CommonGround, a group of women farmers planting seeds of trust through conversations with consumers about the food they grow, celebrates an impressive milestone this month: 10 years of service and impact.
With so many food choices available, the farmers of CommonGround serve as a resource to connect with families about food and farming. The organization’s farmers volunteer their time to share personal experiences, as well as science and research, to help consumers sort through the myths and misinformation surrounding food. What began as a handful of volunteers with a shared goal has flourished, growing into a grassroots movement with more than 200 volunteers across 20 states.
“I’m proud to be part of something so authentic in this crazy world,” said Lauren Biegler, a CommonGround farmer-volunteer from Minnesota. “All the women in the program have such genuine love and pride for their families, farms and the products that come off their farms.”
CommonGround was developed by the National Corn Growers Association, in collaboration with state corn and soy associations, including the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan. Though 10 years have passed, the mission remains the same: break the barriers between farmers and consumers through direct conversations.
“CommonGround’s continued success shows the real difference farmers can make when they reach out to not only talk but really listen to consumers,” said NCGA Communications Director Cathryn Wojcicki.
The authenticity, passion and openness of the 200-plus women are the center of the past decade of success and impact. Through their work in person, on social media and in media interviews, these farm women make real connections with consumers, many of whom share the experience of motherhood with the farmer-volunteers.
Moms naturally want to feed their families the best, safest food possible. Finding information they trust can be daunting. Research shows that many moms today often experience “mom guilt” about what they feed their kids, often due to a lack of understanding and clarity on whether they’re making the best choices. CommonGround farmer-volunteers are uniquely qualified to empower other moms to feel confident in their food choices.
“Throughout history, women have worked silently in agriculture nurturing their families, caring for their animals and tending their crops,” said longtime farmer-volunteer Joan Ruskamp from Nebraska. “Many of these women have taken on a new role of becoming a voice for their farm and a comfort to urban moms through our volunteer movement in CommonGround.”
This work is often completed conversation by conversation on social media or at local and national events. Recently, CommonGround hosted a virtual cooking class for busy moms that featured chef instruction and open conversation about the meal and a wide array of common food questions surrounding topics such as GMOs, gene editing, pesticides and hormones in meat and milk.
CommonGround’s social media outreach is great for busy moms on the go to grab quick information, such as the “HERspective” video series and timely facts and discussion on the CommonGround Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels. Together, these activations show the program’s grassroots, authentic approach to conversations in action.
“NCGA thanks the women who volunteer as well as the state staff who continually find ways to innovate and improve the program as a whole,” said Wojcicki. “Working with so many creative, enthusiastic, smart women reminds me daily of the importance of our mission — both for agriculture and for happy, healthy, guilt-free families across the country.”
To learn more about CommonGround, visit findourcommonground.com.