spring, LC 14 got hit,” says Braeden Crone, a second-year student in Lakeland College’s crop technology diploma program. LC 14 is the biggest field, and the cutworms were merciless—the destruction total. “So on June 7, they reseeded it again,” says the young man, explaining that canola’s longer growing season pushed harvest later into the fall. As the general manager for the student-managed farm, or SMF, Crone leads a 35-person team of “croppers” that runs a 1,000-acre outfit at Lakeland’s Vermilion campus.GS
The late seeding on LC 14 meant the crop wasn’t ready for swathing (cut and laid into rows on the field) until the end of September, when it’s then left to dry out. That’s when the rain hit. And after the rain, a big snowfall over the Thanksgiving weekend. “There’s 130 acres and we’re banking on 50 bushels an acre. So probably 6,500 bushels sitting out there on the field,” he says. The crop has a value of about $65,000.
Stop and think about this for a moment. Braeden Crone is running this team and this huge responsibility and he is the grand old age of 19.
It’s all part of inverted leadership, a philosophy for learning that Lakeland instills from the top down and the bottom up. Ask Lakeland’s president, Alice Wainwright-Stewart, about the concept and she paraphrases Confucius: “What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. But it’s what I do that I really understand.”
Read more in Maclean’s here.