Know Your Roots: Our Company Trip to North Dakota

Last week, staff members from across Farmers Restaurant Group headed out west to the great plains of North Dakota to get to know our farmer owners and learn more about family farming and its critical role in the production of food for our restaurants and the nation.

Led by our very own Vicki Griffith, FRG’s vice president of quality assurance and purchasing, both front of house and kitchen restaurant employees embarked on a three-day journey that was packed full of introductions, education, and fun.

Bright and early Wednesday morning, the team left DC and flew to Minneapolis. With about a five-hour drive to Grand Forks, the team was picked up on a bus provided by our co-owners at the North Dakota Farmers Union. Their first stop was a tour at Sproule Farms, where they learned all about wheat farming, took rides in working combines, and got a taste of life on the farm. The day ended with a festive evening of dinner and dancing.

On Thursday, the team toured the state-run North Dakota Mill, which provides the flour we use in our baking, learning all about how wheat is processed, stored, and shipped. They headed to Farmers Union Oil Company of Embden for lunch over a presentation on the importance of cooperatives. A tour of Marcy & Greg Svenningsen’s Farm followed, focused on grain and livestock production. The afternoon brought them to Jamestown, ND, which is home to NDFU, the union that started Founding Farmers and our company. The team toured and met with NDFU staff and happily landed at a dinner hosted by Mark Watne, president of NDFU, and his family. Watne is a great company partner and also provides the Hard Spring Wheat we use in distilling our Founding Spirits Vodka.

On the final day of the trip, the crew headed to Casselton where Mark Watne gave them an educational tour through the North Dakota State University Agronomy Seed Farm and the NDSU Oil Extruding Plant. The team then headed back to DC.

It was quite a trip. Everyone on the team was delighted to have made so many new Midwestern friends. They were all filled with stories of combines and cooperatives, and have a much better understanding of farming and food production. The trip gave them a real connection to our roots, as a company and as Americans.