It's the personal connection farmers make with people who buy food and prepare it for their family dinner tables that can make the biggest impact on agriculture education.
One Kansan, LaVelle Winsor, Grantville, has taken this a step further by volunteering her time with CommonGround Kansas, a grass-roots movement to foster conversation among women about where food comes from.
The Kansas Corn Commission and Kansas Soybean Commission along with National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board and other state affiliates developed CommonGround to give farm women the opportunity to engage with consumers through the use of a wide range of activities.
Winsor was among a group of women who shared the story of American farming to people across the country through interviews, blogs, television and radio in early April. In one morning, Winsor took part in 25 live and taped interviews that will reach 21 specific national media markets, blog readers and radio listeners.
Addressing consumer concerns
Answering questions on issues such as organic foods and biotechnology, CommonGround volunteers served as a trusted resource for consumers with questions about where their food comes from and how it is grown. Winsor said most Americans are now two or three generations removed from farming and that people are looking to find out more about the foods they eat and who grows them.
"For example, a lot of the people that I have met through CommonGround have been genuinely surprised to learn about 96-percent of American farms are family farms," she said. "Personally, my husband and I farm with my in-laws. I have found that people are excited to find out families, much like their own, grow their food. Through honest, open dialogue with farmers, people might be surprised to find what an incredible story their food has to tell and how it just keeps getting better."
The women also responded to a variety of specific questions about production practices, technology and the difference between the wide variety of food choices available to American consumers. Many of the stations involved in this tour aired interviews live while others taped segments to run over the coming weeks. Interviews will air in cities across the country and featured in blogs such as Celebrate Woman Today, Earnest Parenting and Motherhood Moment and on radio stations across the country through its Your Health Network.
Video from these interviews will be posted to the National Corn Growers Association's website and the CommonGround website.