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

Amy Amberg

Bird Island, Minnesota

Our Farm:  alfalfa, corn, pigs, soybeans

My Work:  farmer, wife, mom, ag department data support specialist for a local sugar beet cooperative

My Hobbies:  baking, running, traveling, reading, fitness, hiking, outdoor activities

Ask Me About:  GMOs, sustainability and conservation, animal care, food safety

About Me:

I grew up on a dairy farm, where I learned the value of hard work and how to care for animals. From those early years to later working in chicken barns, harvesting peas, working in research and production for seed companies, and now working at the sugar beet cooperative and on our family farm, agriculture has always been a big part of my life. Through those experiences, I have seen that no two farms are the same. I enjoy learning about other crops and ways of farming and am happy to show others who are interested how we raise crops and care for animals on our farm.

Instagram: @amyaamb

Pinterest:  Amy Amberg

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.

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.

Gail Donkers

Faribault, Minnesota

Name: Gail Donkers

Our Farm: alfalfa, dairy beef, corn, hog, sheep, soybeans

My Work: project manager with Wolters Kluwer, farmer, mom

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, arts and crafts, travel, movies, reading, showing sheep

Ask Me About: animal welfare, animal care and nutrition, antibiotics and animal health, food prices

About Me:

I love having honest conversations with consumers about how we raise food on our farm. When it comes to food, there is a lot of misinformation out there, and it can be difficult to sort through the facts. I am driven to provide consumers with enough information about our farm that they feel confident making informed food-purchasing decisions for their families. My husband, son and I farm with my husband’s family, and I am also a member of the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotional Council. My pet project is raising and selling a miniature heritage breed of sheep called Babydoll Southdowns. The sheep are adorable, and everyone loves them.

Website: www.bigwoodsbabydolls.com

Facebook: Big Woods Babydolls

Jenifer Goblish

Vesta, Minnesota

Name: Jenifer Goblish

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: public relations/communications, adjunct professor, wife, mom

My Hobbies: photography, travel, overall fitness, scuba diving

Ask Me About: family farms versus corporate farms

About Me:

I have become so much more involved in agriculture over the past six years, and I love being in the same fields working beside my husband and boys. I have traveled internationally on trade trips with my husband to learn about international agricultural needs and the quality U.S. farmers provide international businesses. I am passionate about spreading the truth about farming to consumers, especially moms, to help them make their food purchasing decisions without fear.

Facebook: Jenifer.Goblish

Instagram: @JenGoblish

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

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

Arlene Jones-Swenson

Scandia, Minnesota

Our Farm:  corn, horses, soybeans

My Work:  farmer and part-time accountant with the University of Minnesota

My Hobbies:  hiking, horseback riding, photography

Ask Me About:  animal care and nutrition

About Me:

I live on a small farm outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. I raise horses on my farm and am a part-time accountant at the University of Minnesota. My sister and I also own our parents’ farm in Iowa and rent the land to a local farmer. Living in an urban area, many of my friends and colleagues are interested in how their food is grown, but do not have regular access to a farm. I enjoy sharing stories from our farm and learning about other farms across the country.

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

Sarah Kern Magedanz

Eden Valley, Minnesota

Our Farm:  beef cattle, corn, sheep, soybeans

My Work:  farmer, wife, mother, farm loan manager

My Hobbies:  arts and crafts, biking, cooking, fitness, photography, running, traveling

Ask Me About:  family farms, conventional livestock operations, local food operations, farm financing

About Me:

My husband and I are involved in the family farm where I was raised, and we raise corn, beans, cattle, and kids.  I also work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) where I grant loans to beginning farmers and farmers who are looking to grow or maintain their farms. Because I live on a farm and work with farmers every day, I sometimes take for granted that I get to see first-hand how animals are cared for and how food is grown. I think it’s great that other moms in our rural community and beyond are interested in what we do on our farm. It’s so interesting to hear their perspectives and to talk with them about our family farm, which is such a big part of our lives.

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

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

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

Ashley Schmeling

Blooming Prairie , Minnesota

Our Farm:  corn, soybeans

My Work:  farmer, precision agriculture specialist, volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT) for the local ambulance service

My Hobbies:  baking, cooking, fishing, hunting, reading, traveling

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

About Me:

I have college degrees in journalism and marketing communications, but I knew even before I graduated that I belonged in agriculture. I have sought opportunities to get involved on our family farm and beyond to learn about farming in a more hands-on way. Today, I’m a precision agriculture leader at our local cooperative. In this role, I work with farmers to make the best use of technology to grow more and use fewer resources. On our family farm, I help make seed and fertilizer decisions, drive the tractor during harvest, and fill in whenever and wherever I’m needed. I also volunteer with our local ambulance service.

Megan Sukalski

Fairmont, Minnesota

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: school volunteer, reading, baking, playing with our dogs, spending time with my four boys & family

Ask Me About: antibiotics & animal health, milk production

About Me:  I grew up on a dairy farm and have been promoting the dairy industry for as long as I can remember. I enjoy speaking to other moms about the importance of dairy and agriculture as a whole. I want to converse with them about everything the agriculture industry has to offer and also to answer any questions they have about the food they are feeding their families.

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.

Jill Traut

Cold Spring, Minnesota

Our Farm: alfalfa, corn, dairy, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, academic advisor

My Hobbies: carpentry projects, cooking, fitness, photography

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

About Me: Our dairy farm could easily be described as all-hands-on-deck for our family. My grandparents originally started our family dairy and still help out where we need it. My parents are also both very active workers on the farm in addition to my brother, my sister and a variety of other family members including me and my husband. From baling hay to milking cows, picking rocks or driving tractors, everyone is willing to pitch in when we need it.

Facebook: Jill Traut

Instagram: Jill Traut

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?