By Kathy Henderson
The simple signage—FarmHouse —above the door at 1505 Cleveland Ave. N. stands out amidst the nearby fraternity and sorority houses along Cleveland and Carter avenues in St. Paul that display Greek alphabet letters reflecting such names as Alpha Gamma Rho, Beta of Clovia, Delta Theta Sigma and Lambda Delta Phi.
The lack of Greek letters leads the curious to wonder if FarmHouse is a fraternity, a classroom building, a dorm or something else. A quick check via Google provides links and answers.
University fraternity members William Bosch, Emmanuel Chavira Rodriguez, Ben Deyle and Michael Moline also offered their personal FarmHouse insights for Park Bugle readers.
Here are five FarmHouse facts:
First: FarmHouse is a fraternity.
The fraternity traces its origin to the University of Missouri, where it was established in 1905. The Minnesota Chapter, which was chartered in 1931, has its roots in the Ag Club on the St. Paul campus.
FarmHouse is an acronym for its values: Faith, Ambition, Reverence, Morality, Honesty, Obedience, Unity, Service and Excellence.
Second: The FarmHouse building is much newer and far more contemporary looking than the stately houses of the U’s historic “Fraternity Row” district along University Avenue Southeast in Minneapolis.
Built in 2017, with significant contributions from FarmHouse alumni, the current building replaced the former 1960s era outdated structure. It was reportedly the first new construction of a Greek house at the U community in over 50 years.
Similar to the other nearby fraternity and sorority houses, FarmHouse is a large building (18,000 square feet), yet it blends well within the St. Anthony Park neighborhood.
The FarmHouse building, which can accommodate 44 members, had a spring 2023 membership of 31, with a 3.4 accumulative grade-point average, according to the U’s Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life website. That’s equivalent to a B+ letter grade.
“We take good care of our house in large part due to FarmHouse’s dry housing policy, which prohibits the presence of alcohol and drugs in our house,” FarmHouse president Bosch said in an email to the Bugle.
Third: You don’t have to be an agriculture student to join FarmHouse.
“Students of all majors can join FarmHouse,” stated Bosch, who is an agriculture and food business management major. “But because of our agricultural heritage and location on the St. Paul campus, agriculture students make up a little over half of our membership, and most members have some sort of connection to Ag.”
Deyle and Moline are examples of FarmHouse members who are not CFAN students (the U’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences). While Deyle, a computer engineering major, and Moline, a finance major, live at FarmHouse, they make use of the U’s Campus Commuter bus system to get to their classes at Minneapolis’ East Bank or West Bank locations.
Fourth: You don’t have to be a farm kid to be recruited by Farmhouse.
Bosch, who has lived at Farmhouse for three years and thinks of it as his “home away from home,” said Farmhouse has three ways to recruit new members:
“Our most successful recruitment method relies on prior knowledge of FarmHouse, whether that means a potential new member is related to someone who was in FarmHouse, knew of FarmHouse from interactions with alumni in his community growing up, or is already friends with members in the house.”
Deyle, who is from Byron, Minnesota, and Moline, from St. Peter, are examples of recruits with family heritage—each having a father and an uncle who are FarmHouse alumni—that gave them prior knowledge of Farmhouse.
“Other exposure to FarmHouse through FFA [Future Farmers of America] or 4-H is also a well-traveled path leading new members to FarmHouse,” Bosch stated, “as many of our members participated in and are still involved in those organizations.
Chavira Rodriguez described how he “found out about FarmHouse as an FFA member through then-Minnesota FFA president Lafe Aarsvold. He told me he was joining the fraternity, and another hometown friend, Emma, who attended the U, spoke highly of FarmHouse at our local county fair.
“I visited the chapter house that summer and immediately noticed that the men there were highly motivated, focused on excellence and had a sense of brotherhood that I wished I could be a part of. I received my bid card (an invitation to join FarmHouse) that same day and immediately signed.
“FarmHouse has given me, a first-generation college student, a unique opportunity to practice leadership in the chapter, as well as on campus,” stated Rodriguez, who has served the fraternity in various roles including vice president of recruitment and director of new member education.
Bosch also expressed how he personally benefited from involvement with FarmHouse, “The strides that I have made in my leadership, communication and social skills as a result of membership in FarmHouse are huge.”
“Finally,” Bosch concluded, “outreach to new students at the University who have no prior knowledge of FarmHouse is done through hosting fun recruitment events to which our members invite new friends they meet on campus.”
Fifth: FarmHouse is part of the community.
“FarmHouse is a social fraternity as well as a philanthropic organization,” stated Chavira Rodriguez. “Members donate their time to volunteer in the community—leaf raking, food distributions, community clean-up, etc.”
“We would like to extend an open invitation to all those in our neighborhood to drop by and get to know us,” Bosch said. “We also host philanthropy events, such as our annual crawfish boil in the spring, which is open to the public, and we would love to see some of our neighbors there!”
More details and a video tour are available at minnesotafh.org.
U of M fraternity and sorority life
Fraternity and sorority houses, whether boasting ornate Greek letters or unassuming signage, experience an annual buzz of residents returning and unpacking for the launch of the U’s fall semester classes that start Sept. 5.
Kathy Henderson is a freelance writer for the Bugle.