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The fields were abloom at Dordt

Motorists driving past fields at the Dordt College Agriculture Stewardship Center this summer, did a double take and sometimes even stopped to look at the fields of blue. Entire fields were abloom with flax.

Itís an unusual sight today, even though only two generations ago growing flax was not uncommon. The linseed oil it produced was a main ingredient in paint, and farming was more diversified then. But flax is making a comeback, as the nutritional value of its pressed oil is touted.

The fields of flax this summer were part of a research project done at the Agriculture Stewardship Center. Dr. Ron Vos was told by Dr. Margaret Smith from Iowa State Universityís School of Agriculture about an opportunity to grow and compile data on organic flax that would be processed at a certified organic plant in Cherokee.

The flax was grown and produced for Spectrum Organics, a large supplier of flax oil supplements.

According to Vos, the agriculture department has regular contact with two members of the Iowa State agriculture faculty, both of whom are Christians and who have come to respect the program at Dordt College. They know that Dordt College is able to do statistically valid research using large scale farm equipment at the ASC.

Once the fields were planted, Sophomore Jennifer Anema gathered data on growth and harvest activity that can be passed on to farmers who wish to begin growing flax.

Such opportunities present wonderful opportunities for students to gain research experience, says Vos. Senior Esther Van Mersbergen worked on another project connected with ISU on triticale, conducting research to help determine whether other small grains could be grown in Iowa to help break the weed cycles and be fed to livestock.