(Photo by Danielle Anderson)
Written by Jonathan Eisenthal
Les and Jeanne Anderson and their three adult daughters, Danielle, Kelsey (and fiancé Jake) and Kirsten, welcomed fifty moms from the Twin Cities out to their corn and soybean farm in Welch last week. The metro area women spent the late afternoon learning about modern agriculture.
“Every year we’re growing more food, with less fertilizer per bushel,” says Les Anderson as he led guests on a tour of the farm, pointing out different characteristics of some of the modern farm equipment on display. “This tractor drives itself, and its onboard computer knows what variety of corn or soybeans you have planted in each field.”
The event was organized by CommonGround Minnesota, a group of farm women who volunteer their time to share information about food and farming.
CommonGround partnered with Twin Cities Moms Blog, a growing online group in the Twin Cities metro, for the farm dinner event. More than 35,000 moms use Twin Cities Moms Blog as a resource for the latest information and events that might be of interest or affect their family.
“We offer a lot of resources, but we also aim to bring people’s attention to local businesses and organizations,” says Beth Zustiak, who founded of Twin Cities Moms Blog four years ago. “When we learned about CommonGround we were just super pumped, because it just encompasses everything we love to do. Supporting farmers this way just feeds what we get excited about.”
In the relaxed atmosphere of the farm tour and dinner, conversations about food seemed to grow naturally out of the setting. CommonGround volunteers from a wide variety of farms were on hand to listen and answer questions about food and farming.
“We had a couple of the gals I was sitting next to at dinner come up and talk to me, Katie (Brenny) and Bekah (Gustafson),” says Wanda Patsche, a hog farmer in Martin County. “My takeaway is the conversation we were able to have was very different from what they have read or heard in the past.”
Patsche thought the two women remained a little skeptical because what they were hearing from the CommonGround volunteers was a different perspective about agriculture from what they had previously heard.
“But I could tell they truly were listening to us,” says Patsche. “They asked questions and we had a very respectful conversation. They were very open to learning about the “other side” of the ag story. I do believe we made an impact by each of us (volunteers) sharing our own farm experiences.”