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Dickinson Area Chamber hosts ‘Banquet in a Field’ to educate consumers about agriculture

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 6:31 PM CDT
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DICKINSON, N.D. - In North Dakota, there are more cattle than people. Our farmers grow much of the corn, wheat and barley produced in the United States, and the state is the leading producer of sunflowers, field peas, dry edible beans, lentils and canola.

All of that makes agriculture a very big part of the state’s economy, but many who don’t live on farms and ranches don’t truly understand the importance of agriculture.

The Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce is working to change that.

For the third year, they hosted “Banquet in a Field, " a meal designed to help bridge the gap between farmers and consumers.

This is a meal Kari Dunn will be talking about for months. The company, the food, the atmosphere and the lessons.

“I already did learn some things,” said Dunn, a private banker at American Bank Center in Dickinson. “I learned that you can make soybean hummus and it was delicious!”

Everything on the menu, from the steak to the sunflower seeds that top the salad is grown in southwestern North Dakota.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our country and we need agriculture to feed our people,” explained Lavy Steiner, chair of the community’s volunteer agriculture committee.

On this night, the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce is feeding 150 people.

“It’s trying to mesh the local community with the ag producers and create a local bond between the two,” said Chip Poland, Dickinson State University ag department chair.

“We don’t want to lose the understanding of the blood sweat and tears it takes to bring food to table,” added Carter Fong, executive director of the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce.

They hope that this food will leaving a lasting impression on guests like Dunn and that it will help them truly understand what producers like this year’s host, Art Ridl, do every day, and how their work affects the economy.

“People go home with a different perspective after they talk to the farmers that put in long hours out in the field and have to deal with the weather and uncertain crop prices and different things like that,” said Ridl, who farms just north of Dickinson.

Lessons about farming that Dunn and her tablemates won’t soon forget.

“Banquet in a Field” is an invitation-only event that’s limited to 150 guests each year. The guest list changes every year. Organizers hope that will give more people the chance to attend and learn.

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