About 2 weeks ago, I dodged a blizzard and safely arrived home from a whirlwind trip to Washington D.C. for the National CommonGround Conference.
CommonGround is a team of female farmer volunteers who are passionate about having conversations about how food is grown. We are a grassroots effort, funded by America’s soybean and corn farmers to share our personal experiences, science and research to help you sort through myths and misinformation surrounding food and farming.
We don’t get paid to participate.
No one tells us what we can and can’t say.
We volunteer our time to host events and share personal stories from our farms because we believe that connecting with the people who eat the food we grow is important.
I’ve been volunteering with Kentucky’s CommonGround team since it first began in 2011 but this was my first opportunity to attend the national conference/training. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to finally be able to go!
I’ll be honest, most people in my life thought I was crazy for even going to this conference. I really don’t blame them. I was 30 weeks pregnant and there was a record setting blizzard headed right for D.C.
I could sense what they were thinking: “You’ve been blogging for years, what are you really going to learn?” or “Is this really worth getting snowed into D.C. for?”
I had my doubts too, but luckily my wonderful state coordinator reminded me that attending a training of this caliber at the Smithsonian was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I ignored my worries and hopped on a plane headed into a snow storm.
I had no idea we were going to light a fire in that D.C. snow.
I wasn’t prepared to be rocked, motivated and recharged in ways I didn’t even know I needed.
I didn’t know that these women and this cause would take root in my heart, in a deeper way than I had ever experienced.
We all had a lot in common.
All of us are family farmers. Most of us are wives. Many of us are mothers.
Every one of us was passionate about sharing how our families grow your food.
Every woman in the room was eager to connect with her non-farming peers, ready to answer their questions about food and farming.
Being surrounded by women who were so much like me was a surreal feeling.
At meals we swapped stories about raising our kids around agriculture and commiserated with each other over the challenges of being self-employed.
During a breakout session, we shared tips on answering food questions from that one relative we all have who still hasn’t caught on that Dr. Oz is a quack!
We laughed together, cried together and grew together as women united in the common goal of pouring our hearts and souls into sharing the story of American agriculture.
For as much as we had in common, we were also dramatically different.
Some were blogging rock stars, with thousands of online followers and fans.
Some barely used a facebook profile, but were known throughout their local communities as the best person to reach out to when you have a question about food or farming.
There were women who were amazing writers, natural born teachers, all-star farm tour guides and those who could strike up a conversation with anyone at a trade show.
No matter what the audience/occasion, there was a woman there who was perfectly suited to use it to share the story of American agriculture.
I watched in awe as my new friends showed off their talents, making things I’ve struggled with for years look so easy.
I carefully considered the way I approach blog posts, online conversations and in-person discussions with the people who eat the food my family raises and tried to soak up as many tips as I could to make these interactions more meaningful.
These women lit a fire in my heart and I left refreshed, recharged and eager to rededicate myself to sharing the stories of family farms like mine.
So what does that mean for you, my lovely readers? There’s going to be some exciting changes around here!
Now that I have a new network of 60+ new farming friends, I’ll be sharing their expertise to help you learn even more about how food is grown.
When its time to talk about milk, corn, soybeans, sheep or wheat, I’ll have the perfect friends to call on to help me make sure I’m sharing the most accurate information with you!
Also, after all these years, I’m finally launching a facebook page for this blog.
I’ve had readers requesting it for a while, but honestly, I was worried I’d neglect the page because the Celeste Comm and restaurant pages keep me so busy.
Thanks to some tips from those blogging rock stars I mentioned earlier, I’m going to give it a shot and hopefully we can all connect even more!
I’ll be sharing my latest posts, as well as posts and videos from my farming friends’ blogs.
I hope you’ll give it a like and share the posts that connect with you.