I had the amazing pleasure and opportunity of attending the annual North Dakota CommonGround Banquet in a Field last week. If you are unfamiliar with CommonGround, it is a group of Ag-related women who volunteer their time to foster conversations about how food is grown. Women volunteers share their personal stories and connections to agriculture and in doing so demonstrate we all have CommonGround when it comes to the food we put on our tables.
This event is truly a farm to fork event that has been held at Peterson Farms Seed in Harwood, North Dakota for several years running. As the name states, it is a banquet in a field. The owners (Carl & Julie Peterson) and employees at Peterson Farms Seed have graciously dedicated a lovely spot in the middle of their fields to host this annual event.Twelve crops grown in North Dakota are planted and featured ranging from corn, flax, durum, soybeans, wheat, dry beans, and sunflowers. Farmers who grow each of these crops are also on hand to answer questions as well as serve some delicious appetizers featuring the crop they farm. Each crop has a table that shows what the harvested crop looks like as well as some products that could be made utilize the crop. Animal agriculture is also represented with a table for lamb, beef, pork, and dairy! I had the pleasure of representing the sunflower industry. Of course I had to wear my sunflower boots! I had a ball talking to people about the sunflowers we grow on our farm as well as giving them some information about the different types of sunflowers that are grown in North Dakota. We were stationed right in front of this gorgeous plot of blooming sunflowers! It doesn’t get any better!
We also got to serve up some North Dakota Sunflower Brittle as our appetizer, courtesy of Tony (The Lost Italian) & Sarah Nasello. This stuff was phenomenal, we had many of you asking where to purchase it. Many of you who tried this brittle were also asking for the recipe, so there it is!! Other appetizers featured were Corn Fritters (they were delicious), Minty Pea Pesto, Tony’s Edamame Salad, Candied Bacon, and Dakota Rice & Bean Salad.
Tony (The Lost Italian) & Sarah were the fabulous chefs of the evening. I’ve written before about the two after I attended the North Dakota Bloggers & Writer’s Workshop where they shared the story of how they just fell in love with all things North Dakota. Their passion and love for all things North Dakota is contagious and of course they agreed whole-heartedly when asked to cook for this event. They paired up with the NDSU Meat Science team to present us with so many lovely dishes.
They cooked a mastery of dishes all featuring North Dakota crops and ingredients! We enjoyed Lamb Sliders with Tzatziki Sauce, Beef Tri-Tip with Chimichurri Sauce, Potato Hash, and a Vegetable Summer Slaw. For dessert they served Sarah’s Honey Vanilla Ice Cream with a Buttermilk Brownie. Y’all this ice cream was to die for delicious! Kids and young adults from 4-H and FFA were there to serve and clear plates. I always love seeing young kids involved in events like this, it brought back my own memories from 4-H serving at events. I even got to see one of our best friend’s daughters there serving with a smile!
Our table (shoutout to table 4!) was a wonderful mixture of people ranging from the owner of an insurance agency, an executive from Scheels, a staff writer from AgWeek, an Executive from Forum Communications, an employee of a non-profit, and an app developer from a software company. Of course, there were lots of small world moments as we talked and found out we all knew many of the same people. Mikkel from AgWeek has frequented our little town of Ashley many times. Most of the time when people ask me where I am from, they get this blank look when I repeat “Ashley, North Dakota”. Apparently Ashley isn’t on many people’s radar. 😉 Mikkel’s beautiful recap of the event can be found over on AgWeek.
Because my handsome husband was in the field harvesting wheat, I brought along one of my best friends to the event as my date. She enjoyed learning more about agriculture as well as sharing her experiences growing up as a farmer’s daughter and now moving back to our small town to become a primary care nurse practitioner. Advocating for the health of farmers in our rural community has now become one of her passions. The weather was beautiful (it was a bit humid as you can tell by my hair, but we didn’t have rain!), the evening was calm, and the mosquitos stayed away for the most part until the sun went down! That is a huge North Dakota win! But more importantly, the relationships formed while enjoyed supper in a field were many. I know I had the pleasure to catch up with old friends as well as make new friends. And of course, we got to enjoy and learn all about North Dakota Agriculture. And that is what this event is all about.
A huge thanks to all of the volunteers, hosts, and sponsors who make this event a success. Thank you for being wonderful ambassadors for Agriculture and for showing those far removed the love, beauty, and values that make this life on the farm special.
To find out more about North Dakota CommonGround and to get updates about the next Banquet in the Field, check out their Facebook page.