Students forge bonds through goat farm visits

Holdingford students spent a day with St. Cloud Somali students visiting two Bowlus-area goat farms. Pictured are front row (from left): Jerry Puchalla, Alexis Kroll, Taylor Winter, McKenzie Schulte, Alison Gerads, Kelsey Kerfeld, Shamsa Ahmed, Khadro Hussein, Abdufattah Yousif, Yasir Hassan, Ali Gelani, Farhan Abib, Colton Maciej and Cassidy Lindboe. Back row: Sandy Fussy, Dale Fussy, Dakota Grover, Frank Gosiak (Holdingford staff), Mohamed Raabi, Collin Harlander, Joshua Johanson, Sabreen Yousif, Zainab Mahmoud, Wilo Abdi, Christine Gosiak (Holdingford staff), Deeq Mohamed (South School staff), Donald Breth and Jamie Gombos.

Partnership grows with Somali students’ visit to Morrison County

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

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Frank Gosiak of Little Falls, began integrating art from different cultures into one of the classes he teaches at Holdingford High School

“I was already teaching a curriculum I had developed for multicultural and gender-fair awareness, when I attended a training that suggested integration could easily be incorporated into the arts. So I just added the integration portion to it,” said Gosiak.

Cultural diversity is limited in Holdingford and this is one way to raise cultural awareness. “For the urban kids, this raises their awareness of rural areas,” he said.

“When the lesson is first introduced, we talk about the cultural background of the area’s founders, the Irish who were here first, followed by the Germans and the Polish people,” said Gosiak.

“Every year a few parents come in with concerns, and we talk about the curriculum,” he said.

In the fall of 2011, Gosiak’s Holdingford “Arts from Different Cultures” class visited St. Cloud’s South Junior High School, where they spent the day with a diverse group of Chinese, Korean and Hispanic students.

“It’s mutually beneficial, raising awareness for both groups of students,” he said.

“There is a Web site called ‘Edmodo,’ like Facebook only more limited and secure, where the students can communicate with each other and develop friendships with each other,” said Gosiak.

In April, the two groups of students again gathered together when Somali students from South Junior High came out to Holdingford. Gosiak chose four students to be greeters and when the students arrived they were escorted to the school theater where they all watched a presentation put together by the Holdingford eighth graders.

There was a scavenger hunt at the school and lunch that met the Somali diet requirements. “The cooks called South to gets advice on putting together the menu,” said Gosiak.

They did some cultural dancing and played games. “Each student from Holdingford was paired with a student from St. Cloud and that was their ‘buddy for the day,’” he said.

After lunch, the students filled two busses for a visit to two Bowlus-area goat farms. There, they heard about raising and milking goats and got to see the operations firsthand.

“We went to goat farms, because goat products are a staple of the Somali diet,” said Gosiak.

“These farms almost went under because the company who bought their milk bailed on them,” he said. “Both of them have converted to producing their own varieties of cheese and have kept the farms in operation.”

Brian and Lee Peltz with Two River Dairy in Bowlus had their goat cheese in 20 different stores by mid-2010. Now, there are 15 stores in the Twin Cities which carry their cheese, and five in the south to southwest area of Minnesota, including Ortonville.

“Our favorite breed is Lamancha because of the amount of butterfat in the milk and the goats are more calm and content than some other breeds,” said Lee.

The Peltz’ are setting up a cheese plant on wheels, outfitting a trailer with the necessary processing equipment.

Delsa Dairy, run by Dale and Sandy Fussy of Bowlus, has been licensed since early April for production of their soft, spreadable goat cheese.

“It’s the only spreadable in our area, with several flavors — strawberry, honey, plain and bacon and jalapeno,” said Sandy.

The Fussy family raises Saanen, Alpine, Nubian and Toggenburg goats. Their cheese is marketed to The Good Earth Food Co-op in St. Cloud, The Pantry in Sartell, a co-op in St. Peter and four co-ops in the Twin Cities.

Gosiak’s classes have been treated to cultural activities from many different continents. They have participated in a Mexican Fiesta. Two women from the Bahamas visited and over a four-week period taught cooking, dance, art and other skills to the students.

“Travis from the history museum at Mille Lacs Lake teaches every year about past and present native culture, “Gosiak said.

A Japanese woman completed an internship to develop relationships with Americans.

A man from Korea interned for an entire school year and worked in several different classes from kindergarten through high school.

“These people can go back to their countries and teach about us and their experiences in the United States,” said Gosiak.