For the past three years, a select cadre of farm women has volunteered to personally connect consumers around the country to farming. More than 110 members strong and representing 16 states from Delaware and South Carolina to North Dakota and Colorado, the women of CommonGround have logged tens of thousands of visits with non-farmers as well as training peers. They use social media, traditional media and in-person visits to open conversations about food and food producers. 

CommonGround is a joint NCGA and USB initiative. along with state affiliates. First introduced in 2011, these volunteers have worked hard to get the farm and food message out to consumers. CommonGround participants recently appeared in a mini-series on The Balancing Act, a morning talk show on the Lifetime channel and recorded more than 6.4 million impressions. Members have conducted more than 161 million 'conversations' with consumers. Their national Facebook page alone has almost 25,000 followers, and each state page adds to that. In addition to social and other media events, the states involved in CommonGround have hosted an average of 125 special events each year.

The women of CommonGround share their expertise with each other and with their audiences around the country as they educate, inform and communicate about agriculture. Sara Ross, Minden, Iowa, and Kristin Reese, Baltimore, Ohio, have been members of CommonGround since its inception.

Ross helps her husband Kevin on the 600-acre family farm with its row crops and 75 head cow/calf herd, raises two young sons and works with her dad's independent insurance agency. Her schedule didn't stop her from responding positively when the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) told her about CommonGround.

"My husband was ICGA president-elect at the time, and we saw that when others told the farm story, it was not always accurate," says Ross. "We thought having farm wives reach out to their urban counterparts was a good way to educate consumers."

In the three years since, Ross has done her share telling the story. Through her blog (sarashousehd.com) and other work in social media, personal appearances and more, she creates an opportunity for dialogue with strangers. In return, they often comment and ask questions, giving Ross the opportunity to respond and help them better understand agriculture.