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 Minnesota

Lauren Biegler

Lake Wilson, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: running, baking, cooking, traveling, spending time with my kids

Ask Me About: GMOs

About Me: Crop farming has been a large part of my life. I grew up on a farm, studied agriculture in college and have worked for several large agriculture businesses in sales and marketing roles. This gives me a broad knowledge of the entire industry — everything from production to the end sale.

Facebook: Lauren Sandell Biegler, CommonGround Minnesota

Katie Brenny

Mazeppa, Minnesota

Our Farm: beef cattle

My Work: farmer, wife

My Hobbies: fitness, flower gardening, photography, reading, running, travel

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, farm ownership, organic and local foods

About Me: I wear many hats – farmer, faith-driven person, and the cook in our home kitchen. I eat the same food as consumers, and I enjoy talking with them about how their food is grown and raised. My husband and I are fifth-generation farmers and we proudly raise purebred and commercial beef cattle. We enjoy being involved in our small town in the rolling hills of southeastern Minnesota.

Mackenzie Clague

Chanhassen, Minnesota

Our Farm: alfalfa, corn, dairy cattle, oats, pigs, soybeans

My Work: farmer, full-time student

My Hobbies: reading, playing softball, riding horses, spending time with family

Ask Me About: animal welfare, selecting lactose-free foods

About Me: Ironically, even though I am involved with a dairy farm, I am moderately lactose-intolerant, which means I can no longer indulge in my favorite dairy product, ice cream. However, I still get my three servings of dairy a day through lactose-free milk and Greek yogurt. I hope to share with others, who are lactose-intolerant, how they can still enjoy dairy products.

Carol Davis

Albert Lea, Minnesota

Our Farm: sheep

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, occupational therapist

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, reading

Ask Me About: animal welfare

About Me: Everyone in our family is involved on our farm, even my grandchildren. We also enjoy working together to show our sheep at county and state fairs. I believe it is important to share the truth about agriculture and teach others about farming practices.

Abby Ganyo

Pelican Rapids, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, sheep, soybeans, wheat

My Work: farmer, full-time student

My Hobbies: baking, hiking, movies, reading

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, GMO foods

About Me: I am a fifth-generation farmer. Growing up, I was in charge of tending to the sheep and lambs. I am currently attending North Dakota State University, studying animal science. I hope to use my education to answer consumer questions about our food and how it is raised.

Twitter: @AbbyGanyo

Instagram: abbyjoganyo

Billie Gervais

Slayton, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, pigs, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: hiking, overall fitness, photography, reading, traveling

Ask Me About: farm ownership

About Me: I am a licensed social worker who married onto the farm and learned very quickly that farming is where my heart is. I even resigned my full-time job within one month of moving to the farm. My grandparents farmed, and I spent many hours with them as a child and teenager, so I guess you can say it is in my blood. However, I have also learned many things outside of my comfort zone, such as driving four-wheel-drive tractors and a semi truck.

Rachel Gray

Blackduck, Minnesota

Our Farm: beef cattle, hay

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: downhill skiing, barrel racing, watching my boys play high school sports

Ask Me About: animal welfare, food safety

About Me: I am constantly learning how to improve our farm operation. As a former teacher, I know the importance of learning and being open to new ideas, and I have brought that philosophy into my farming operation. I believe that to be progressive in this industry, you must never stop learning by speaking with people and listening to the ideas of others.

Facebook: Little Timber Farms

Angela Guentzel

Kasota, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, step-mom

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, biking, hiking, reading, running, skiing

Ask Me About: farm ownership, food prices, GMO foods, sustainability

About Me: Our family farm is a sixth-generation operation, located only three miles from where our great-great,-great-grandparents settled nearly 150 years ago. We are still farming some of the same soil our ancestors farmed more than a century ago. We adopt the best equipment, farming practices and modern technologies to grow our crops sustainably while maintaining the values and work ethic of our predecessors.

Facebook: Guentzel Family Farms, LLC

Twitter: @guentzela

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8W6UY6-vcpc

Jen Haugen

Austin, Minnesota

Our Farm: pigs

My Work: farmer, registered dietitian nutritionist

My Hobbies: gardening, cooking, sewing, camping, outdoor activities, writing

Ask Me About: food safety and nutrition

About Me: As a mom, registered dietitian, writer and farm-to-plate advocate, I am passionate about educating moms about the journey their food makes from the farm to their table. I hope to help moms feel confident that their food choices are nourishing their families. I believe that moms can change the world because they have the biggest impact on their family’s eating habits.

Facebook: Jen Haugen RD

Twitter: @jenhaugen

Sara Hewitt

Kilkenny, Minnesota

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, honeybees, soybeans, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, project coordinator in agriculture

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, hiking, reading, running, skiing, travel

Ask Me About: farm ownership, food prices, food safety, GMO foods, sustainability

About Me: My husband and I continue to farm land that has been in my family for more than a century now. I love that we are giving our daughter the opportunity to grow up the way we were raised, learning to care for the land and animals. We are excited to expand our beef operation and open our honey house this fall for our customers to watch honey extraction.

Website: sweetcheekshoney.com

Blog: Faith, Farming & Cowboy Boots

Facebook: Sweet Cheeks Honey, Hewittfarms

Twitter: @swchhoney

Instagram: swchhoney

Debra Johnson

Evansville, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, bookkeeper

My Hobbies: photography, reading, travel

Ask Me About: food prices, GMO foods

About Me: After growing up on a farm, I knew I wanted my children to have the same joys of country life as I did – the open space, wildlife and gardening. We like to travel, and we always find ourselves in rural areas and on other people’s farms learning more about agriculture – even on our recent trip to Hawaii! I’m proud to be a farmer and wouldn’t trade our way of life for anything.

Facebook: Johnson Farm Girls

Ashley Kohls

Hutchinson, Minnesota

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, quality-assurance trainer and executive director

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, photography, running, biking, arts and crafts, overall fitness, gardening

Ask Me About: animal nutrition and welfare

About Me: My husband and I are the fourth generation on our family farm in McLeod County, Minnesota. We currently manage 200 cows and have a medium-sized feedlot as well. Our goal is to sustain and grow our operation to a point where the fifth generation is able to make a living on the farm. Every business decision is based on being to pass along the farm to the next generation.

Website: Beef and Babies

Facebook: Kohls Land and Cattle

Rachael Korman

Alden, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, pigs, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, elementary special education teacher

My Hobbies: arts and crafts

Ask Me About: animal welfare

About Me: Farming is truly a family affair. I appreciate the moments spent on the farm with my husband and children. Education is very important to me, and I love teaching my children and others about agriculture. Making sure that consumers are connected to farmers is very important to me because we, as farmers and ranchers, work hard every day to grow and raise food for them to enjoy.

Lisa Lacey

Campbell, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, soybeans, sugar beets, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, insurance specialist

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, fitness, hunting, quilting

Ask Me About: farm ownership, GMO foods

About Me: We are a fourth-generation farm family. I work alongside my husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law. It is my desire to help bridge the gap between farmers and consumers to help build awareness about how food is raised.

Website: www.laceyslovinglawrence.com

Twitter: @lisa_lacey

Instagram: lisamlacey

Karen Larson

Evansville, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, accountant/tax preparation

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, fitness, photography, running

Ask Me About: farm ownership

About Me: I grew up on a dairy farm 100 miles south of my husband’s sixth-generation farm where we live today. I want people to understand what we do and why we do it in agriculture. People want answers about the way their food is produced but can find a lot of false information. My goal is to promote positive communication and hard facts about agriculture.

Twitter: @sparklefarmgirl

Instagram: karen121083

Marytina Lawrence

Princeton, Minnesota

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, corn, sod

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: cooking, spending time with family

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, farm ownership

About Me: Faith, family and farming are at the forefront of my life. My husband and I are raising the fourth generation on our family farm, where we work alongside my husband’s father and brother. We enjoy being actively involved in every aspect of the farm, and we enjoy working together as a family. We have a very diverse farm; we have grown turf grass since 1967 and raised beef cattle since 1968. I am passionate about my role on the farm and sharing our story through social media and speaking engagements.

Website: https://marytinaonfaithfamilyandfarm.com/

Barb Liebenstein

Dundas, Minnesota

Our Farm: dairy cattle

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, golf, horseback riding, travel, yoga

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

About Me: We are first-generation farmer. We fondly call our farm a 4-H project that got out of hand. We started out with a 40-cow herd and now raise 400. We see about 500 visitors per year here on tours and really enjoy talking to people about our favorite animals – dairy cows.

Facebook: Wolf Creek Dairy

Natasha Mortenson

Danvers, Minnesota

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, dairy cattle, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, educational and community outreach

My Hobbies: gardening, photography, running, travel

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

About Me: I grew up on a small family-owned crop farm, where my husband now farms. I am a beekeeper and also work at Riverview, a large-scale dairy, beef and crop farm. I have perspectives of both small and large farms. While they both operate differently, both provide healthy, wholesome food for consumers.

Facebook: Natasha Mortenson, Riverview, LLP, Wulf Cattle

Twitter: @NatashaMortenso, @riverviewllp, @wulfcattle

Instagram: nmortenson, riverviewllp, wulfcattle

Carolyn Olson

Cottonwood, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, pigs, soybeans, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: baking, photography, watching sports

Ask Me About: local and organic farming, animal welfare

About Me: I grew up in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis. I married my husband and moved to the farm over 25 years ago. We have 1,100 acres of organic corn, soybeans, and wheat. We have a three-year rotation, so the acres are evenly split between the three crops. We also raise about 7,000 pigs each year for a neighbor. We use the manure from our pig barns as our source of fertilizer for our crops. Agriculture is my passion, and I feel blessed to be able to share my passion with others!

Lori Patnode

Corcoran, Minnesota

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

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, middle school secretary

My Hobbies: reading, travel, writing

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, farm ownership, sustainability

About Me: Together with our son, we run a fifth- and sixth-generation farm. We milk 80 cows, a herd size that my husband and son can handle on their own. Last year, we started having local school kids tour our farm, and we love sharing our dairy pride with the public.

Facebook: Patnode Dairy Farm

Wanda Patsche

Fairmont, Minnesota

Our Farm: pigs, corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: genealogy, reading, gardening, spending time with my family and grandchildren

Ask Me About: housing options for pigs

About Me: I have numerous roles on the farm, including bookkeeping, babysitting and fieldwork. Throughout the year, you can find me sitting at my desk, playing with my granddaughter a couple days a week, working the ground in the spring and harvesting in the fall. When I am not working on one of these projects, I enjoy researching my family history.

Facebook: Wanda PatscheMinnesota Farm Living

Twitter: @MinnFarmer

Blog: Minnesota Farm Living 

YouTube: Wpatsche

Kristen Reiman

Princeton, Minnesota

Our Farm: chickens, crops, dairy cattle

My Hobbies: spending time with friends, watching movies, working with youth

Ask Me About: dairy cattle care, hormones in food, animal care

About Me: Dairy production has been a huge part of my life, and I hope that it will continue to be part of my future. I began showing cattle for local, state and national shows when I was 12 years old. My love and knowledge of agriculture eventually led me to be a young ambassador for the dairy industry. I spoke to many consumers around the state about healthy dairy foods and animal care. Later, I attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education. I hope to share my passion for the dairy and agriculture industries with children.

Sara Roubinek

Pine City, Minnesota

Our Farm: beef cattle

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, biking, cooking, fitness

Ask Me About: sustainability

About Me: I believe is important that people know and understand where their food comes from and that it is safe for the consumer. I grew up very scared of all cows but married into a small 3rd generation beef farm and now work alongside my husband every day on the farm. I do whatever is needed: driving to get supplies, cleaning the cow yard or making dinner after a long day of farming.

Facebook: Sara Roubinek

Cheryl Rude

Granite Falls, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, soybeans, beef cattle, pigs

My Work: farmer, mom, registered dietitian

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, writing, biking, travel, movies, reading, overall fitness, hiking

Ask Me About: local and organic foods, food safety

About Me: I was the oldest child on our family’s farm, which meant I spent a lot of time helping out. We raised mostly corn and soybeans and had livestock. Now, I am a registered dietitian and have work at the Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. I think it is so important that consumers know where their food comes from and that they have accurate and factual information. I have a unique perspective of the process of getting food from the farm to the table, and I enjoy bridging the gap between consumers and farmers.

Lois Rydeen

Clearbrook, Minnesota

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, corn, soybeans, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: cooking, gardening, travel

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health

About Me: Our farm’s history traces back several generations to 1897, when the Minnesota Homestead Act was signed. Today, I work with my husband and children to raise and sell purebred beef cattle. I am a firm believer that there is always room for improvement, and as an agriculture community, we can do a better job of sharing our stories. I take this upon myself to share with consumers the truth about the ways farmers and ranchers work hard to grow and raise safe and healthy food.

Facebook: Rydeen Farms

Dottie Smith-Jacobs

Melrose, Minnesota

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, grandma, substitute teacher

My Hobbies: reading, crafting, gardening, tractor pulling, spending time with my grandchildren, riding my motorcycle

Ask Me About: animal care, pesticides, antibiotics

About Me: My husband and I enjoy many activities together – tractor pulling, riding motorcycles and being involved with the Minnesota Corn Growers organization in our county. While I spend time with my husband, I often film events and create DVDs. I have recently made DVDs for the Central Minnesota Tractor Pullers Organization and for the Stearns County Corn Growers. That hobby is almost as much fun as babysitting my grandchildren.

Facebook: Dottie Smith-Jacobs

Twitter: @countrygalDot

Megan Sukalski

Fairmont, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: reading, volunteering at the local humane society, spending time outside with my son and dogs

Ask Me About: milk production

About Me: I enjoy speaking to mothers about agriculture. I want to teach them the real story so they can teach their children everything that the agriculture industry has to offer. Agriculture has been a part of my entire life and helped me to grow into the person that I am, so promoting this industry comes very easy to me.

Kristie Swenson

Trimont, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, loan officer

My Hobbies: scrapbooking, graphic design, volleyball, spending time with my family

Ask Me About: banking and agriculture finance, GMOs

About Me: Increasing agricultural literacy has been a passion of mine since I was in sixth grade. I discovered my friends didn’t understand how food is raised, even though agriculture is our town’s primary industry. I enjoy visiting with people to give them information about food and farming.

Krista Willis

Wilmar, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, photography, quilting, reading, sewing, travel

Ask Me About: GMO foods, sustainability

About Me: Twenty years ago, my husband and I moved back to my family’s farm, where we now grow corn and soybeans. My father is still involved on the farm during planting and harvest – his favorite job is to drive the combine. Two years ago, I retired from my job, and I love that it has allowed me to become more hands-on in the farming operation. I want to break down the misconceptions that exist about modern farming in a way that people will be open to hearing. What are your food concerns?