Events

Yoga on the Farm at Keriel Dairy Offers Relaxation and Chance to Meet Cows Up Close

Yoga in the great outdoors is always a special treat, especially when combined with the opportunity to enjoy an evening with new friends and connecting the dots between the farm the grocery store. The farmer volunteers of CommonGround Kansas hosted the group’s third Yoga on the Farm event on May 18 at Keriel Dairy outside Whitewater, KS, welcoming about 40 guests to the third-generation dairy for an evening of relaxation, fun and education.

After checking in and receiving their free yoga mats, attendees started with a tour of the dairy. There were plenty of opportunities to ask questions of the Wiebe family and interact with the cows up close, including bottle-feeding calves and testing out the equipment in the milking parlor.

After the tour, guests enjoyed a refreshing break for snacks, lemonade and wine before settling into their yoga mats for a relaxing practice led by Jessica Mounts, who teaches at Hot Asana Yoga Studio in Wichita. The warm late-spring sun had slipped behind the clouds, just in time to provide cooler temperatures for the practice, which included gentle poses for all ages and abilities.

Afterward, the group gathered in the dairy barn’s hayloft under twinkling lights for post-yoga wine, a casual pulled pork dinner, door prizes and conversation with farmers and other guests.

Ticket sales benefited Kansas Food Bank in Wichita. Guests also donated non-perishable foods to the organization, helping community members who don’t enjoy the same freedom of choice in their food and struggle to provide the most basic needs.

Special thanks to the Wiebe family, who operates Keriel Dairy, for hosting us on their farm.

Events like Yoga on the Farm bring farmers and consumers together to discuss farming and food and build relationships to help folks feel more confident in their food choices. Have a question? CommonGround farmer volunteers are here to help! Send us a message or visit findourcommonground.com to learn more.

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Manhattan Young Professionals “Meat and Mingle” at Local Market

Ever wondered who’s raising your meat? Is it safe? What are the most nutritious choices? What’s the best bang for your buck? The questions about the safety of the American food system can be overwhelming, especially in an era of misinformation on the Internet. We all eat, and we all deserve to make confident food choices. Those shared values attracted a group of about 50 young professionals to “Meat and Mingle,” an event hosted by the farmer volunteers of CommonGround Kansas at the Manhattan Meat Market on Monday, April 23, in Manhattan, KS.

The after-work mingle featured wine with hors d’oeuvres, including brisket sliders, grilled bratwurst skewers, charcuterie featuring local meats and cheeses, and bacon crostinis. Many of the meats and cheeses featured were locally sourced and available at the Manhattan Meat Market.

Guests had the opportunity to learn how our favorite proteins get from the pasture to our plates. A panel discussion featured a variety of stakeholders in the food system who weighed in on farming and food topics. Panelists included Dr. Michael D. Apley, professor, K-State Veterinary Medicine; Kat Benson, registered dietitian nutritionist, Unlocked Nutrition; Jake Worcester, co-owner, Manhattan Meat Market; and Kansas farmers Melissa Hildebrand Reed and Kelsey Pagel, both CommonGround volunteers.

Admission was free and guests brought non-perishable items to donate to the Flint Hills Breadbasket. As an organization, CommonGround celebrates fearless food choices, but we understand that some families are struggling just to put the basics on their tables. We especially enjoy activities where we can give back to our local communities through food donations!

Special thanks to the Manhattan Meat Market and Manhattan Young Professionals for collaborating on this unique event!

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“Cows, Cooks and Conversation” Tour and Cooking Class Offers Behind-the-Scenes Perspective

Melissa Hildebrand Reed, CommonGround volunteer and granddaughter of the founders of Hildebrand Farms Dairy, shows attendees the milking parlor.

Mother Nature clearly didn’t get the memo that it’s technically spring. But the cold winds and snow on Saturday, Apr. 14, didn’t keep 25 cooks from getting a behind-the-scenes look at how our favorite dairy products get from the cow to the cooler at our favorite grocers.

CommonGround Kansas hosted “Cows, Cooks and Conversation” at Hildebrand Farms Dairy outside Junction City, KS, where the family raises cows and bottles their own milk to sell across the state. The event featured a tour of the dairy followed by an electric pressure cooking demonstration from Chef Alli.

The dairy’s founders’ granddaughter Melissa Hildebrand Reed is a farmer volunteer for CommonGround. She works on the farm full time handling marketing and distribution of the farm’s products across Kansas. Melissa led the tour, showing guests the bottling plant, calf barn, and milking parlor. CommonGround farmer volunteers LaVell Winsor and Krystale Neitzel also shared about their farms, both located in eastern Kansas.

“Growing up around the dairy, we forget that our way of life is different than most,” Reed said. “Sharing our farm gives us a chance to show what we do while also getting a better understanding of what the general population thinks of when they think of dairy. Our event Saturday was the perfect opportunity to show every step of how our milk is produced.”

Having Chef Alli provide a cooking demonstration really brought the food chain full circle, Reed added.

Chef Alli shreds pork cooked in the electric pressure cooker during her cooking demonstration.

After the tour, guests enjoyed warming up in the farm store with hot chocolate and vanilla ice cream, both made with the dairy’s milk. Then Chef Alli started cooking two dishes — Korean Pork Bowl and Creamy Beef Penne Pasta — in electric pressure cookers, walking guests through the process and answering questions along the way. The event concluded with samples of the two dishes and a Q&A session with CommonGround farmer volunteers. Hope Wright was the lucky winner of the door prize, a 6-quart Cuisinart electric pressure cooker, similar to the one Chef Alli cooks with.

Thanks to everyone who attended and brought non-perishable items to donate for community members who don’t enjoy the same freedom of food choices that we do. Ticket proceeds supported the Flint Hills Breadbasket.

 

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Farmers, Nutrition Professionals Network at Scenic Flint Hills Winery

About 50 farmers and nutrition professionals networked at a unique social event Wednesday, Mar. 28, at Liquid Art Winery and Estate in the scenic Flint Hills outside Manhattan, KS. The event preceded the Kansas Nutrition Council’s annual meeting and was hosted by Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Pork and CommonGround Kansas.

Attendees enjoyed a spread of hors d’oeuvres accented by locally grown and produced wines and ciders while participating in a round of “speed dating” with farmers and ranchers. The activity involved tables of 5-7 guests paired with a Kansas farmer or rancher. Everyone answered fun questions to get to know one another and learn about Kansas agriculture. After a few minutes each round, farmers and ranchers rotated to the next tables and started a new conversation with a different group of nutrition professionals. The discussion and drinks flowed for a fun, educational evening with a relaxed atmosphere.

Thanks to everyone who attended!

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Restorative Yoga on the Farm Offers Relaxation and Opportunity to Meet Farmers

A sunset yoga session offered about 50 guests an opportunity for complete relaxation during CommonGround Kansas’s second Yoga on the Farm event on Saturday, Sept. 23, on the Neitzel and Nunemaker family farm.

In a beautiful green pasture just east of Lawrence, guests gathered for a restorative yoga practice led by instructor Cherish Wood. The practice involved holding gentle poses designed to restore the body and soul. Ticket sales benefited Just Food, Douglas County’s primary food bank. Guests also donated more than 128 pounds of non-perishable foods to the organization, helping community members who don’t enjoy the same freedom of choice in their food and simply struggle to provide the most basic needs.

As the sun was setting, the yoga session concluded and guests heard from CommonGround farmer volunteers Kim Baldwin, Frances Graves, Kelsey Pagel and Krystale Neitzel, whose family raises cattle in the pasture where the event was held. Each farmer described their family farms and the most common questions they’re asked about how they raise food.

Afterward, the group descended the hill following a tiki torch-lit path to a pond-side reception area where they enjoyed post-yoga wine, hors d’oeuvres and conversation with farmers and other guests. Just moments earlier, about a dozen cattle had quietly taken a dip in the pond while the group watched from the hilltop.

“It was really neat to experience conversations with complete strangers who had different backgrounds and life experiences, but could still connect through our shared interests,” said farmer volunteer Kim Baldwin, who farms and ranches with her family near McPherson. She and guests discussed raising bees and popcorn on their central Kansas farm.

“As a mom and farmer, life is pretty busy for me right now with fall harvest and school in full swing,” Baldwin added. “Attending the yoga session allowed me some precious “me time” while also having the opportunity to share my farm with them.”

Farmer volunteer Frances Graves, who farms and ranches with her husband’s family near Bartlett, said most of the guests she spoke with were from Johnson County.

“We discussed the urban/rural divide between producers and consumers,” she said. “I was surprised to hear how much they remembered details of ag operations surrounding the urban area that were developed now, or knew of working farms that still existed near Johnson County. We seemed to share a common sense of pride as Kansans, knowing how much of our state produced the food we eat, even if it wasn’t a part of their daily life in urban Kansas City.”

Graves, who studied at the University of Kansas, spent the weekend in Lawrence and said she was struck by how many restaurants promoted having local ingredients and using only local meat, meaning raised in Kansas or a surrounding state.

“Most of the people I met with were used to this type of labeling and believed it added to their restaurant experience,” she said. “I think events like our Yoga on the Farm help remind consumers that our local farmers are providing the food that they buy at the grocery stores too, even if it’s not labeled as a specialty item.”

Special thanks to the Neitzel and Nunemaker families, who operate Bismarck Farms/Gardens, for hosting us on their beautiful ranch land.

Events like Yoga on the Farm bring farmers and consumers together to discuss farming and food and build relationships to help folks feel more confident in their food choices. Have a question? CommonGround farmer volunteers are here to help! Send us a message or visit findourcommonground.com to learn more.

 

 

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Feast on the Fe brings together farmers and foodies

Farmer volunteer Jenny Burgess visits with guests at Feast on the Fe, Sept. 15, in Salina, KS

CommonGround Kansas sponsored the second annual Feast on the Fe on Sept. 15, a celebration of local food and entertainment bringing a diverse subset of the Salina community to one table. The farm-to-fork dinner served 160 guests with five courses, each from a local chef, in an outdoor meal along Santa Fe street near the Masonic Center.

The event showcased the Salina community through local farmers, chefs, entertainers and a collaboration of local businesses and nonprofit organizations. Proceeds benefited Prairieland Market, a local non-profit cooperative.

Participating chefs for the event included Tony Dong, owner of Martinelli’s Little Italy; Eric Shelton and Michael Styers of the Salina Country Club; Tyler Gallagher, owner of Seraphim Bread; Shana Everhart of the Swedish Crown restaurant and Renaissance Cafe; and Laura Lungstrom, head cook at Soderstrom Elementary School in Lindsborg.

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Each place setting included a CommonGround pint glass

Musicians Dex Umekubo with Dean Kranzler performed for the pre-dinner social hour, and the Pale Fire Kings from Kansas City were featured after the feast.

“The Feast on the Fe provided great food and wonderful conversation,” said Melissa Reed, dairy farmer and volunteer from Abilene, KS. “It was easy to get to know the people around you as they all smiled from the delicious five-course meal that was presented.”

Each place setting included a CommonGround pint glass that guests could take home. Three CommonGround Kansas volunteer farm women, including Reed, Kim Baldwin and Jenny Burgess, took a seat at the table to converse with community members about how food is raised and answer questions about their farms. They also gave a brief introduction about their farms during the event’s opening remarks.

Guests enjoyed a five-course meal and live entertainment

“Chefs from around the Salina area pulled out all the stops and brought forth their best for this event,” Reed added. “Each dish used Kansas grown or raised, produce, meat and dairy highlighting the excellence in Kansas agriculture. With music in the background and the sun behind clouds, it made for a beautiful evening.”

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Flow Yoga on the Farm Benefits Just Food, Connects Farmers and Grocery Shoppers

We kicked off summer with our first-ever Flow Yoga on the Farm on Saturday, June 3, in a gorgeous green pasture just east of Lawrence. The weather was perfect! Thanks to the nearly 70 guests who came together for this beautiful yoga practice and food drive. Together, we raised more than $300 for Just Food and filled an entire barrel with food donations that will benefit community members in need.

After some sweat and savasana in the early summer sun, we enjoyed a fresh brunch with a make-your-own yogurt parfait bar, pastries, juice and milk from Hildebrand Farms Dairy (the farm of CommonGround volunteer Melissa Hildebrand Reed).

We had a blast trying out some new yoga poses with instructor Cherish Wood of Kansas City. We might leave that challenging crow pose to the birds flying over our fields, but we had such fun and walked away with a good sweat. The shade was very welcome after our practice!

Farmer volunteers Frances Graves, Kim Baldwin and LaVell Winsor shared the most commonly asked questions about their farms. If you didn’t get a chance to visit with them after the practice, you can learn more about their farms here. They’re also available to answer questions that might pop up down the road, too. That’s what we’re all here for!

Special thanks to Lowell and Krystale Neitzel and their family for hosting us on their beautiful ranch land. You can learn more about their farm on Facebook. They’re known for their sweet corn, so don’t miss out on that later this summer. Yum!

Our farmer volunteers enjoyed connecting with folks in the Lawrence area and talking about how we raise food on our Kansas farms and ranches. Often, food and farming are divisive topics, but this event was full of positivity and great questions about all shapes and sizes of farms, which is what CommonGround stands for. We’re all about sharing our love for our land and our animals. If you have a question about how farmers and ranchers raise your food, we’re always here to chat so you can feel more confident in your food choices.

Learn more about the national CommonGround program at findourcommonground.com. Don’t forget to like CommonGround Kansas on Facebook and on Instagram at @commongroundks for details on future events.

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Farmers Share Tasty Bites With Bloggers

Farmer Kim Baldwin joined in virtually to share about her farm in central Kansas

The digital worlds of bloggers and farmers collided in a hip office space in Kansas City’s Crossroads District on Thursday, May 4, for a dinner hosted by GBS Influence. This exclusive event allowed small selection of invited bloggers an opportunity to meet the farm women growing food, while enjoying great discussion about farming and food over a beautiful meal.

The event was a partnership between GBS Influence, formerly of the GoBlogSocial conference, and the volunteer farm women of CommonGround. The evening began with mingling and introductions before guests were treated to a gorgeous antipasto and charcuterie spread, a kale, apple and chicken salad, and gluten-free cookies with l0cal milk from Hildebrand Farms Dairy.

After the meal, guests took a few moments to complete a discussion guide, carefully considering the information they use to make food choices. Then, the group joined in a discussion about farming and food, with questions answered by CommonGround volunteers LaVell Winsor and Kim Baldwin, who joined us virtually from her farm.

Guests also received a booklet detailing each volunteer’s background, contact information and a recipe, as well as a CommonGround branded kitchen pack, including a spatula, measuring cup, cutting mat and towel.

One blogger and their guest will win a private tour of Kansas farms. The winner will be announced May 19. We can’t wait to see who it is! 

Thanks to GBS Influence and Shining Star Catering in making the night very Instagram-worthy!

We especially want to thank all the bloggers who joined us for a productive discussion about farming and food!

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Panel Discusses Farming & Food with Nutrition Professionals

Nutrition professionals joined farmers and researchers for a panel discussion prior to the Kansas Nutrition Council annual meeting.

About 50 nutrition professionals gathered Wednesday, Apr. 26, for conversation over drinks and hors d’oeuvres prior to the Kansas Nutrition Council annual meeting at the DoubleTree in Overland Park, KS. The event featured a panel discussion with farmers and researchers about how food is raised. The panel featured Dr. Dan Thomson, K-State Veterinary Medicine; Scott Thelman, Juniper Hill Farms, Lawrence, KS; LaVell Winsor, farmer, Grantville, KS; and Dr. Tom Clemente, University of Nebraska Plant Science.

CommonGround Kansas partnered with Kansas Pork and Kansas Farm Bureau to host the event. Guests were able to view a model pig barn and also use virtual reality glasses to see the inside of a pig barn. They also were able to talk one-on-one with farmers from around Kansas. 

Visit our Facebook page to watch the replay of the panel discussion via Facebook Live.

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Farmers and Ranchers Join Shocker Fans for a Day at the Ballpark

Kansas farmers and ranchers greeted Shocker baseball fans with souvenir cups of lemonade and fan giveaways during the Wichita State vs. Southern Illinois baseball game on Sunday, Apr. 9, at Eck Stadium in Wichita. Fans had a great view of the action from the right field pavilion, where they were able to get their farming and food questions answered by the families who raise crops and livestock on their nearby farms.

Three lucky families — Brandi Rice, Sonia Payne and Elisa Valencia — won four-packs of tickets to the game through a contest on the CommonGround Kansas Facebook page.

Fans also enjoyed giveaways including pom poms and sunglasses. Volunteers Kim Baldwin, Janna Splitter and Katie Sawyer welcomed fans to the pavilion and answered questions about their farms.

The cups of lemonade weren’t just a welcome refreshment for a sunny spring day. They were also a great illustration of how much weed killer is applied to an acre of cropland. Tyler Field is about two acres, so if it was a field growing crops, farmers would only apply about two lemonades’ worth of weed killer to the area. The visual reference offers an enlightening comparison to understand how little weed killer is prescribed and mixed with water to be applied to a large area.

CommonGround is a national volunteer-based organization that connects grocery shoppers with the farmers and ranchers who raise their food.

Grocery shoppers have more food choices — and questions — than ever before, yet few personally know a farmer or rancher they can feel comfortable having that dialogue with. Sourcing credible information on food production can be especially challenging with the abundance of conflicting information online. CommonGround offers an opportunity to go straight to the source.

CommonGround aims to help grocery shoppers make more fearless food choices by building connections with farmers and ranchers, providing opportunities to ask questions and offering links to resources rooted in science.

Learn more at findourcommonground.com.

Love for the land, our families, our friends and our food – that’s what fuels our CommonGround community. CommonGround is funded by America’s corn and soybean farmers. Learn more at findourcommonground.com.

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