(Posted Tue. Mar 20th, 2012)
Mar. 20: Across the country, public interest in food production continues to grow. And that’s why the Kentucky Corn Growers Association, in conjunction with the Kentucky Soybean Growers Association, hosted a dinner through their state’s CommonGround program, bringing a broad spectrum of area thought leaders -- from journalists to stay-at-home mothers -- to the table for a conversation with local farm women.
The 30 attendees included food bloggers, health professionals, food and consumer science academics from the University of Kentucky, area cooking show hosts, a few stay-at-home moms and Kentucky CommonGround farmer volunteers, including Mary Courtney and Denise Jones.
Following a brief reception, the guests were seated for dinner, where the conversation and local refreshments flowed freely. Executive chef Jimmy Owens of the Clarion Hotel Lexington served a menu focused on regional fare, including pork chops, cheese grits and an apple-and-caramel bread pudding made with eggs laid by KCGA Director of Communications Jennifer Elwell’s own chickens. As they enjoyed the special fare, guests joined in lively conversations about the importance of farming, the volunteers’ experiences with animal agriculture and attendees concerns when selecting food for their families.
During the dinner, Courtney and Jones took turns addressing the crowd about their respective farms and experiences. Courtney, who grows jalapenos used by Papa John’s Pizza as well as vegetables for local farmers’ market sale, explained why she likes to grow food for both local and global markets. Jones, who operates a 400-cow dairy farm, provided insight into milk production, noting that she treats the cows as part of her own family.
Supported by the United Soybean Board and the National Corn Growers Association, the CommonGround program is now moving forward in 15 states: Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and South Dakota. Want to join the CommonGround conversation? Stay tuned for more CommonGround updates on the web, through Facebook or on Twitter to find out what you can to help.