CommonGround banquet in a field
The 2016 Banquet in a Field was held August 2nd in the middle of Julie and Carl Peterson’s farm, located at Peterson Farms Seed, Harwood, ND, near Fargo. The event is organized by CommonGround North Dakota, a group of farmwomen volunteers working to bring clarity to discussions about food and farming. The program is about starting a conversation between women who grow food and the women who buy it, a conversation based on personal experience as farmers but also on science and research. The event is about sharing a meal in a field, prepared with food that was produced right here in North Dakota and sharing conversations about North Dakota food and farming.
CommonGround was developed by farmers through two of our national checkoffs, the United Soybean Board and the National Corn Growers Association. Many other agriculture related sponsors help to make this event possible including ND Soybean Growers, ND Beef Commission, ND Wheat Commission, Peterson Farms Seed, ND Corn Council and many others.
The food is prepared by Sarah and Tony Nasello of Fargo (previous owners of Sarello’s Restaurant) and the NDSU Meat Science BBQ Bootcamp crew. The multi-course meal is made with 12 North Dakota crops, three meats, along with honey and dairy products. A total of 144 guests and volunteers attended, and only 28 of them were farmers and ranchers. The event was also served by North Dakota FFA members, including the state officers, and a 4H group from Sargent County.
The event begins with guests being escorted to the field by CommonGround volunteers presenting their farming story on a trailer pulled by tractors. Guests toured crop plots to learn more about each crop and to taste appetizers featuring the food grown in those fields. CommonGround volunteers were available at each crop and livestock display to answer any questions. The most popular crop was the barley stand! Or should I say the beer stand?
CommonGround volunteers are then mixed amongst the guests at various tables to continue farming conversations.
I became involved in CommonGround two years ago, and this is the first event I have volunteered at. It was a beautiful, HOT August day. I worked alongside others for six hours to help set up the banquet. I played the very important role of serving champagne as the guests arrived. I enjoyed my conversations with everyone. It is amazing how even in a “rural” state, many people have been removed from the farm for a generation or more and have many questions about farming and food, especially about the use of modern farming such as equipment, GPS technology, and GMO’s. It was a very rewarding experience.
I have attended a national CommonGround training and one state training. Meeting farmwomen from across the country and our state has been very inspiring. I am interested in how the public perceives modern agriculture and in helping consumers understand the various ways our food is labeled and produced. Above all else, I want our farm to be sustainable for the future.
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