90% of North Dakota’s land is in farms and ranchland and leads the nation in the production of ten different crops on your grocery store shelves - from honey to pinto beans to durum in pasta. 30,000 North Dakota families grow food for, not just for us, but a booming global population.
Consumers aren’t getting the real story about American agriculture and all that goes into growing and raising their food. CommonGround is all about starting a conversation between women who grow food, and the women who buy it. We’re a group of volunteer farm women and we plan to change that by doing something extraordinary. It’s a conversation based on our personal experience as farmers, but also on science and research. Our first goal is to help consumers understand that their food is not grown by a factory. It’s grown by people and it’s important to us that you understand and trust the process.
You might not know a North Dakota farmer or have the chance often to ask them questions you think of in your daily life. On May 18, 2015 at the Women’s Health Conference in Fargo, you will have the chance to hear from six North Dakota farmers and ranchers and ask questions, from them on buzz words you see on a news headline and to food issues you have read about but never asked a farmer their insight.
Vanessa Kummer, her husband, son and daughter-in-law, soybeans, corn, wheat and sugar beets on their family farm near Colfax. Vanessa’s leadership led her to be a United Soybean Board (USB) director for nine years and most recently served as the USB chairperson. She is also active within her community with Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Colfax, past 4-H leader, softball coach and a member of the North Dakota State College of Science’s athletic hall of fame.
Today on her family farm near Mercer, Annie Carlson and her husband currently operate an organic, grass-based farm that strives to regenerate the landscape and the local food system. Annie’s experiences include six years as a 9th grade science teacher, four years as adjunct professor of biology, three years as a corporate trainer and six years of wife-hood, motherhood and farm-hood.
Julie Peterson grew up on a northeast Iowa farm where her family grew corn and soybeans and raised both cattle and hogs. She is co-founder and VP-Marketing for Peterson Farms Seed, which has grown to become the largest independent corn and soybean seed company in the tri-state region. She and her husband live on the family farm and continue to farm at Prosper near Harwood. When not in the office, Julie enjoys volunteering; kayaking and snow-skiing.
In 1995, Ronda Thoerner and her husband started their own farm, near Cogswell. Together they are first-generation farmers and grow corn, soybeans, own and operate a permitted feedlot and have started a small cow/calf herd while raising their four children. Each year Ronda raises a dozen bottle calves to have kids from town halter break them to show in the county fair to build a connection for the kids to learn where their food comes from.
Joey Tigges and her husband Tim live south of Casselton on a hobby farm where they have show pigs. She grew up on a cattle ranch by Velva, North Dakota and graduated from NDSU, where she was very active in several agriculture organizations and on the NDSU livestock and dairy judging teams. Joey judges several county fairs each summer and is a member of CommonGround and the North Dakota Pork Council.
For Katie Pinke, food and farming are catalysts to engage, enlighten and empower. A fifth generation farm girl and lifelong North Dakotan, Katie shares tweets, gritty blog posts and mesmerizing North Dakota sunset snapshots from the prairie. She seizes every opportunity to talk about family, food, farm life and community, online and offline. Katie’s family farms near Aneta, raising winter wheat, barley, black beans, corn and soybeans.
We hope you’ll join in the conversation. Each CommonGround North Dakota farmer volunteer is ready to listen and connect with you on your questions about North Dakota farming and ranching on May 18, in Fargo. Register today to hear their personal experiences on the choices they make for their farms and ranches and families.