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Agvocacy, Part Two: CommonGround

Telling Your Story

Grassroots effort links farm women with urban consumers

Published on: April 16, 2013

CommonGround is a grassroots movement of farm women who want to have conversations between the women who grow food and the women who buy it.  As the CommonGround website explains, "It's a conversation based on our personal experience as farmers, but also on science and research." 

The CommonGround website focuses on eight main questions that consumers have about food:  antibiotics, food prices, animal welfare, hormones, local/organic, food safety, gmo foods, and corporate farms.  All information is backed by third-party facts. 

CommonGround is in several key agriculture producing states.  I am a CommonGround volunteer in Kansas. 

Danell Kalcevic is a CommonGround volunteer from Colorado.  She encourages farmers to educate themselves on what questions consumers have about your farming methods - perhaps attending something not agriculture related or visiting websites that are negative towards agriculture to understand what the concerns are.  She emphasizes that people who have negative opinions about agriculture have often done research and are educated about issues, but they are not hearing anything from actual farmers. 

Who do you want the general public to hear about agriculture from?  Recognizing that time is finite and farmers still need to run our businesses, Kalcevic encourages farmers to decide who you want to share your story with, pick an avenue to share your message and commit to telling your side.

Katie Olthoff is a CommonGround volunteer from Iowa who writes a blog which, in part, focuses on their turkey farm. She also writes an agvocacy blog for PorkNetwork. Since meeting Katie, I cannot eat a turkey sandwich from Subway and not think of her family. 

Katie says, "Since I have become part of CommonGround, my agvocacy efforts have become stronger and more focused.  I connect with other women close to my age, and answer the questions they have about agriculture.  I have learned how to build trust with them and spread positive information about agriculture without putting down any certain type of farming." 

Katie feels that she is making a difference where it counts – in the minds of consumers who aren't knowledgeable about modern agriculture.  She encourages others to check out the CommonGround website as it is, "a GREAT resource for agvocates and consumers.  Before I became familiar with CommonGround, I lacked confidence when talking about many of the controversial issues in agriculture.  But the website is full of information that has helped me craft a message that is truthful and fact based.  And if there is a question I can't answer, I can always send people to the website to find out more for themselves."  

If you'd like to learn more about CommonGround, go to the website to sign up for their monthly newsletter that is sent via email; click the "Join the Movement" button to receive. 

Over the next few weeks we'll talk more about other agvocacy efforts.