With the green and yellow John Deere logo on everything from clocks to cooking canisters, a quick glance around LaVell Winsor’s kitchen is all it takes to tell she’s a farm wife.
From the kitchen to the field, Winsor wants to share what it means to be a farm woman as part of a program geared toward dispelling misconceptions about conventional farming. Winsor is part of a campaign backed by the United Soybean Board and the National Corn Growers Association called CommonGround. The goal is to cultivate conversations between the women who grow food and the women who buy it.
“We see that in a grocery store it is usually the women and moms of the family doing the grocery shopping. So what better way to connect with the consumer than farm moms, who grow the same food they put on the table?” said DeEtta Bohling, a communications specialist for the Kansas Corn Commission.
The program originally started with five states and has expanded to 15. Earlier this month, farm women had dinner with academics, media and government officials in Lawrence before the Kansas University and K-State women’s basketball game to talk about farming.
“We aren’t trying to tell anyone how to eat,” Winsor said. “But we would like them to know what actually happens on our farm.”
Winsor lives near Grantville on a corn and soybean farm with her husband, Andy, 1-year-old son, Brayden, and 16-year-old son, Kade. Andy is a third-generation farmer in the area and farms with his brother and father.
Among the misinformation Winsor would like to counter is that corporations are growing the nation’s food.
“If you look at the statistics, it’s like 96 percent of (farms) are family-owned,” Winsor said. “The family is there working day to day.”
Winsor is one of four women in the state who have volunteered to share their experience of farm life, mostly through blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The other farm women are from Alton, Ulysses and Clay Center.
On Winsor’s blog, she has written about everything from the need to improve agriculture production to meet a growing world population, to hot chocolate recipes. One of the more popular posts was an explanation of how soybeans are harvested. The post came with photos of a combine in action, the unloading of grain and the family taking a snack break out of the back of a minivan.
Winsor was surprised by how many of her friends were interested in the process.
“This is what we do everyday, but people have no idea how that works,” she said.
Winsor, who married her husband eight years ago, has been around agriculture all her life.
She grew up on a wheat, barley, cattle and hog farm in eastern Colorado, majored in agribusiness at Colorado State University and worked for Cargill, where she helped advised farmers on when to sell grain. She is now a consultant at Loewen and Associates.
Even before becoming a part of CommonGround, Winsor was asking how farmers could inform others about agriculture.
“How can we get information out there, what can we do about this, how can we get more knowledge out on how (farming) actually happens in this area?” Winsor said.
Along with the misconception of farms as corporate entities, Winsor said that few consumers realize the amount of safety regulations farmers have to follow. And, while Winsor supports the concept of buying local foods, she also said there are great benefits to being able to buy food that comes from far away. The system is one that allows folks to eat fresh fruit and vegetables all year long.
“We want to have conversations, we want to educate people about what is going on, on the farm,” Winsor said.