By Laura Rutherford, Juli Mauch and Nancy Wulfekuhle
As farmers, we have a strong desire to tell people all about what we do and what it takes to get food from our farm to their tables. Over the past year, 18 women growers from each sugarbeet growing region of the United States have come together to speak out on behalf of American agriculture and to share the story of sugar. And what better way to connect with consumers then to take them to the place where it all begins–the field. That’s why we were so excited for the wonderful opportunity to participate in CommonGround North Dakota’s second annual Banquet In A Field event.
CommonGround North Dakota is a group of farm women who advocate for agriculture. They work to facilitate conversations between farmers and consumers and bring clarity to the national dialogue about food and farming. This year’s Banquet In A Field was held on August 4 at Peterson Farms Seed in Cass County, North Dakota. Live music and beautiful tables with flowers, china, crystal and silverware graced the field of Carl and Julie Peterson. Volunteer farmers sat down to a delicious meal with business leaders, members of the media, bloggers and other influencers from the Fargo area. Attendees enjoyed great conversations about American agriculture and food prepared by chefs Tony and Sarah Nasello of Sarello’s Culinary Events in Fargo. The menu featured dishes such as pasta and handmade gnocci pomodoro, made with North Dakota durum and potatoes. Guests also enjoyed beef tenderloin and lamb, and honey vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Banquet In A Field guests were also able to tour eleven North Dakota crop plots grown by CommonGround volunteers over the summer. Each plot had a table to display facts, as well as labels and store bought products made with that crop. We had a wonderful time showing people our sugarbeet table with packages of American Crystal and Minn-Dak sugar and answering their questions about sugarbeet production in the Red River Valley region of North Dakota and Minnesota.
“My favorite part of the event was meeting all of the people who took the time to attend,” said Nancy Wulfekuhle, a sugarbeet grower from Wolverton, Minnesota. “Quite a few of the people hadn’t really had the chance to learn about sugar and all of the by-products that are produced from sugarbeets.”
Julie Mauch, a sugarbeet grower from Barney, North Dakota, said it was great to see the attendees’ level of interest.
“I loved meeting other women who have a common interest in wanting to understand where our food comes from,” she said. “Everyone that attended was genuinely interested in what we are doing on the farm.”