VIDEO PINKE POST: A meal rooted in agriculture
The third annual Banquet in a Field was held Aug. 2 at Peterson Farms Seed near Fargo. The event connects non-ag guests to farmers and ranchers and the crops, meats and products they raise in North Dakota. The goal is to bring clarity to the ques...
The third annual Banquet in a Field was held Aug. 2 at Peterson Farms Seed near Fargo.
The event connects non-ag guests to farmers and ranchers and the crops, meats and products they raise in North Dakota. The goal is to bring clarity to the questions and concerns that surround modern farming and food.
The evening is magnificent. The people make Banquet in a Field truly glorious. I realize I’m an idealist, but I don’t know of a more welcoming environment to share conversations than gathering around tables in a farm field and enjoy perfectly paired and prepared food and drink.
The event is hosted by CommonGround North Dakota, a group of farm women I’ve been a part of for the past few years as a state coordinator. The group of women are diverse in their roles and work and all are passionate about agriculture.
The photos so eloquently capture the beauty of Banquet in a Field (thankfully the weather cooperated all three years). But far greater are the connections. There are some critics and naysayers who don’t understand the work, purpose or results that come from such an event. We can’t win over all of them. Banquet in a Field is inclusive to all types of agriculture, encourages discussion and connects us to the land, crops, products, meats and, most importantly, the people.
A majority of the people who attend Banquet in the Field are based in Fargo. This year, 114 of the 144 seated guests were business and community influencers and leaders who don’t work in agriculture. The invitation list comes together by following community happenings in Fargo and connecting with new people each year.
This year, I asked a Fargo friend who attended Banquet in a Field last year to recommend connections. She took the lead on inviting her recommendations, instead of me, and they all came to enjoy the evening.
As my mom recently reminded me, North Dakota is really more like one town. We can sit down around tables and quickly find common ground based on where we live, people we know or where we attended college. Through discussion, we build trusted relationships and can open up about our fears, uncertainties or everyday food questions.
Farmers and ranchers are a tiny slice of the population. Leaving behind harvest at home to attend Banquet in a Field is a time commitment. But it is meaningful work for the volunteers who participate and sponsors willing to invest in the experience. One volunteer texted me the morning after the event, “I’m already back in the tractor, haying and work a shift tonight.” After an evening attending Banquet in a Field, she was back in the field and scheduled to work a shift as a nurse at a nearby hospital later that day.
I love the commitment by farmer-volunteers to make time to engage in conversations around food. We all can say we don’t have time, but the CommonGround volunteers show us it’s possible to carve out time to change local sentiment, build more trust around the food we grow and ultimately have social license to use technology on our farms and ranches that increases our sustainability and the ability for our farms to continue for a next generation.
Ag advocacy is working. I don’t know exactly what a “win” in ag advocacy looks like or how it’s defined, but Banquet in a Field is a win for all of North Dakota.
You can kick off a similar event in your area. Invite some family or friends who live in the city to your farm. Invite area landowners and neighbors. Keep it simple and small or make it as grand as you’d like.
We feature 12 crops grown in North Dakota, along with three meats, dairy and honey. The most important aspects of the event are the people and conversations. Be willing to listen first and share.
Thank you to the many passionate volunteers; ag sponsors, groups and staff; CommonGround organization; FFA and 4-H members; the gracious hosts, Carl and Julie Peterson; and recipe creators and chefs, Sarah and Tony Nasello.
I hope we see more lunches and dinners sprout up all over rural America with magnificent conversations rooted in agriculture.
Reach Katie Pinke at email@example.com .