Farmer Stories Series with CommonGround | Sarah Kern Magedanz

Our partners at CommonGround Minnesota are highlighting the women volunteers who join them on their mission to educate on food, farming and sustainability. Today, meet Sarah Kern Magedanz!

We are excited to continue with our Farmer Stories Series to follow along with CommonGround’s mission to share information about food and farming.

CommonGround wants to create an open dialogue about how food is grown and raised on farms in Minnesota and across the United States. We are women in agriculture from across Minnesota who volunteer our time to share information about food and farming. We share our personal experiences, as well as science and research, to help you sort through the myths and misinformation surrounding food and farming. Our goal is to be a resource for your food and farming questions!

Today, we are highlighting one of our brand new volunteers – Sarah Kern Magedanz. Read below to learn more about Sarah and watch the video at the bottom of the page!

My name is Sarah Kern Magedanz. I grew up on a farm in central Minnesota. My grandfather started our farm in the 1960s as a sharecropper and purchased the home farm several years after that. Like many families in the area, our farm started as a dairy farm but changed over to raising dairy steers in the early 1990s. Growing up, my family raised corn, beans, cattle, and a small flock of sheep. I was very active in 4H growing up. I have been working as an ag lender for the past 16 years –lending money to producers to purchase equipment, crop inputs, and land. My husband and I, along with our three kids, are still involved with my family farm. My parents live on our home farm. We still raise crops and cattle.

Why did you volunteer for common ground? What does your involvement look like?

Agriculture was a field I never thought about growing up. Never in a million years did I think I would work in the same community I grew up in. But I fell in love with the lifestyle, skills, and work ethic I developed from agriculture. The people in this farming community are my heart and I want to share my passion for agriculture and this life I appreciate so much. I love to share our family’s background, what we do, and why we do it.

Is there something you’d like everyone to know about women in farming? Or farming in general?

Farming is not for the faint of heart. You need to be a problem solver, a forward thinker, a researcher, a mechanic, and a businessperson. It is a way of life –not a 9 to 5 job you can leave at the end of the day. Farming requires a huge mental burden as well –worrying about many factors beyond your control –the weather, the prices, the cost of inputs.

What would someone find surprising about the industry? Or you?

98% of farms in the United States are owned by families – just like mine!

How can we support you & the local AG community?

Support comes in many forms! Buying ground beef from a farmer in your area or joining a CSA is supporting agriculture but simply buying meat and produce from the grocery store is also supporting agriculture. The products on the grocery store shelves are put there because of families just like mine. For example, some of the beef from our farm is sold to friends and people in our area, but most are trucked to a packing plant to be made into products that fill the grocery freezers. Many of the products you use every day contain agricultural products. I think the best way to support the ag community is by being curious, open, asking questions, and having a desire to learn more about where your food comes from!

Why do you love what you do?

I love working with farmers –they care about their livestock and the land they farm with such a deep passion. They want to care for their land in the best possible way because caring for the land gives them the best possible yields for their crop. There is just a sense of community with ag – so supportive. Last spring, a producer I know was hospitalized with COVID. His local community pulled together and ensured all of his crops were planted and his spring fieldwork was completed. You don’t find that type of community everywhere.

What is a misconception about MN or overall farming?

As a lender and working in the finance field, I see the tremendous amount of capital it takes to start farming. There are so many misconceptions when people see the large equipment being used or the grain storage setups on farm sites. These visuals do not always equate to wealth. It can be financially very difficult to farm – with funds being borrowed and all of the uncertainties faced with the fluctuating prices of both inputs and the commodity you are raising.

What advice would you give to women in your field?

Agriculture has traditionally been a man’s field. My first summer internship was driving a dirt bike across farm fields, looking for insect pests and weed problems in fields. I learned very quickly to gain respect, you have to be knowledgeable and also listen! If you can talk the talk, understand where people are coming from, and be good at your job, it goes a long way to break down barriers. My favorite quote is from Temple Grandin, a very outstanding woman in the livestock sector, “The thing about being a woman in a man’s field is you have to be twice as good.

Twin Cities Mom Collective is a locally-focused parenting resource for moms and families. Passionate about parenting and our community, TCMC strives to connect area moms to relevant resources, local businesses, can’t-miss happenings, and most of all — each other!

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