Carly Kakasuleff didn’t grow up riding in combines or harvesting crops. She grew up like many American children today, living in the suburbs, miles from any farm, her closest connection to food a weekly trip to the grocery store. Farming was rarely, if ever, a topic that crossed her mind. Now she has the chance to share her enthusiasm with others who didn’t grow up on farms.
“I didn’t have negative or positive feelings toward farmers,” says Kakasuleff. “I couldn’t really form any sort of opinion, except for indifference, because I didn’t know anything about the people or the profession.”
Flash forward about 15 years and much has changed in the daily life of Kakasuleff. She and her husband, George, are part of the third generation of his family to raise corn and soybeans in Cicero, Indiana, about 30 miles north of Indianapolis.
It was just a matter of love, she says. When she first met George, both he and the agricultural industry swept her off her feet. She remembers her first ride on a combine, watching eight, tall corn plants march one by one into the corn head and end up as kernels in the tank. She felt as if she were flying over the corn, seeing the birds scatter up out of the field ahead.
“It was like there was gas in my heart waiting for a flame to ignite the fire of how I feel about agriculture, and that combine ride did just that,” she recalls. “How had I never seen this before?”
As a spokeswoman for the new CommonGround program, a partnership between the soybean checkoff and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) to enhance the awareness for today’s farming, Kakasuleff has the opportunity to share her passion for agriculture with a consumer audience increasingly disconnected from farm life. By using the media, CommonGround events and presentations to start conversations, Kakasuleff hopes to share her personal story combined with third-party facts to build trust in today’s food and farming.
“Life on the farm isn’t always easy, but the rewards are unlike any other profession,” says Kakasuleff. “To get to be the third generation working with my family on the farm to produce a product that feeds an ever-growing population makes all of the hard work and countless hours worth it.”
To learn more about the CommonGround program, please visit: www.findourcommonground.com.