Nebraska now has six more CommonGround volunteers to help provide consumers with a stronger connection to food.
CommonGround, a national grassroots program designed to create conversations about food between the women who grow it and the women who buy it, is gaining momentum in Nebraska.
The program, coordinated in Nebraska by the Nebraska Corn and Soybean Boards, encourages volunteers to share their personal experiences with agriculture and food. The new volunteers in Nebraska will do this primarily through social media. Contributions will be made to the Nebraska CommonGround blog, the volunteer's personal social media sites and by creating educational videos.
Due to the program's success, the original Nebraska team of three volunteers will now include six new women. The farm women who will join the original CommonGround Nebraska volunteers--Shana Beattie of Sumner, Dawn Caldwell of Edgar and Kristen Eggerling of Martell--are Diane Becker of Madison, Chandra Horky of Sargent, Hilary Maricle of Albion, Joan Ruskamp of Dodge, Leslie Boswell of Shickley and Linda Schwarz of Bertrand.
Both in Nebraska and nationally, CommonGround offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how food makes it from the farm gate to the plate by utilizing a team of volunteers across 11 states. January 2011 marked the launch of CommonGround in Nebraska along with four other states--Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and South Dakota. Since then, each volunteer works to engage in one-on-one conversations with consumers about how food is produced, drawing upon their own experiences on the farm.
"CommonGround is expanding in Nebraska, but to reach more consumers, we needed to add more volunteers," says Drew Guiney, consumer relations specialist with the Nebraska Soybean Board, "We've received a positive response to the CommonGround program efforts in Nebraska, so we welcome this opportunity to increase our outreach."
The sponsors learned that farm-to-consumer conversations happen in Nebraska's mid-sized cities, not just in densely populated urban areas such as Omaha and Lincoln.
"While the original idea of CommonGround was to target events in those two cities, we're finding that there's a need to explain the farming process to consumers in smaller cities as well," Guiney says. "More volunteers give us the flexibility to react to these opportunities."
It is also important that the Nebraska Corn and Soybean Boards include volunteers who have diverse agriculture backgrounds. "We want consumers to be able to tap into a new range of farm experiences and broaden the conversation about food and farming," Guiney says.
The nine volunteers will also continue to share their experiences through appearances at grocery stores, clubs, food fairs, and other food-related events. These events initiate one-on-one conversations about family farms and their dedication to conservation, food safety, the humane treatment of animals and other pertinent food topics.
To follow Nebraska CommonGround conversation, visit www.necommonground.wordpress.com.