Rock County event reaches out to community members, influencers

The Rock County Corn and Soybean Growers Association hosted their second annual Farm to Table event this past Sunday at the Grand Prairie Events Center in Luverne, Minn.

The board extended invites to the local business, medical and governing communities to attend the event, called “Sustainability on the Modern Farm.” About 75 community members attended.

The event’s intent is to reach out to area influencers not directly tied to Rock County agriculture, says Rock County Corn and Soybean Growers President Lucas Peters.

“That was our number one goal – to attract non-farmers and let them know what we’re doing for our community in Rock County,” Peters says. “I think we had a really great, diverse mix of people for the dinner.”

The event featured a rotating discussion and Q&A with Minnesota Corn Executive Director Adam Birr and Minnesota Soybean’s Director of Public Affairs Joe Smentek.

Smentek discussed sustainability, water quality and legislative affairs.

“At the end of the day, our farmers are doing the right thing to keep the soil in their field,” Smentek says. “Tell your story, and keep doing the right thing.”

Peters says his board was pleased with the wide-ranging topics..

“The conversation was very in-depth and informative,” he says. “I thought it was a really great mix of topics, and we organized a more focused program than we did last year. Joe has a very firm grasp of all the goings-on in the legislature, and brings a unique and refreshing perspective on sustainability.”

Catering was provided by chef Skyler Hoiland of the Bluestem restaurant in Luverne. The menu offered cold corn gazpacho with roasted peppers and cucumber relish; chicken street taco, BBQ sliders and chocolate mousse with fresh berries and mint.

“We wanted to try something different instead of just grilling burgers and hot dogs,” Peters says. “Skyler is a local farm kid who’s all about using the best and freshest local ingredients. We challenged him to mix up the menu, and that’s exactly what he did.”

Proceeds from the event were donated to local foundations. Peters says the board wanted to make sure other Rock County non-profits were the beneficiaries.

“We felt it was important that it was a fundraiser for our community, and not just to raise money for our board,” Peters says.

Smentek, who also spoke at last year’s dinner, believes Rock County’s event could serve as a model for other ag organizations.

“Rock County is doing an extraordinary job of engaging with their community,” he says. “They really set a high bar in terms of working with their local organizations and starting a conversation. I really enjoyed the discussion.”

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