(Posted Tue. Aug 16th, 2011)
Aug. 16: With more Americans growing up in urban and suburban areas, miles from farm life, there is an increasing disconnect between consumers and the people who grow their food. Last week, three Ohio farm women worked to reverse this trend by sharing their personal stories and experiences about farming and food at the state’s CommonGround launch event.
“The lack of knowledge about America’s agricultural system has caused confusion and distrust among people who are concerned about feeding their families safe, healthy food,” said volunteer and farmer Rachel Heimerl. “As a mother myself, I understand their concerns. We must rebuild confidence in our food system. To do that, we are working to show the commonalities between real farm families and consumers who benefit from all that farmers grow — to show there is, in fact, CommonGround.”
While it started as a national program, CommonGround is coordinated state-by-state. Ohio has now joined this movement and held a kickoff dinner on August 11th at the historic Amelita Mirolo Barn in Upper Arlington.
Local business and community women leaders, including academics, journalists, bloggers and government officials, were invited to the dinner to have conversations about food and farming, while enjoying a delicious meal of locally-produced foods. Attendees discussed a broad range of topics including when crops are harvested in Ohio and the importance of healthy eating to the size of farms and food safety.
“This was an excellent event. It was really great to be able to meet these wonderful women and learn about their farms,” said Mary Ann Krauss, Upper Arlington City Council. “I really enjoyed this dinner and look forward to hearing more about the ladies’ activities in the state.” All CommonGround spokeswomen are volunteers who are passionate about agriculture and want to set the record straight on the facts about farming and food. In every participating state, including Ohio, there is a diverse mix of farmers represented.
“Across all the CommonGround states, we have volunteers that have thousands of acres and some that have less than one hundred acres,” said Gretchen Mossbarger, a volunteer from Ross County. “We have volunteers who raise animals, some that grow vegetables and others that grow corn and soybeans. We have volunteers that grow organic crops and those that do not. This program seeks to bridge the gap between the farmers and the people that buy food. In order to do this effectively, we have to be open and real with the people we meet. We just tell them our own stories.”
CommonGround has already launched in five states and is gaining traction in six others. Participating states include Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota and Ohio.
To join the conversation, please visit:
CommonGround is a national program developed by the National Corn Growers Association and the United Soybean Board that gives farm women the opportunity to speak with consumers through a wide range of activities.