South Dakota Women Who Grow Food Start Conversations with the Women Who Buy It

May 16, 2012

CommonGround™ South Dakota Hosts ‘Conversations about Farming and Food’ Dinner


We buy it. We eat it. We talk about it.

But not everyone gets a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how food is grown and goes from the farm to the plate. With more Americans growing up in urban and suburban areas, and now, more than ever, people are concerned about their food choices; South Dakota farm women decided it was a time to start a conversation.

Thanks to a program called CommonGround, these South Dakota farm women are sharing their personal stories and experiences about farming and the food it provides.

“I have lived, eaten and breathed agriculture my whole life, and because of that, food is an issue I am very passionate about. As a consumer myself, I understand the importance of feeding my family safe, healthy food,” said Amanda Folkens. Folkens is a CommonGround volunteer, and farms with her family just across the South Dakota border near Rock Rapids, Iowa. “CommonGround is all about trying to rebuild the 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.”

Women community leaders from the Sioux Falls area joined the CommonGround volunteers for dinner to have conversations about food and farming. Topics discussed during the event included everything from how farmers care for their animals to the qualities of corn-fed and grass-fed beef.

Amanda Folkens visits with guests at her table about farming and food.

All CommonGround participants are volunteers who are passionate about agriculture and want to set the record straight on the facts about farming and food. They represent a diverse mix of farmers, serving as valuable informational resources on everything from dairy cattle, to pork production, to growing crops.

“The best thing about the CommonGround program is that it involves real farm women connecting with other women to talk about any questions and concerns they may have about food,” said Morgan Kontz, CommonGround volunteer from Colman, S.D. “We are not advocating that people buy a certain kind of product. Our purpose is to introduce people to farmers and make sure they have good, straightforward answers to their food questions so they can make informed decisions about their food choices and feel good about those choices.”

The CommonGround program is a national program that is coordinated state-by-state. South Dakota was one of the first five states to implement the program in 2010. Since then, the program has grown to include 13 other states across the country.

South Dakota CommonGround volunteers, Dawn Scheier, Morgan Kontz, Sarah VanDerVliet, Amanda Folkens & Ginger Post. (Not pictured: Peggy Greenway)

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