Farm Women Connect with Consumers Through CommonGround

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Sharon Portenier says there's never a down time on her family's farm near Harvard.

"It's a 365-day-a-year job and just because it snows and the roads are blocked and you can't get to work or you can't get to school - our animals still have to be taken care of," she says.

Portenier is one of a dozen Nebraska farm and ranch women who have banded together to tell their stories. The volunteers of CommonGround say they take time from their chores to share the facts about Nebraska ag and reach out to consumers through interviews, seminars, health fairs, and social media.

"To me CommonGround is an important attempt to make people aware of where their food is actually coming from, other than the grocery store," says Portenier.

Leslie Boswell, a farmer in the Shickley area, says she was tired of the way ag is sometimes portrayed in the media.

"When CommonGround was formed I jumped at the chance to get in on this because it's a way for me to work on my convictions that we need to connect with consumers," says Boswell.

Boswell says some of those disconnected consumers are local, which can be surprising when you consider that one in three Nebraska jobs are tied to ag. But more people are also one, two, or more generations removed from the family farm.

"We're not the same farms we were 60 years ago," says Boswell. "There is an incredible amount of science and technology that has come into play in farming, both with the equipment we use and the crops we raise."

"We are eating the exact same thing [consumers] are eating and putting on the table for their families," says Portenier. "We're not afraid of the food and they shouldn't be afraid of it either."

While CommonGround reaches out in a bigger way, Boswell and Portenier say if you can strike up a conversation with someone you have the opportunity to share your story too.


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