Our Community


Love for the land, our families, our friends and our food – that’s what fuels our CommonGround community. Scroll down to learn where our volunteers are located, or Contact Us to get involved.

CommonGround Michigan

Melanie Block

Conklin, Michigan

Our Farm: pigs, produce, sheep

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, agriscience teacher

My Hobbies: baking, gardening, overall fitness, traveling

Ask Me About: animal welfare, food safety, hormones in meat and milk

About Me: My husband and I own and operate Lucky Star Farms, an all-natural meats and produce farm. We sell our meat directly to consumers and our produce directly to restaurants in our area. We also have two sons, and in my free time, I enjoy cooking, traveling and photography.

Instagram: @luckystarfarms2000

Amy Engelhard

Unionville, Michigan

Our Farm:  beans, corn, soybeans, wheat

My Work:  farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies:   writing, photography, arts and crafts, reading, volunteering

Ask Me About:  local and organic foods, sustainability and conservation

About Me:  The first time my husband and I met, we hit it off talking about soil types and the different types of compost that help keep soil healthy. That passion for caring for the land and the soil continues with our farm today, where my family operates an organic farm in Michigan. I am very involved in local farm organizations and enjoy talking with others about sustainability and conservation practices and the food we grow on our farm. In addition to helping out on the farm, I am also actively involved in our church as a Stewardship Committee member. I also represent our farm at the local Rotary Club.

Facebook:  Engelhard Family Farms

Twitter:  @EngelhardFF

Janna Fritz

Bad Axe, Michigan

Our Farm: black beans, corn, navy beans, soybeans, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, seed salesperson

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, running, travel

Ask Me About: farm ownership, GMO foods

About Me: I am a city girl turned into country mom and wife. My husband works incredibly hard day-to-day on our farm operation. I work off the farm but support his efforts in any way I can. Together, we love to talk about agriculture and what we do on our farm. I am proud to live, work and raise our boys in rural America.

Facebook: Janna Krajci Fritz

Twitter: @Grins100

Rita Herford

Harbor Beach, Michigan

Our Farm: corn, edible beans, sugar beets, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: baking, movies, travel, Zumba

Ask Me About: farm ownership, GMO foods, sustainability

About Me: My family farm is unique in that the women on our farm are full time farmers. My mom and I do everything the guys do: drive semis, run combines, planters and sugar beet equipment. I am passionate about agriculture, and I love talking to others about how we grow food for our family and community. Five years into my full time farming career, I picked up another full time job as a mother. My husband and I have one daughter, Alexis. We enjoy our busy life and wouldn’t want it any other way.

Facebook: GentnerBischerFarms

Twitter: @HerfordRita

Kristi Keilen

Westphalia, Michigan

Our Farm: alfalfa, corn, dairy, sorghum, soybeans, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, nutritionist

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, blogging, cooking, reading

Ask Me About: antibiotics and animal health, animal welfare, food safety, hormones in meat and milk, sustainability

About Me: Family is extremely important to me. In addition to my roles as wife, mom and farmer, I’m also a dairy nutritionist. On our farm, we milk around 450 cows three times a day. I love to have conversations with people about what we do and why we do it.

Facebook: Kristi Keilen, Once upon a dairy

Twitter: @Kristi Keilen

Snapchat: Kristi Keilen

Ashley Kennedy

Bad Axe, Michigan

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, black beans, corn, dairy cattle, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: baking, blogging, reading, travel and writing

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, farm ownership, hormones in meat and milk

About Me: I was born and raised on the farm that my grandma and grandpa purchased when they were newlyweds. I married my husband, Eric, in 2012, and now we farm with my parents on the land where I grew up. In 2015, I gave birth to our little miracle, a daughter, Calli Marie. We also have two dogs, and in my free time, I enjoy photography, cooking, fashion and beauty and music. 

Website: Messy Kennedy

Facebook: Messy Kennedy

Twitter: @Armessing

Sharon Kokx

Hickory Corners, Michigan

Our Farm: corn, fruit, goats, vegetables

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, reading, traveling

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, farm ownership, food prices, food safety, hormones in meat and milk, organic and local foods, sustainability

About Me: My husband and I are both retired from our jobs off the farm and enjoy spending time with our kids and grandchildren. In my free time, I enjoy baking, hiking and traveling, and I’m involved in my local church. On our farm, we raise goats and run a farm market, where we grow gourds, melons, peppers, pumpkins, squash, super sweet gourmet sweet corn (which is a bi-colored corn with a sweet taste) and tomatoes. We sell our pumpkins and sweet corn to four grocery stores in the area. We love being full-time farmers and sharing our story of agriculture with our community.

Samantha Krhovsky

Corunna, Michigan

Our Farm: corn, soybeans, wheat, vegetables

My Work: farmer, wife, District Sales Manager with DEKALB Asgrow for Monsanto

My Hobbies: blogging, cooking, movies, photography, reading

Ask Me About:  GMOs, sustainability and conservation, family farms

About Me:  My husband is a 4th generation farmer and we farm alongside his parents in MI. When we are not farming, we enjoy roadside sales of sweet corn in the summer and pumpkins, gourds, broom and ear corn and straw in the fall. It is important to me to try and bridge the gap between consumers and the farm. With so much information at hand, it is hard to distinguish what the truth is. I hope that by sharing my experience I can shed some light on what we do on our farm, and give a better understanding to consumers about where their food comes from.

Facebook: Sassy Agronomist

Instagram: SassyAgronomist

Twitter: @SassyAgronomist

Brigette Leach

Climax, Michigan

Our Farm: vegetables

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, cooking, reading, traveling

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, farm ownership, food prices, food safety, GMO foods, hormones in meat and milk, organic and local foods, sustainability

About Me: Our community is very important to my husband, Larry, and me. We’ve been actively involved with 4-H, a youth development program, and our local conservation districts. Larry served on our local fire department for 35 years, 24 of those years as chief. As our community changed, our farming operation evolved away from livestock. Today, we have hydroponic greenhouses for producing tomatoes and salad greens. We also grow vegetables in the field. All of those crops are direct marketed to local restaurants and at several area farmer’s markets. We also grow irrigated field crops.

 Facebook: Brigette Leach

Twitter: @leach_brigette

Allyson Maxwell

Hope, Michigan

Our Farm:  beef cattle, corn, soybeans, sugar beets

My Work:  farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies:   baking, traveling, watching movies, fitness, jumps instructor

Ask Me About:  biotechnology

About Me:  I grew up in the city and knew very little about farming until I met my husband, whose family has been farming in our area since the late 1800s. I am very proud to be part of our family farm and have learned so much about food and farming over the years. We open the farm to the public every October and sell pumpkins, squash, gourds, hay rides, cider, donuts and more. I enjoy talking with others about how we grow food and care for our land and animals.

Facebook:  Maxwell’s Pumpkin Farm

Twitter:  @accidntlfarmgrl

Renee McCauley

Lowell, Michigan

Our Farm: dairy

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: photography, travel

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, farm ownership, food safety, hormones in meat and milk

About Me: My husband and I work on the dairy farm where my parents raised me and where my mom still plays an active role. As my husband and I are starting the transition to ownership of the farm, we are exploring ways to improve cow comfort and sustainability. I am proud that our love for our cows and our care for their well-being is what drives our daily agendas. I participate in CommonGround so that I can share our farming approach with people who live in cities with little or no access to agriculture.

Twitter: @tumbleweedcows

Instagram: naynay4825

Snapchat: aunt_nay11

Cathy McCune

St. Louis, Michigan

Our Farm: dairy cattle

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, cooking, traveling, writing

Ask Me About: animal welfare, farm ownership, food prices, food safety, hormones in meat and milk, organic and local foods, sustainability

About Me: My husband and I own and operate McCune Centennial Farm, a farm that has been in my husband’s family since 1880. Our son, Chase, also farms with us. We host a fundraising event at our farm each year to benefit local cancer patients – something we started when my sister was diagnosed with cancer in 2007. I am active in our community and church and enjoying quilting and spending time with my grandchildren! Plus, I love the farm life.

Facebook: McCune Centennial Farm

Paige Reetz

East Lansing, Michigan

Our Farm:  alfalfa, corn, dairy

My Work: full-time student, Associate Territory Seed Sales Manager with Corteva Agriscience

My Hobbies: bodybuilding, cooking, overall fitness/health and travel

Ask Me About: GMOs, organic and local foods, sustainability and conservation, and food safety

About Me: After growing up on my family’s dairy farm in West Branch, MI, I decided to pursue a college degree in the field of Agriculture at Michigan State University and I currently work as a teaching assistant within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I previously interned with Corteva Agriscience (Dow/DuPont) and recently accepted a full-time position with them upon completing my studies in the Spring of 2019. I compete in bodybuilding shows across the state and therefore spend a lot of time with health-conscious people. With that, I hear many misconceptions about how our food, especially meat, is raised. I believe that it is crucial for producers, such as myself, to have the ability to connect with consumers and overcome common misconceptions, by providing accurate information.

Carla Schultz

Kingston, Michigan

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, corn, black and navy beans, pigs, soybeans, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, biking, cooking, hiking, overall fitness, reading, running

Ask Me About: animal welfare, farm ownership, GMO foods, sustainability

About Me: In addition to being a wife and mom, I’m actively involved in our local 4-H, a youth development program. My faith is also a big part of my life, so I volunteer at our church and grade school that is run through our church. On our farm, we direct market our beef and pork, but sell most of our grains on a global scale. We feel blessed to be able to take care of this great creation, and I have a passion for advocating for agriculture.

Facebook: Schultz Farms: Grass Based Beef

Website: https://www.eightplatesfarm.com/

Jody Sharrard

Peck, Michigan

Our Farm: alfalfa, corn and sugar beets

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: cooking, reading,

Ask Me About: animal welfare, sustainability

About Me: I grew up on a tiny dairy farm (20 milking cows) that is six miles from where I farm today.  Our farm was recognized as a centennial farm in 2009.  A centennial farm is a farm that is formally recognized by our state as being in operation by the same family for 100 years. My husband and I have three boys, ages 16, 14, and 12.  The boys are active in sports year-round, but football is our passion. We are starting a new adventure this year.  We have three gilts (female pigs that haven’t had babies) that we are planning to breed and raise the piglets (babies) for fair projects. Outside of the farm, I love to cook, read, do puzzles and be outside.  I’m also active in our school, helping educate and promote agriculture (mostly the benefits of dairy) to the school kids.

Facebook: Sharrard Farms LLC

Lisa Szymanski

Port Austin, Michigan

Our Farm:  corn, soybeans, wheat and other beans

My Work:  farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies:   reading, camping, baking

Ask Me About:  biotechnology, sustainability and conservation, family farms

About Me:  We have a lot of visitors who travel to our area of Michigan and don’t have a connection to agriculture, but are very interested in where their food comes from and how it’s grown. I enjoy talking with them and others about how we grow food on our family farm.  I am involved in our church, where I teach Faith Formation classes. I also work part-time at my children’s school. I love spending time with my family in my free time.

Facebook:  A Little House on the Farm

Website:  A Little House On The Farm

Carla Wardin

Saint Johns, Michigan

Our Farm: dairy cattle

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, writer, speaker

My Hobbies: hiking, photography, running, traveling

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, farm ownership, hormones in meat and milk,

About Me: About Me:  My husband, Kris, and I are sixth-generation farmers on my parents’ dairy farm in Michigan, but we didn’t start out as farmers. After we graduated from Michigan State University, we both worked in the corporate world for six years. My parents wanted to retire, so we quit our jobs, moved from Connecticut to Michigan and bought the farm. That was nine years ago, and we’re so glad we made this decision! We have three boys, and we love our farming life.  In my spare time, I love blogging, reading, writing, teaching swimming lessons and playing the flute.

Website: Truth or Dairy

Facebook: Truth or Dairy

Twitter: @Carlashelley

Instagram: @Carlashelley