I’ve heard it more than a hundred times, growing up and living “in the middle of nowhere.” There is nothing to do in North Dakota. But to me, this place is somewhere and no matter where you live, I think you create your experiences and definition of something to do. In a world of technology at our fingertips often times we lack that personal, face-to-face time. For those that know me offline, I love hosting parties and get-together events. Technology and online time provide tools that connects me to new people to invite to offline events. Or technology and online tools are a way to stay connected to my longtime friends and family and to invite them to an offline event, a party, a potluck, a baby shower, a Christmas party, a post-game snacking, whatever it may be. Ultimately, I want to meet people, get to know them more and listen to their stories. I thrive on people time!
Connecting people to farms and where their food comes from is one of my greatest passions, both online and offline. Through a consulting work project of mine, I wrote a proposal for CommonGround North Dakota to host a “Moms After 5” event on a North Dakota farm. My fellow prairie mama friend, Sarah Wilson volunteered to host the event at she and her husband’s fifth generation family farm after planting and seeding wrapping up this spring. Knowing there would be some non-moms there we changed it to a Ladies Night After 5 . Then it was “on the farm” as a location and gave a reason to the ladies to drive just outside of town to Sarah’s farm home.
Ladies Night on the farm, of course happened on a rainy night. That’s how party planning goes, pouring rain on muddy roads. There were no farm walks or tours like Sarah and husband, Jeremy had planned. No sunset photos over a soybean field. But instead we were inside for food, farm talk, stories, laughter and then a lesson on taking “junk” and turning into pots and planters from Kustom Creations and Grandma Gertie’s Attic, both of Jamestown, North Dakota.
Sarah is a former Maryland Dairy Princess and had all the cheese, food and Dakota Sun Gardens wine donated, purchased and organized. I pulled out my cheese tray skills to impress her and poured the wine. I think it is worth a visit north of Carrington to see how local wine is made using North Dakota hearty grown fruits. And I recommend enjoying it with plenty of meat and cheese! Maybe that will be another ladies outing for us to visit!
Sarah shared a rich history of her Maryland farming roots, from urban farmers markets to coming to North Dakota State University to earn her master’s degree in animal science. She worked for seven years for North Dakota Farm Bureau and married a local farmer, Jeremy. Together they raise their three children on what was Jeremy’s grandparent’s home place.
Sarah’s stories opened our dialogue. She is a professional speaker, someone I love sharing alongside and one of my trusted friends. She gave a comfort to the ladies around the table. (Watch her award-winning CommonGround Farm Mom Video which we shared at the Ladies Night on the farm.)
The ladies were from all walks of life in and around Jamestown, North Dakota. Teachers, a nurse, an occupational therapist , a librarian, a dentist, a veterinarian and more. Many have children. Each and every one had an interest in knowing more about farms, where their food comes from and how it is raised. A couple of people had connections to Sarah. Others knew someone at the table through a school or community connection.
By the time we were done going around the table, listening to others and sharing our own stories, we connected. It was a memorable night. Outside, the rain fell. Inside, we ate, laughed and potted plants. If someone had a question about North Dakota farms, farming practices or what food is raised in our farm fields, Sarah and I answered as best we could. Dr. Dawn was a resource to answer any animal or pet questions. Ladies night on the farm reminded me that personal relationships and down time, away from technology, away from work, away from kids and commitments, matters. A few hours of one on one conversations along with big group laughs was worth driving through the mud.
Most important though is it doesn’t matter where you live. People matter more than followers. Offline conversations have a greater impact I think than online dialogue alone. However, the two can work together. You build new relationships, create budding friendships and help connect more people to farms. When people understand more about where their food comes from, they become advocates for farmers and have a resource to turn to when they have more questions. I turn to them about my healthcare and education questions that they have more expertise in. To me, it is a win all-around.
Ladies Night on the farm was a gem of a night. I am grateful to have these local opportunities that build friendships in our own backyards. Thank you Wilson family for hosting, for the CommonGround North Dakota for allowing our ideas come to life and to the fabulous 14 ladies of Jamestown who made my June richly rewarding with our inaugural Ladies Night on the farm!
Next time, you think there is nothing to do on an upcoming evening; Plan a farm visit, invite over a neighbor, host a potluck. Build relationships with those around you.