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August 1, 2010

The Wife of a Dairyman in the Marin Independent Journal

Marin Independent Journal (San Rafael, CA)



August 1, 2010

Top blog provides view from a Novato dairy



Author: Rob Rogers

Section: Marin

Novato

News



Estimated printed pages: 3

Article Text:

Until seven months ago, Nancy Grossi had never read a blog let alone thought of writing one. Most of her time was spent raising her two children on the Novato dairy farm where she lives with her husband, Dominic.

It wasn't until Grossi began noticing an increasing number of negative news reports about dairies - most notably ABC Nightline's "Darker Side of Dairy Farming," which aired in January - that she decided to take up the keyboard.

"There was so much misinformation out there," Grossi said. "People see something published or on TV, and they think that all dairies are like that. I wanted people to know that there are dairies where people take care of cows, where they have respect for them.

"I wanted to have a voice."

On Wednesday, Grossi's online efforts - through social networks Facebook, Twitter, and a blog, "The Wife of a Dairyman" - earned her third place in the NutriDense Silage "Web Moo.0" contest sponsored by BASF Plant Science.

"Nancy's entry was one of the best," said NutriDense spokeswoman Heather Goode. "Her dedication to advocating for the dairy industry through social media is commendable."

Grossi's blog, thewifeofadairyman.blogspot.com, chronicles many of the day-to-day activities on the farm: milking cows, raising calves and keeping clear of bulls. It also includes information about family history - she and Dominic are the fourth generation of his family to work on the farm - food and recipes, and anything else that interests her.

"Whenever I'm writing about dairies, I check with Dominic to make sure that all the information is correct," said Grossi, who attended a workshop on social media in agriculture last year during a dairy farmers' convention in Anaheim. "If he doesn't know about something, he steers me toward someone who does."

In her blog, Grossi works to correct myths and misconceptions about dairy farming, such as the idea that nonorganic milk is likely to contain antibiotics. Government testing prevents that, she says.

"I think it's great," said Dominic Grossi, president of the Marin County Farm Bureau. "I'm always happy with anything that helps to educate people about what we do."

Nancy Grossi grew up in Penngrove, just north of Petaluma, and operated a hair salon before meeting Dominic at an Oakland Raiders game several years ago - an event orchestrated by her sister. "Neither Dominic or I are fans," Grossi said.

The two married about seven years ago, and Grossi found herself living on the family farm. While her own family had raised beef cattle, it was always one or two at a time, Grossi said - not the 220 dairy cows that need to be fed, milked and cared for every day at the Novato ranch.

"I'd grown up in the country, so I was used to the life," Grossi said. "All of my friends growing up were in Future Farmers or 4-H. It wasn't an adjustment at all."

What did require an adjustment was the sense of isolation Grossi felt on the farm, perched on a hillside overlooking Stafford Lake County Park. While the farm is just a few miles from downtown Novato, it can feel like another world with no neighbors in sight of her home and her children attending a school in west Marin.

That's all changed now. About 100 readers follow her blog regularly - Grossi updates every day - and many others correspond with her through Facebook and Twitter, Grossi said.

"I think I'm a bit addicted now," she said.

Through her connections online, Grossi discovered the AgChat Foundation, which encourages and promotes the efforts of online "agvocates." In submitting to the "Web Moo.0" contest, Grossi had hoped to win a trip to AgChat's first convention in Chicago this summer - a prize that ultimately went to Michigan dairy farmer Ashley Messing.

Instead, Grossi won a Flip video camera, which she plans to use to add another element to her blog.

"I think it's important to share what we do, and that people should know where their food comes from," Grossi said. "If that information finds its way into people's homes, I can feel good about that."

ON THE NET

Check out Nancy Grossi's blog, "The Wife of a Dairyman," at http://www.thewifeofadairyman.blogspot.com/

Read more Novato stories at the IJ's Novato section.

Contact Rob Rogers via e-mail at rrogers@marinij.com.

Caption:
Nancy Grossi, sitting with her laptop alongside some of her milk cows in Novato, started writing her award-winning Wife of a Dairyman blog after seeing negative reports about the dairy industry in the news.



(c) 2010 Marin Independent Journal. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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