Consumers and Farmers Share Dinner and Conversations About Food

ODOTFBefore1ver 75 consumers from the Lawrence area came to the farm for dinner Saturday night. What happened next was an evening of conversations and a delicious farm-grown dinner.

“We just wanted to invite people to the farm for dinner and talk to them one-on-one about food and farming. We wanted to learn about their questions and concerns.  Farmers have a great story to tell, and we were happy to open the doors the farm and share that story,” said Lowell Neitzel who along with his wife, Krystale, thought up the event.

The Neitzel’s are part of a multi-generational family farm that includes both Bismarck Gardens, that grows and sells sweet corn and other produce, and Nunemaker-Ross Farms that grows corn, soybeans and cattle.  The corn grown at Bismarck Gardens is sweet corn, a vegetable crop that is harvested in the summer. The corn grown on the farm is dent corn, a grain harvested in the fall, used primarily for livestock feed and ethanol production.

“Part of my discussions with people was helping them understand that the corn we grow on the farm is different than the sweet corn we grow at the market. When we are feeding cattle or making ethanol, we’re not using up their corn on the cob or canned corn,” Neitzel said. “We also had a lot of conversations how we use biotechnology to grow healthier, more sustainable crops on our farms.”

From the brisket to the beer, much of a menu had a connection to their farm. Pat Ross, who is part of the farm and serves on the Kansas Corn Commission, explained the synergy between the farm and the companies that helped supply the meat and beverages for the dinner.

“We buy distillers grains from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City to feed our cattle along with the grain we raise here on the farm. A lot of cattle we raise here go to Bichelmeyer Meats in Kansas City. We are enjoying products from both of these companies tonight.” Ross said.

Participants shared a meal and conversation with family members from the Nunemaker-Ross Farm and Bismarck Gardens and other area farmers, including volunteers from CommonGround Kansas, volunteer female farmers who talk to consumers about food and how farmers grow it.

“The people I visited with enjoyed the evening and appreciated learning more about the farm and how we produce grain, livestock and vegetables. We wanted to know what questions and concerns they had, and our conversations were open and honest,” Neitzel said. “We learned a lot and I hope our guests did too.”

Guests reserved their seats with a donation to Douglas County 4-H. Organizations and businesses that helped with the dinner were Kansas Corn Commission, Frontier Farm Credit, Bichelmeyer Meats, Boulevard Brewing Co., Pendelton’s Country Market, Kansas CommonGround, the families who are part of Nunemaker-Ross Farms and Bismarck Gardens and their relatives and friends.