Brainerd’s Central Lakes College (CLC) is bolstering its farm business management program with the addition of two new instructors, Narayan Dhakal and Erik Heimark. This expansion is made possible thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council, which aims to support urban agriculture and provide assistance to specialty crops producers.
Specialized Expertise for Diverse Audiences
Narayan Dhakal’s role will focus on urban agriculture and serve the seven-county metro area, while Erik Heimark will provide assistance to specialty crops producers across the state. Cory Detloff, the director of ag & energy/farm business management at CLC, expressed his enthusiasm for having Dhakal and Heimark join the team. He sees this expansion as an opportunity to extend farm business management education to new populations.
Detloff stated, “They will bring a wealth of knowledge to new populations that have not been able to participate in Farm Business Management. I am excited to offer Farm Business Management in the seven-county metro area, as well as being able to once again offer Specialty Crops Farm Business Management.”
Narayan Dhakal: A Multidisciplinary Conservation Expert
Narayan Dhakal’s journey to the United States began in Nepal, where he pursued graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, ultimately earning a doctorate in conservation biology. With over 20 years of experience in multidisciplinary community-based conservation, both in the U.S. and Nepal, Dhakal brings a unique perspective to the program. He has also volunteered for SCORE Minnesota, mentoring small business owners.
Dhakal is excited about his role and said, “I will bring new perspectives on mitigating adverse environmental consequences through the means of responsible farm business management. I believe small-scale farm management is instrumental in producing the next generation of responsible farm business models and hope my FBM instructor position will also strengthen the community outreach in food production, processing, managing, and marketing.”
Erik Heimark: An Education and Agriculture Enthusiast
Erik Heimark’s background in education includes previous roles as an agriculture and industrial arts teacher at Aitkin High School and a naturalist instructor at Long Lake Conservation Center. He also has experience as an orchard manager at a local orchard. Currently, Heimark owns and operates a five-acre vegetable farm in southern Aitkin County with his husband.
Heimark is eager to support specialty crops farmers and said, “My goal is to help Minnesota become a state recognized for its produce and specialty crop production and increase the sustainability and profitability of these enterprises.”
Support from the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council
Sarah Dornink, executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council, expressed excitement about partnering with Central Lakes College to expand farm business management opportunities for underserved farming populations. She looks forward to supporting Dhakal and Heimark in their roles working with urban and specialty crop farmers.
Keith Olander, executive director of AgCentric and Agricultural Partnerships with Minnesota State and CLC, added, “Minnesota Farm Business Management will increase its impact on farmers with these two positions added to our ranks. I am pleased to have Narayan and Erik join Minnesota FBM to serve specialty crops, urban, and emerging farmers.”
Central Lakes College’s expansion of its farm business management program is a positive step towards enhancing education and support for farmers across Minnesota. With specialized instructors like Dhakal and Heimark, the program is better equipped to meet the diverse needs of the state’s agricultural community.